Have you heard a statement a cat can see over a mile during the day and two miles at night? Funny, similar sayings are valid in parts of the world where kilometers are in use. So, do cats see differently depending on which country they live in? Probably, not. But how far can your cat see then?
Experimental science have concluded – cats are not well at seeing over the distance, they are nearsighted. That means the object in the distance appear as a blur to them, while contrary, only in the closer presence, the object becomes clearer.
The maximum acuity in cats is towards objects being approximately 30 inches or 75 cm away from them. Everything further away, appears more and more blurrier. And even objects 30 inches away do not appear sharp to cats. So, how does your cat recognize you when you enter the room? By your shape, your gait, your footsteps, your voice and even your smell.
Seeing in a distance is not important for cats
But cats being bad at acuity tests should not mislead you. Low acuity is dues to anatomical specifics of the eye of a cat, which is designed for other tasks, like low light vision and high ability to detect movements, in the first place. So, yes, we can say that low acuity is in exchange for those other “superpowers”.
When a cat is out hunting, and the prey is far, like a mile, away, it would give no advantage whether he’d seen a mouse as a blur or not. He would still have to get much, much closer, without being notices, like… Ummm… 30 inches away, to perform a successful attack.
The best companions of your cat in hunting are the hearing, the sense of smell, the knowledge about where and when the prey hangs out, how to stay undetected by the prey, as well as patience to sit and wait in an ambush.
Vision? Not so much valuable till the pounce itself, which happens to be when the cat is approximately 30 inches away from the prey. And then again, when the pounce is complete, vision becomes no longer important, but the sense of touch steps over.