At night all cats are gray: what is this all about?

Why are all cats gray at night? Everyone knows the saying, but is there something about the saying? One thing is certain: So that the mice do not see them in the dark and therefore can better hunt cats, is not the right answer. In fact, all cats look gray at night - Shutterstock / By Tuzemka

At night all cats are gray - that's what we say when we want to express that a lot is the same in the dark or one can overlook certain defects when it is dark. The night blurs the differences, so to speak, makes them indifferent or equivalent. The cat has to serve as an example, whether it likes it or not.

All cats are gray at night: An explanation

The saying goes that everything looks the same or at least similar at night, i.e. in the dark. And that is not out of thin air, but can be traced back to our human vision. Our eyes have two types of visual cells: the cones responsible for the colors and the sticks responsible for seeing at dusk. When it gets dark, our cones can no longer work properly and, as it were, go to sleep. Instead, the chopsticks wake up and take care of our vision. Since the color vision is more or less inactive at night due to the "resting" cones and the chopsticks only ensure that we even notice a few light stimuli, everything appears colorless and gray.

But what do the cats have to do with it? There are several attempts to explain it, one of which is most likely: Because cats can see very well at night and like to roam at night, you can find the velvet paws on the street at night, unlike dogs. For us humans, the coat color then looks predominantly gray, so that the saying has become established over the years. So for us, all cats are actually gray at night. But of course dogs, trees, trash cans and other people also appear gray when the light is missing and our cones are no longer active.

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If you want to know exactly: An experiment

Make it really dark in the room after sunset. Then switch on a weak light - if you only have bright lamps, you can, for example, throw a cloth over a table lamp or position a flashlight in the corner of the room. If you are a cat owner, just bring your cat into the room and have a little walk around. No matter what fur color she has - she will definitely look gray now. Of course, you don't have to annoy your cat with the experiment, but you can also simply look at any objects that are now guaranteed to look gray.