Can Hamsters See Color? Vet-Verified Anatomy Facts & FAQ

Hamsters are not known for having outstanding eyesight, but can they see in color? As nocturnal animals, hamsters’ retinas are optimized to see in the dark and have limited color vision. They are considered dichromates and can probably see the world in blue and green shades. Like other rodents, their eyes are better adapted to see in low light than to see vivid shades of colors.

Learn more about hamster vision, how well they see at night, and how they see the world compared to humans and other animals.divider-hamster

What Colors Can Hamsters See?

Based on a study conducted by Korean University in 2009, hamsters have similar vision to mice.1 The retina, at the back of the eyes, contains two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones. Rods are responsible for vision in low-light conditions, while cones are effective in bright conditions and are involved in color vision. It is thought that they can probably see the world in blue and green shades.2 Hamsters have 96.99% rods and 3.01% cones, which correlates with their nocturnal habits.

Diurnal animals have retinas with a larger number of cone photoreceptors, and nocturnal animals, like hamsters, have more rods to see better in darkness—like having night-vision goggles.

blue eyed hamster in a cage
Image Credit: Makoto_Honda, Shutterstock

Does Light Bother Hamsters?

Hamsters don’t mind light, but they do best with natural light-dark cycles formed by the rising and setting of the sun. Artificial lights, such as the lights in your home, can disturb hamsters if they’re exposed to them throughout most of the night.

Like other nocturnal or crepuscular animals, hamsters thrive in low light. A bright light like sunlight or a spotlight can be blinding for a hamster, so you always want to give them a dark spot to hide and recharge.

Can Hamsters See in the Dark?

Hamsters are adapted to see in low light conditions, but that doesn’t mean they’re adapted to see in complete darkness. They still need dim light to interpret their surroundings. Unlike cats, hamsters do not possess a specialized night vision structure called tapetum lucidum. This thin layer located behind the retina acts like a mirror, allowing light to reach the photoreceptors twice, making the most of it.

red eyed hamster in black background
Image Credit: CWT.Photographer, Shutterstock

How Does Hamster Vision Compare to Human Vision?

There isn’t a lot of research into hamster vision, but a study conducted on the eyesight of mice showed that hamsters have retinas designed for night vision.3 Hamsters, unlike humans, do not have a fovea in their retina, this is an area of high density of cones which provides high-acuity vision. Instead, hamsters’ retina have a much higher density of rod photoreceptors and a minimal amount of cones throughout the retina.

Mice’s visual acuity is extremely low, equivalent to 20/2000 vision. The visual acuity of normal humans is 20/20. To put that in perspective, a hamster has to be approximately 100 times closer to an object to see it as sharply as we do. Their whiskers and smell play a very important role in helping them navigate the world apart from their eyesight.

When they’re born, hamsters have their eyes sealed tightly shut for the first 10 to 14 days. Once they open, hamsters never develop the sophisticated eyesight of some other animals, including humans.

white hamster in white background
Image Credit: Maros Bauer, Shutterstock



Hamsters don’t have the best vision and their color vision is not as rich as humans because they’ve adapted to see well in low-light conditions as nocturnal animals. Though they still can’t see in complete darkness, hamsters use their night vision, sense of smell, and sensitive whiskers to interpret the world around them.

Featured Image Credit: Marius Engen, Shutterstock

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Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Pillow? 8 Likely Reasons & What to Do

While some cats can be aloof and seemingly prefer to spend time away from you, others are more affectionate and spend every possible opportunity with you. These cats are the most likely to want to sleep on your pillow, or elsewhere on your bed, but even independent cats sometimes like the warmth, security, and potentially the solitude that your pillow has to offer.

There is nothing inherently wrong with letting your cat share your pillow, but if it is proving inconvenient, you may need to try and find an alternative solution.

Below, we look at the most likely reasons your cat has chosen to start sleeping on your pillow and what you can do, if anything, to prevent it.


The 8 Reasons Why Cats Like to Sleep on Pillows

1. It’s Warm

Cats thrive in warmth, which is why they seek out hotter areas in the house. As well as lying in the sun, cats will look for warm spots amongst clothes and in other areas. The bed is one of the warmest areas of the house. Not only is bedding comfortable but it insulates well.

It retains the warmth from your body as well as the warmth the cat itself gives off. Laying on your pillow maybe your cat’s way of ensuring that it has somewhere warm to sleep at night.

tuxedo cat that have sludgy face sleep on the pillow
Image Credit: Lapha.R, Shutterstock

2. It Offers Security

You are many things to your cat. You feed them and provide them with water. You offer company and stimulation. You are also your cat’s main form of security. If your cat occasionally spends time on your pillow, it could be that a sudden noise or movement scared your cat, and it is looking for the safety and security you offer.

If you have other pets, your cat might be looking to get away from the dog or another cat, and your pillow is the safest spot because it is right next to you. As well as being near you, your bed is in a slightly elevated position, and cats feel safer when they’re above ground level.

3. It Smells of You

Cats recognize faces but they also have a very strong sense of smell that enables them to be able to recognize your smell, as well as how you look. Your bed will naturally have some of your aroma on it, even if you have recently washed it. The pillow is soft and plump and smells of your shampoo, soap, and other scents that naturally make up your aroma.

Your cat may be sleeping on the pillow when you’re not there because it smells of you and gives your cat peace of mind.

Cat and owner sleeping together on bed
Image Credit: Marina mrs brooke,Shutterstock

4. Your Cat Loves You

If your cat is sleeping on the pillow next to your head, at night, it is a pretty good sign that you have a close, strong bond. Your feline friend wants to be as close to you as possible and is willing to risk getting rolled on to be close to you. They may choose to sleep on the pillow because it is safer than sleeping down by your feet, especially if you are the kind of person who rolls and kicks out while asleep.

5. Your Cat Trusts You

Sleeping next to you does pose something of a danger for your cat. If you roll or thrash your arms around in the night, it’s your cat that will get the brunt of your movements. He is also in a very prone position because he is asleep and not able to keep watch. That your cat is willing to sleep right next to you means they trust you.

cute cat sleeping in bed with owner
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

6. It’s Out of the Way

As well as being out of the way of your feet, the pillow might represent a safe haven from other cats and other people in the house. During the day, the bedroom is unlikely to be used too often, and at night, it’s quiet. The pillow might be an idyllic retreat for your cat.

7. Marking Territory

Cats scent and mark items and areas that belong to them. As well as actively rubbing furniture, your cat choosing to sleep on your pillow may be a way for it to impart some of its smell on the pillow and mark it as belonging to him.

cat sleeping on pillow
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

8. It’s Their Favorite Spot

Cats have their favorite spots. Areas where they like to spend time curled up and relaxing. Your pillow is an obvious spot because it’s warm and soft, and it smells like you. If your cat sleeps in there during the day, it may just want to continue sleeping on your pillow at night, next to you.


How to Stop Your Cat Sleeping on Your Pillow

1. Provide Beds

Make sure your cat has at least one comfortable bed somewhere else. If you’re happy having the cat in your room, you can try putting the cat bed next to your bed. Alternatively, pick a quiet area and put the bed there. Choose a soft, plump bed, or a donut-type bed that offers the same kind of experience as your pillow would.

cat sleeping peacefully in its bed
Image Credit: Aleksandar Cvetanovic, Unsplash

2. Shut Your Door

Shutting your cat out of the room at night can be difficult during the first few nights. It will take them time to get used to the new regimen, but ignore the complaints, and, eventually, your cat will get used to being out of the room.

3. Give Them Your Smell

Put a shirt or some other item of your clothing in their new bed. If they are sleeping on your pillow to bear your smell, the shirt will have the same aroma. It may be enough to appease your cat.

cute red cat sleeping on the human's legs
Image Credit: Vova Shevchuck, Shutterstock


Why Does My Cat Sleep Next to Me?

Your cat is likely sleeping next to you because you give off warmth or simply because they like to be near you and feel safe. Your cat also has to trust you a lot to sleep next to you because there is a danger of you rolling over.

Cats sometimes sleep with their favorite owner, but not necessarily always. If their favorite owner rolls and thrashes around, a cat may choose to sleep with another owner for warmth and comfort. Just because a cat sleeps next to you doesn’t necessarily mean you are their favorite human.

Should You Let Your Cat Sleep with You?

For most adults, it is perfectly safe for a cat to sleep next to or with them. If the person has allergies or reacts to cat dander or fur, it should be avoided. And you should prevent cats from sleeping next to children because there is a risk of scratching and biting.

Cats will generally choose where they want to sleep, but it is possible to restrict them to another room or other area of the house. This is especially important if you have allergies or if you don’t want cat hair on the bed at night. Ensure the cat has a comfortable bed and is warm enough in its designated room. Provide water, offer some toys in case they get bored, and be consistent in your efforts.



Cats have many ways they show us how much we mean to them, even if the signs aren’t always obvious. Sleeping on your pillow is an indication that your cat trusts you, at least, and that it is looking for warmth, security, or affection. It is generally safe for healthy adults to let cats sleep on their bed, as long as they aren’t allergic, but it is also possible to have the cat sleep in another area of the house.

Featured Image Credit: Yavdat, Shutterstock

The post Why Does My Cat Sleep on My Pillow? 8 Likely Reasons & What to Do appeared first on Pet Keen.