Why do domestic cats have slitted eyes?

Domestic cats have slitted eyes, also known as "vertical pupils," for a very specific reason: to help them hunt prey.

Image: MikeB

The vertical shape of their pupils allows cats to control the amount of light entering their eyes, which is essential for hunting at dawn and dusk when light levels are low. The pupils can dilate to let in more light or constrict to reduce the amount of light entering their eyes, depending on the situation.

The slit shape also helps cats to focus on their prey, as it provides them with a greater depth of field than a round pupil would. This allows them to judge distances accurately and pounce on their prey with precision.

In addition, the vertical pupils may also help protect the cat's eyes from damage. By closing to a very narrow slit in bright light, the pupil reduces the amount of harmful UV radiation that enters the eye. It achieves this by working in conjunction with the eyelids which pass down over the slit like a blind at a window.

A cat's slitted eye improves hunting skills by (a) allowing the eye to be super sensitive and (b) improving depth perception and better targeting of prey. Click on the link above the image for more. Image: by NoraDevius on deviantart.com

RELATED: 3 reasons why the eyes of domestic cats contract to a vertical slit.

Overall, the slitted eyes of domestic cats are a specialized adaptation that enables them to be efficient predators and survive in their natural environment.


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