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What is a Cat’s Eyes?

Have you ever seen a pet cat’s eye light up at night when a beam of light is shone into it? Or had a photo of a cat ruined by the flash turning the cat’s eye a lurid glowing green? Percy Shaw of Halifax, Yorkshire in England was inspired by such an event and created the safety device that is used in everyday road construction.

Percy Shaw was driving at night in the fog and was unsure where the road ended. Suddenly, his headlights flashed onto the eyes of a cat that was sitting by the side of the road. This allowed him to correct his driving and keep on the road. He thought “Wouldn’t it be useful if you had a whole lot of cats sitting along the side of the road at regular intervals? Then you’d always be able to see where the road ended.” And so he set about designing the cat’s eye.

Cats’ eyes are used all over the world to mark the centre of a road. A catseye consists of two pairs of reflective glass spheres that are set into a rubber dome which is mounted into a cast iron housing. A cats’ eye in the centre of the road is designed to reflect light from a vehicle’s headlights back into the eyes of the driver.

Cats’ eyes are capable of reflecting two ways if they are placed in the centre of the road. Or cat’s eyes can reflect just one way if they are used for indicating road margins or lane divides. Cats-eyes are superb in fog, as they guide the driver along the road even when visibility is very poor.

The rubber dome that holds the reflective glass is protected from the impact of a car tyre by metal “kerbs”. The metal curbs will also give audible feedback for a driver is wandering from the lane of travel.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is a Cat’s Eyes?’!

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