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Can cats see electricity?

Electric Shock Injury in Cats

Electric shock (i.e., direct contact with electricity) is not very common in cats, especially adult cats. Nevertheless, it does occur. Young cats that are teething or are curious are most likely to get an electric shock injury from chewing on a power cord.

Technically, the term «electrocution» is used when the cat does not survive the electric shock incident.

What to Watch For

A cat that has suffered an electric shock may be seizuring, rigid, or limp and unconscious. The electric cord may be in the mouth or on or near the cat. Alternatively, the cat may be lying in a pool of water or other liquid that has an electric current running through it.

Primary Cause

Your cat is most likely to suffer electric shock injury by chewing on an electrical cord.

Immediate Care

  1. The most important step is to get your cat away from the electricity without endangering yourself. This may be as simple as unplugging the cord or turning off the circuit breaker.
  2. Be especially careful if your cat is in a pool of water or other liquid. Do not touch the cat or the liquid directly. Instead, use a wooden pole or other non-conductive item to push your cat away from the liquid.
  3. Check your cat for breathing and a heartbeat.
  4. Start artificial respiration and/or CPR as needed.
  5. Wrap your cat in a towel and take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Veterinary Care


Diagnosis is based primarily on the information you provide. Because electricity can cause abnormal heart rhythms, your veterinarian will first check that the heart and lungs are okay. Next he or she will check your cat for burns from the electricity and for signs of shock, which is common after contact with electricity.


Initial treatment will focus on restoring normal heart activity and breathing, as well as treating any symptoms of shock. The veterinarian will then focus on treating burns. Your cat will most likely be kept in the hospital for a while, at least until he is stabilized.

One of the aftereffects of electric shock injury is accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema), which may take hours or a day or two to become evident. If this should occur, bring your cat to the veterinarian immediately.

Other Causes

Most other causes of electric shock injury are rare and found outdoors; they include lightning strike, downed power lines, electric fences.


Keeping electric cords away from a curious cat can be difficult, especially since they can get into some very small spaces. Attach wires to the wall using clips designed for this purpose, or cover the wires with a rigid wire cover that can be found at electronics stores.

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Can Cats See in the Dark?

Jamie Whittenburg, DVM

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a medical writer and veterinarian for The Spruce Pets. With over 16 years of experience working with both large and small animals, Dr. Whittenburg now writes on pet health topics to bring helpful knowledge to pet parents all over the world.

Published on 08/04/22

green cat eyes

Veterinarians and scientists don’t fully understand everything about cats, and how well they see is still one of those mysteries. Cats have been domestic pets for nearly 12,000 years, and we are still actively learning about them.

There are many myths about how well cats see, including that they can see in the dark and that their vision is better than ours. These oft-repeated ideas can make cats seem like supernatural beings.

In reality, cats can’t see in total darkness, but they possess improved vision in darker settings thanks to their eyes’ anatomy.

Can Cats See in the Dark?

You may have heard they can, but this is only partially true. Cats don’t have true “night vision” and, like us, cannot see in the complete absence of light.

However, cats are definitely able to see better in low-light environments than humans are. It can come in handy when they’re stalking prey in the early morning or late evening hours. These times of the day are important for outdoor cats. They’re hunting for food when many small prey animals are most active.

Many cat owners are confident their cat can, in fact, see in the dark. They get this impression because cats see well in low or little light. However, modern homes are rarely completely dark, and the light from street lamps, clocks, and other appliances allows just enough light for a cat to see.

How Does Cats’ Low-Light Vision Work?

Cats’ vision involves their unique anatomy. Their eyes are large in proportion to their body size. Also, their vertical pupils can dilate to a much larger extent than a human pupil. These features allow in as much light as possible.

Moving down to the cellular level, the cat’s eye contains a much higher percentage of rods compared to a human eye. Rods are one of two types of light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye, and they turn the incoming light into electrical signals that are then transmitted to the brain. Rods primarily detect light and shadows, making them especially important in dim light. Cones, the other light-detecting cell, are primarily involved in color vision and spacial acuity.

Finally, cats have a reflective tapetum in the back of their eyes. This area, known as the tapetum lucidum, is responsible for the eerie greenish-yellow glow of cats’ eyes when caught in lights. This layer of the eye reflects light onto the retina and allows more light to hit more of the rods.

How Does My Cat’s Vision Compare With Mine?

Pet parents are often curious how cats’ vision compares to ours. Cats can see much better in low light than we can due because of their eyes’ anatomy, but what about clarity and color?

In visual acuity, we excel over our cats. They don’t see the world as clearly as we do. Typically, humans have more cones in their retinas than cats, allowing us to see sharper images and better spacial visualization.

We also boast better color vision than our cats. We believe, based on the types of cones in their eyes, cats don’t see colors exactly the way humans do. Though we don’t now everything about how cats perceive color, they likely see a more muted spectrum.

Article Sources

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Bergmanson JP, Townsend WD. The morphology of the cat tapetum lucidum. American Journal of Optometry and Physiological Optics. 1980 Mar;57(3):138-144. DOI: 10.1097/00006324-198003000-00002. PMID: 7386574.
  2. T. Ghose. Feline vision: How Cats See the World.
  3. Long J, Estey A, Bartle D, Olsen S, Gooch AA. Catalyst: seeing through the eyes of a cat. In: Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games — FDG ’10. ACM Press; 2010:116-123.
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