Vision and Your Pet

I’ll bet you never thought much about your pet’s vision.

We take our eyesight for granted so much of the time that we don’t even think of “how our pets see.”

Our world operates more on sight than any of our other senses.

Our pets on the other hand, use hearing and smell along with sight.

An average dog has the eyesight of an 80 to 90 year old human about 20/75.

The average cat would not be able to tell you the difference between a Bluejay or a Crow or if Tony the Tiger was on TV.

It is not that their eyesight is really bad, they just see the world differently than we do.

Going back to the years gone by dogs were hunters. They traveled in packs to hunt their prey and their prey was usually available during dusk and dawn.

As a result dogs were created with vision that allowed them to see in dim light.

Dogs have a flatter cornea that we do, which lets in more light, but decreases the sharpness of their vision.

Our eyes come outfitted with many color sensitive features which dogs do not have. Their world is mainly black and white with a little blue and violet thrown in, but their depth perception and width of vision is better than ours.

Interestingly, a dog’s vision has not been left entirely up to Mother Nature, breeders throughout the years have played a role in helping change different aspects of a breed’s sight.

Some breeds have been bred for long distance sight, some for close range sight and others just for cosmetic looks.

Cats on the other hand have very large eyes,

They can focus on prey at close range, their depth perception is fantastic thanks to their binocular vision.

Since cats hunt things that roam at night their eyes are created to allow as much light in as possible, their retinas are coated with a reflective film that helps let in more light.

Cats like dogs have poor color vision and color plays a very unimportant part in a cat’s life.

A cat’s depth of vision and its peripheral vision is better than ours.

Siamese cats are the only breed that does not have the binocular vision necessary for being a good hunter. Their hunting is done with a lot of guess work thrown in, that probably why most Siamese cats are pampered house cats (it was too hard to make a living as a “mouser.”)

Cats and dogs use their hearing and sense of smell along with their eyesight to communicate.

It is hard of us humans to imagine how important the right distance is for our pets to actually be able to see us clearly.

It’s almost like the story of the Three Bears, poppa’s porridge was too hot, mama’s porridge was too cold and baby bear’s porridge was just right.

The proper distance for your pet to see you properly has to be “just right,” too close or too far just won’t work.

Another interesting thing is eye contact, direct eye contact can be very intimidating to some dogs and can cause an aggressive reaction.

When trying to teach your dog a command, it is important that you both look at each other , but do not turn it into a staring contest.

When dogs ran in packs only the Alpha dog had the authority to stare or have direct eye contact.

In dealing with cats, it is rather on a one to one basis, each cat has its own idea of what it will or will not accept and it is up to you to figure it out.

However, a good idea, if you are trying to correct a cat’s bad habit, like being on the counter or table, instead of yelling (which will do no good) stay out of sight and spray the cat with a bit of water. Do this a few times without the cat seeing you do it and by association Miss Kitty (water and table) will stop doing it.

Trying to teach your dog hand obedience signals is a great idea and dogs love the drama of waving arms.

Cats on the other hand will think you are “losing it” and will ignore you.

Animals are very good at picking up visual and emotional clues that we give out, without our even knowing we are doing it.

When it is “flea day” at our house I try very hard not to think of the cats, the flea stuff or when I am going to put it on them, but somehow I give away my intentions and they vanish into the woodwork.

I now gather the 3 vials up in the evening before, puncture the tops, put the caps back on and wait till morning, then the first cat I see gets it without any warning and I continue on until I have all three “de-fleaed.”

This may seem like I got side tracked for a moment, but I didn’t, I just wanted you to be aware of the fact our cats and dogs are very much aware of our actions and they visually keep tabs on us without our knowing it.

As our pets get older they too, have vision problems.

There is a fibrous tissue that causes a condition known as “nuclear sclerosis” that grows on the lens of the eye. This condition makes the eyesight quite cloudy.

Then there are cataracts.

However, our pets do not react as we humans do when we are losing our sight.

By using their other sense organs they manage to get around very well and many times can be near blind before we are aware of their condition.

The adjustment of dealing with a near blind dog is more your problem than the dog’s.

It means you have to learn other ways of communicating with a little more noise and touch.

Dogs can remain active long after their eyesight has diminished, they can still go for walks, they can play with toys that have rattles or noises in them and the thing they love best is your touching them with pets and love.

Cats, too adjust quite well with poor eyesight, just don’t move the location of the litter box.

Cats will play with noisy toys, but most enjoy the sound of your voice and your loving pats.

When re-arranging furniture make certain you take plenty of time to help your pet adjust to the new locations by gently walking him/her through the new placement, as many times as it takes to get the pet acclimated.

All in all, a sightless cat or dog can enjoy a long and happy life, as long as they have your love.

As we all know, love makes the world go round and it doesn’t matter if you are a cat,a dog or a human.