One afternoon my sons had loads of questions about cats, mainly how cats see and why cat eyes appear to glow in the dark. Why do cats’ eyes glow? Maybe you’re wondering “Can cats see in the dark?” Why not, right? Their eyes glow. It seems like a reasonable conclusion.
So I set off researching for a science activity that would help us explore that concept. Sure enough, I found one in Janice VanCleave’s Big Book of Play and Find Out Science Projects.
Can Cats See in the Dark?
Not really is the short answer but according to this article about how cats see the world compared to humans, cats do have superior night vision.
“Cats can’t see fine detail or rich color but have a superior ability to see in the dark because of the high number of rods in their retina that are sensitive to dim light. As a result, cats can see using roughly one-sixth the amount of light that people need.”
How cool is that?
Cat Eyes – Science Behind Why They Glow
Cat Eyes Science Materials Needed
- Empty Can
- A Light
- Rubber Band
- Black Piece of Plastic
Steps to Cat Eyes Activity
- Cut a 4 x 4 square of plastic
- Cut an oval in the center of the plastic square
- Use a rubber band to secure the plastic over the empty can
- Grab your light and the can and head into a dark space
- Hold the can around your chest and have a partner shine the light into the can
Science Behind Why Cats Eyes Glow
Cats appear to have glowing cat eyes because the back of their eyeballs includes a special reflective surface called the tapetum lucidum.
Light comes into the eye, the light is supposed to hit the photoreceptor that transmits information to the brain.
When light doesn’t hit the photoreceptor, so the tapetum lucidum acts as a mirror and bounces the light back for another chance.
Resources Exploring Animal Science
- Arctic Animal Science Experiment for Preschoolers
- Animal Science – Study of Spiders & Exploring Webs
- Animal Science Slug Unit – Preschool Zoology
- Science Project Ideas for Kids
- The Best Children’s Books about Eyes
- Explore the Eye’s Blind Spot with Your Kids
- Unique & Fun Ways to Learn about the Eye
- Parts of the Eye Activity