Can Cats And Kittens Watch Television?

When my cats were younger, I gave them a special tuna treat for dinner every Friday evening. I poured the liquid from “people tuna” (packed in water, not in oil) over some tasty dry food. All of the cats came running as soon as I opened the first can. The resulting caterwauling and cavorting, which went on until each was served, was sometimes the most fun I had all week!

On one occasion, I decided to videotape the event for posterity. Well, for myself, actually. Even if I had posterity, no one would likely be interested in seeing my cats vie for position as I dish out tuna treats, unless it’s to be used as evidence for committing me to the nearest asylum.

Anyway, I placed the video camera on a chair across the room and turned it on. Voilà! A 20-minute video of my clowder yammering for their dinner, snarfing it down, and clamoring for more. Oddly, when I played back the video days later, several of the cats dashed into the living room to watch, the sounds of their own excited voices presumably drawing them to the television.

OK, so I already knew that a few of my cats liked watching TV. Dusty was the first one I noticed glued to the set: She became engrossed in a lengthy car chase scene during The Road Warrior, one of Mel Gibson’s early films. I doubt it was the handsome hunk that attracted Dusty to the 20-minute celluloid event. No, as the cars raced from one side of the screen to the other, Dusty’s head moved back and forth as if she were watching a tennis match.

Do Cats Watch TV?

In addition, my kitten Peaches would jump onto a favorite perch in front of the TV whenever I yelled, “Peaches, it’s Marty Stouffer’s Wild America!” Even if the show was about plants, the host’s mellow voice caught her ear, and she watched the show for nearly the entire half hour that it aired every week. Occasionally, when I brought home a cat-care video for my own edification, a few of my cats would sit up and take notice as soon as they heard two-dimensional cats meowing from the TV.

Fortunately for me, as well as for my cats, some astute, creative individuals in the video business have taken notice that it isn’t only we humans who like to veg out in front of the boob tube now and then. Thanks to the market savvy of these folks, we cat owners can lavish our feline family members with videos of birds, squirrels, fish, cats, and kittens. And we buy, wanting to give our cats the things their mothers never had as kittens.

One of my cats’ favorites is Video Catnip, the video that started it all. Full of birds and squirrels, Video Catnip uses sound and motion to hold a cat’s interest. If your cat isn’t attracted to the set as soon as the tape starts rolling, position the television near eye level, or place the cat on a perch near the screen. I made a special TV-watching stand for my cats by carpeting a huge wooden spool discarded by a utility company. If you don’t have one of these, simply use a convenient chair. Fast-forward the video past those annoying opening announcements or credits to the really fun (from your cat’s perspective) stuff.

To get your cat to look at the screen, tap on it a few times until the movements of the birds or squirrels attract their attention. Remove any breakables from the vicinity of the TV so your cat won’t end up pulverizing them if she jumps to catch a bird flying off the screen. You might even view such a session as another opportunity to videotape your cats so you and they can watch themselves watching television—or watch themselves watching themselves watching television.