How well do cats see in relationship to dogs?

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Dogs and cats are both predators, with their eyes placed to the front of their head to allow for binocular vision and depth perception. The area sampled by both eyes varies by species, however. Dogs have only 30-60 degrees of overlap compared to 140 degrees in cats and humans.

Dogs, however, have better peripheral vision or field of view. If a dog looks straight ahead, his field of vision is 240 degrees. A cat’s is 200 degrees, and a human’s is 180 degrees. In terms of focal ability, a dog can’t focus clearly on anything closer than 10 inches from his face.

Cats are marginally better, but both rely more on motion detection than sharp vision to make their way in the world. A dog’s ability to discern motion is so acute he can interpret hand signals a mile away.

To put the numbers in a context humans can understand, a dog’s vision is about 20/75. Some breeds of dog are even more nearsighted, like the Rottweiler, Schnauzer, and German shepherd. Cats average 20/100 to 20/200.

Dogs, like cats, have a tapetum lucidum. This reflective layer behind the retina allows both species to have better lower light vision than humans. A cat requires 1/6 as much light as a human, and a dog needs 1/3 as much.

In order of ranking, cats have the best vision, dogs are in second place, and humans come in third.

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