As natural nocturnal hunters, cats have evolved their sense organs to a highly tuned degree. Not only do these senses serve to aid hunting,but also to keep the cat safe from predators. Even though most cats today live in a safe, domestic environment, they still display many characteristics that they developed when the need to hunt for food and day-to-day survival was an important part of their lifestyle.
It is not true that cats can see in the dark; with no illumination they can see no better than we can. However, it is true to say that they can see better than humans in low light levels. The feline eye is constructed differently to a human one: the eyeball is rounder with the lens and cornea closer to the retina, allowing the cat to focus more closely than we can; the pupil is capable of dilating to a much greater degree, so admitting more light to the retina and enabling the cat to see better in dim light; and the location of the eyes, which are set wider apart than ours, allows the cat a wider vision. .
Although size of the feline ear varies considerably, they are always set on the head, rather than on either side of the face like humans and monkeys. The external ear organ, the pinna, is movably allowing for directional location of the sound. the inner ear has larger echo chambers, so the cat can detect sounds imperceptible to humans, such as those emitted on very high and low frequencies. They can move their ears like radar dishes and pinpoint the source, they can also rotate them independently 180 degrees, and can turn them fast in the direction of sound.
The feline nose has olfactory receptors, extremely specialized organs, that can detect minute or extremely low concentrations of substances, in the air. They transmit the information they receive to the olfactory lobess in the brain where the scents are recognized and acted upon. The olfactory lobes in animals are physically bigger, pro rata than in man where they are almost vestigial.
When two cats get close to each other, they sniff one another’s noses, rear ends and sides, then continue with their business together. This is the cat equivalent of saying, “Hey, how are you doing? Are you all right?”
Flehming is a reaction seen in many mammals. It causes the lips to curl back thus allowing more chemical aromas to register in the Jacobson’s Organ. This is situated in the roof of the mouth and, in wild cats, affords the cat an additional method of knowing the “lie of the land” and what other, possibly predatory, animals lurk nearby. In the domestic cat, this is not of such vital importance as with its wild brethren, and so the flehming reaction is not so obvious.
Cat senses are adaptations that allow cats to be very efficient hunters.Felines have a superb sight, hearing and sense of smell, and their touch is empowered by long whiskers on their heads and bodies. These highly efficient mechanisms allow cats to predate effectively in low light and at night.