Ask Dr. Richards

August 2007 Issue

Ask Elizabeth: 08/07

Pearl’s pupil shape is unique to the family Felidae and is meant to maximize vision in low light. Did you know that cats can see at eight times dimmer illumination than humans? This gift is part of our heritage as nocturnal, carnivorous mammals. Our ancestors’ success in the wild depended on being able to hunt at dusk and dawn, times of day when many potential dinner species are most active. Adaptations to the eye improved our wild relatives’ night vision. For house-cats like me, these adaptations enable me to hunt wild bugs in the closet at night, allow me to startle people with glow-in-the-dark reflective eyes and are part of what make me uniquely feline.

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