Cat Senses

During the Middle Ages, many people believed cats had supernatural abilities. After all, they were able to see and hear things people couldn’t. Now that we have a better understanding of cats, we know that there is nothing supernatural about what cats are able to do. Rather, cats have heightened senses to help them survive as solitary nighttime hunters.

Cat Vision

Because cats in the wild do most of their hunting at night, cat sight is excellent in poor light. While cats cannot see in total darkness, most night conditions are ideal for them.

Cats need only 20 percent of the light intensity that people need to be able to see at night. Their eyes have cells that enable them to see movement and objects at very low light levels. This helps them to locate their prey.

During the day and in well-lit conditions, cats don’t see as well as people. Their ability to distinguish separate objects is far inferior to a human’s ability to distinguish separate objects. Cats compensate for this with their amazing ability to see motion, which they can detect much more quickly than humans.

Cat Vision at Home

House cats use their special vision to play. They can jump and land with amazing accuracy in the dark to catch fast-moving toys. In addition, cats use vision to catch bugs and rodents that may enter the home.

Taste Abilities of Cats

Cat taste senses are actually less developed than human taste senses. Humans have about 9,000 taste buds, while cats have only 475.

However, cat taste helps them determine which foods are healthy for them. Cats are not very sensitive to sweetness or salt, as these things are unnecessary for them in the wild. As carnivores, their taste buds help them to enjoy the protein and fat they need to thrive.

Taste Abilities of Cats at Home

At home, a cat’s sense of taste will keep her from getting into salty or sweet snacks, which would be bad for her. However, her taste buds will drive her to enjoy a turkey sandwich left on the counter!

Cats and the Sense of Touch

Cats are very sensitive to touch. The most touch-sensitive places on a cat’s body are its:

  • face
  • paws
  • whiskers.

A cat’s whiskers are the most sensitive part of its body. They contain special hairs set deep in the skin called vibrissae. A cat will be aware of the tiniest movement in the air because of his amazing sense of touch. This helps cats to be such efficient hunters.

Cats and Touch at Home

Touch is important to your cat emotionally. Petting and stroking your cat is good for her. It slows the heart rate, relaxes the body and causes purring.

Cats also use touch to mark their territory. Your cat will rub against your leg as a way of saying, “You belong to me.”

Cat Hearing

Cats have ears that are specially adapted to hear the soft, squeaky sounds of the tiny rodents that are their prey. Cats can hear sounds that we humans can only imagine. They are able to detect sounds that are three times higher than those humans can detect.

Cat hearing is enhanced by large ears, which can rotate to pick up sounds from different directions. By moving their ears as they listen, cats are able to determine the source of a sound with excellent accuracy. The sensitive hearing of cats helps them to locate their prey during a hunt.

Cat Hearing at Home

Cats at home can use their sense of hearing to help them find mice, insects and more. Your cat can even hear rodents and bugs that are behind the walls!

Cats and the Sense of Smell

For cats, the world is rich with smells. Humans have 5 million cells in their noses to help sense odor. Cats have an amazing 200 million of these cells. Cats use smell to:

  • communicate with other cats
  • determine potential risk or pleasure
  • learn about their surrounding environment
  • locate prey.

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