The Reason Cats Have Vertical Pupils

If you’ve spent any time gazing into your cat’s eyes — and be honest, I’m sure you have — you probably noticed one of the most unique and beautiful feline features.

Cats have vertical pupils, which narrow their eyes into slits in bright light and pair with their naturally reflective Tapetum lucidum to make a striking effect in the dark as well.

The reason for this feature is an interesting one.

Photo: Max Pixel

In a TED-Ed lesson written by Emma Bryce and animated by Iván Tamás, narrator Alexandra Panzer details why exactly this is, and what it says about cats and other creatures with unusual pupil shapes.

The short answer? According to the video, “because of how the slit pupil takes in light, it creates sharp, vertical contours.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Rob Rye

When the cat’s brain processes the visuals from each eye, the small but sharp differences between them help the cat judge the precise distance of its target.”

But cats, both big and small, aren’t the only creatures who benefit from this precision.

Photo: flickr/Florida Fish and Wildlife

It’s interesting to learn more about our furry friends!

Watch the full video below to learn more!

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