Do dogs and cats see color?
One morning while sitting at the dog park watching Inka and Rocky chase balls, I noticed that each dog always retrieved their respective ball. The balls are the same shape but different colors. Inka’s ball is blue and Rocky’s is green. I wondered if they actually saw the colors and that’s how they differentiated between the two.
I had always thought that dogs only saw in black and white. It turns out I was wrong. Recent studies suggest that they actually do have some color vision but it’s not as bright as a human’s.
Dogs eyes have only 20 percent of the cone photoreceptor cells (the part of the eye that controls the perception of color) that humans have.
Behavioral tests suggest dogs see in shades of yellow and blue but lack the ability to see the range of colors from green to red. This means that the color of a dog’s world is basically yellow, blue and gray. That explains why Inka always gets the blue ball. She can see the color. Rocky would be seeing a dark brownish or gray ball.
The majority of balls made for chuckers are bright orange or red. Dogs can’t see the color red so it is hard for them to distinguish the ball from the lawn. I often wondered why Watson can’t see the ball even when I point to it. Now I feel like a big dummy because I expected him to see something he couldn’t. I don’t understand why the manufactures of dog toys are so clueless.
Dogs can’t see as well as humans because they have 20 to 40 percent of human visual acuity. That means an object a human can see clearly may appear blurry to a dog looking at it from the same distance. Their vision is better when something is moving vs. when it is standing still. Dogs can detect movement 10 to 20 times better than humans. Watson can always see a dog or cat walking in the park before I do and he’s able to catch a ball mid-air.
Cats, on the other hand, are only partially color blind. They lack the ability to see red, or at least not strongly, but have no problems with blue or green. Cats have exceptional vision when viewing far-away objects but horrible vision seeing objects up close. They also have a blind spot in front of their nose, which is why they seem not to recognize food when it is placed right in front of them.
One thing that dogs and cats have in common is the ability to see much better than humans in low-light situations. This makes sense because cats and dogs are nocturnal hunters. The ability to see in the dark has enabled them to spot and capture their prey.
I have decided to test Watson’s ability to discern color. I’m going to put food in a blue bowl and no food in a yellow bowl and then present the bowls at the same time. Each time I feed him I’ll switch the position of the bowls to see if he recognizes the blue. I’ll let you know the results.
CAPS News and Events:
CAPS will be at Walmart in February with our Kissin’ Booth and the adorable Ki. Meeting and greeting friends is Ki’s dream job. Be part of living the dream and get a kiss from Ki.
CAPS has new designs of hoodies, shirts and other items. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and who wouldn’t love a new shirt.
CAPS has adorable puppies, sweet dogs and charming cats who are looking for the forever homes of their dreams. Do you need a buddy to keep you company while watching football? CAPS’ furry friends will score a touch-down in your heart.
Be sure to mark Saturday, May 9, on your calendars for our annual Bark in the Park 5K walk/run. Bark in the Park will be held at the fairgrounds. Watch this article for further information.
CAPS address is P.O. Box 5128, Fallon, NV 89406.
Do you have questions, comments or a great story? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kathleen Williams-Miller, a CAPS volunteer, contributed this week’s column.