Up close and even far away, cat eyes are some of the most interesting eyes on the face of the planet. While eyes function very similarly for all animals—allowing in more or less light, so our brains can make a picture of our surroundings—there are many interesting things we can learn about our furry, purring friends’ eyes.
The Pupil Shape Is Special
While humans have circular pupils that dilate outward in all directions, cats have a slit-like pupil that is vertical. When their pupils dilate, they expand left and right. This is different still than sheep eyes, which have a horizontal and oblong-shaped pupil.
Pupils will dilate more or less depending on how much light the eye is exposed to. Cat eyes have the ability to dilate extremely fast, which makes transitioning from light spaces to dark spaces very easy. This is especially important when considering the natural hunting patterns of cats. Because cats are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk, it’s important for their eyes to be able to become accustomed to all light stages.
Adapting to different brightnesses of light can help cats survive in the wild by being able to see predators, and it also allows them to hunt prey during their active periods and at night. Their vertical pupil also allows cats to gauge the distance between predator and/or prey much more precisely, meaning they will have a higher chance of catching that mouse or getting away from that coyote.
Cats Can Talk with Their Eyes
Cats don’t have the same expressions that humans or even dogs have, which makes their communication with their face and eyes even more subtle. These communications are given through their pupil shape as well as the placement of their eyelids.
If a cat has dilated eyes, it could mean that they are excited. Remember, when cat’s pupils are wide, they are able to see things more clearly. This also means that cats will dilate their eyes when they are shocked or scared, so they can better ward off danger or need to attack. Wide open eyelids could also show they are startled or making sure of their surroundings.
When cat pupils are narrowed, it could mean they are getting ready to attack and have really focused on what they want to have for dinner. While a narrowed pupil may mean something unpleasant, if your cat’s eyelids are half-closed or squinted, they might be showing their affection for you. This also happens when cats blink slowly at you. It means they respect and trust you and that they know you’re not going to attack them.
Cats Have a Third Eyelid
Like humans, cats have an upper eyelid and a lower eyelid that are used in general to protect their eyes from debris and to lubricate their eyeball, preventing it from drying out. However, unlike humans, these special felines have a third eyelid.
The third eyelid in cats is called the nictitating membrane, which is a membrane that can be pulled back or closed. This eyelid is very close to the inner corner of the eye. For cats, this third eyelid acts as a windshield wiper that clears away all the dirt and debris they may have in their eye.
We all know that cats are super fascinating creatures, and we are always excited to learn something new about them. With a vertical pupil, eye communication, and a third eyelid, cat eyes might be the most interesting part of our feline friends.
See also : Interesting ways your cat communicates