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The secret of the cat’s eye that glows at night

People who are afraid of cats are mostly listening to unreliable legends and rumors, so that the innocent cat’s back is dark and mysterious image, especially the cat’s shining eyes in the dark, is enough to frighten these people. In fact, fear or rejection is usually caused by incomprehension and ignorance. If you understand that the cat has a “choroidal blanket” behind the retina, can help it get excellent night vision in the dark, and cameras, microscopes and other instruments are also borrowed from this principle, perhaps not so afraid of it!


According to animal behaviorist Desmond Morris in the book “Cat Knowledge” explains that the cat’s eyes will shine in the dark because behind the cat’s eyes there is a light reflector called the “choroidal blanket” (or light blanket, light membrane), which acts like a mirror behind the retina and can reflect light back to the cells of the retina.


With the choroid blanket, cats can make the most of every bit of light that gets into their eyes and see on a dark street or in a room. Our human eyes absorb far less light than cats, and cats can see moving objects (such as mice) clearly in the dark, but humans can hardly see clearly. Therefore, feral cats move mostly at night, on the one hand, there are few people, and on the other hand, they have excellent night vision, which makes them the best hunters.

In addition to cats, dogs and crocodiles, many other animals have the same “device”. If you take a camera to a swamp where a large group of crocodiles live at night, turn on the flash to take a photo, you will get a picture of colorful crocodile eyes, reflecting different colors of light. Therefore, often when taking pictures of cats and dogs eyes light up, it is the same reason, but it is recommended that the flash should not hit their eyes directly, so as not to cause damage.

The cameras, telescopes, microscopes, monitors, projectors and even satellites commonly used around us all borrow this principle. Studies have shown that cats’ night vision is six times that of humans and dogs five times that of humans, which is much better than humans, but Desmond Morris said that this does not mean that cats can see in a completely dark place without a hint of light, and still need to use sound, smell and a keen beard to aid navigation.

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