I’ve heard that cats see very differently from human beings, that they see much more and much less, depending on how you look at it. Cats don’t see all the colour and field of view that human beings do, instead seeing a sort of haze in which motion is very clearly and quickly detected. Now, I’ve been a cat all for all my life, and a human for none of it, so I can’t comment with such authority on these differences. If humans really see all that much colour and field of view, then more power to them. Then again, having been, as I said, a cat for all my life I can tell you a thing or two about what it it is that cats do see.
First of all, we see light. We see it as a wild, flowing fluid, trying very hard to drench every inch of available space. When we enter a room, the first thing we do is to take a look at the light, see what it’s up to and adjust our eyes accordingly.
We see shadows. We see shadows of things that are there, which is pretty interesting as it is, but we also see shadows of things that aren’t there, things that may have been there very long ago, or that are going to be there in future, or things that may never, ever be there, but could have.We spend a lot of time staring at them.
We see all the creatures in a place, the ones that are of a sufficient size and scale to be seen, but we also see all the creatures that are thinking of that space, the ones that are being thought of in that space and the ones that the space itself is thinking of. You’d be surprised to know who your kitchens think of, or your balconies.We spend a lot of time stalking these creatures or playing with them if they are friendly, or even if they aren't.
We see intention and emotion at a glance. We can see when someone is angry, or tired, or just not interested, but we don’t care. If we’re playful, or cuddly we’ll test those people anyway until they give on, or confirm what we already know about their state of mind.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little essay. I’ve tried to show you how cats don’t always act upon what they see and how they don’t always see what humans seem to act upon. I haven’t tried to make any assumptions about what humans can or can’t see, but that’s because cats are far too arrogant to assume knowledge that they do not have. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a shadow there that you don’t seem to care about which I have to go inspect.