Many cats enjoy watching TV.
Our own cat Whisky particularly enjoys watching tennis, rugby and football she will sit on the TV stand and swipe at the ball!
It is not uncommon for cats to enjoy watching TV.
Cat’s with a high prey drive are often stimulated by movements on-screen such as a ball, bird or mouse and will watch carefully and sometimes may try and pounce or swipe at the screen.
Why Do Cats Like To Watch TV?
A study was carried out in 2008 which looked at how shelter cats who didn’t have access to a window responded to TV imagery.
The study found that some cats were particularly stimulated and exciting by videos showing birds, mice and fish.
However the study also found that not all cats were stimulated by the TV.
This is likely to be because cats have varying prey drives. This means that some cats have a strong instinct to hunt and chase prey whereas in other cats that instinct is far more diminished.
If your cat does enjoy watching TV this suggests that they have a high prey drive.
Be aware: Human eyes will only see flickering on screen at a refresh rate of 50/60Hz, whereas felines and canines will see flickering at rates as high as 70/80Hz.
Older CRT screens have a refresh rate of around 50/60Hz so if a cat is watching TV on that it will be constantly flickering for them which will make the images appear even more confusing to them making your cat far less likely to enjoy watching TV.
Thankfully modern LCD TVs have very high refresh rates above 100Hz so your cat won’t notice any flickering with these.
What TV Shows Do Cats Like?
Your cat probably isn’t going to be into Friends, The Office, Greys Anatomy or similar TV programs.
Instead, cats prefer TV that stimulates them with movement (rather than engaging plotlines and interesting character developments) that they can track on screen.
For example, our cat loves watching sport.
Her favourite sport to watch is rugby but she also enjoys football and tennis because she loves watching the ball go back and forth and occasionally tries to catch it herself!
Recommended TV Shows & Videos For Cats To Watch
Here are some suggestions of sports programmes and films which your cat may enjoy:
- Match of the day (BBC)
- Friday Night Lights
- Bend It Like Beckham
- The Longest Yard
…you get the idea, any TV program or film that has balls moving around in it at some point may be of interest to your cat, the same is true of any films that have birds frequently fluttering around on screen such as Fly Away Home.
To be honest most films and TV programs will have a lot of footage in them that is of absolutely no interest to a cat (even sports-related programs).
If you really want to give your cat something to watch that they will love from start to finish then you should try some purpose-made cat YouTube videos.
Here are a some of the most popular ones:
There are also plenty of mobile apps for cats that allow your cat to swipe at fish or mice and set high scores!
Can Cats See What’s Happening When They Watch TV?
It’s unclear how much of what a cat sees on TV they are actually aware of. Some studies have been carried out which suggest that cats can distinguish different outlines and patterns which helps them identify things such as mice and birds on screen.
In the real world, cats rely far more heavily on their acute hearing and their sense of smell to work out what is going on so they are not used to being able to rely only on their sight to work things out.
If a cat is sufficiently interested in what is occurring on the screen then yes they will be able to work out what is happening to a degree. For example, they would be able to see that a bird is flying on the screen or a mouse is running across it.
Either way, we can be certain that cats won’t watch TV in the same way we do. Our brains take in the whole picture and then focus on what we believe is the key thing occurring, be that a conversation, action or something else.
A cat will primarily be watching out for any sudden movement such as some prey or a ball moving so they have a less holistic view of what’s happening.
What Do Cats Think When They Watch TV?
When your cat watches Tv it is safe to say that they probably arent thinking about why the standard of screen writing is not what it used to be or why there is so much violence on TV these days!
No one knows for sure exactly what a cat thinks when they watch TV however we know that cats act instinctively.
They have seen movement on the screen which looks interesting to them as it could be prey or something to play with so their thoughts are likely to revolve around figuring out what exactly the cause of the intriguing movement is, followed closely by “can I catch it?”.
Is It Harmful To Let Your Cat Watch Too Much TV?
Kids who spend a lot of time in front of the TV are more likely to be overweight and behave aggressively.
Cat’s are obviously very different to kids and they have a far more active relationship with TV than kids do.
When a cat is watching TV they are intensely focused on tracking the movement that they can see on screen, they may chatter with excitement and may jump and swipe to catch things on the screen.
Your cat’s experience of watching TV is very active being both mentally and physically stimulating.
So don’t worry you won’t harm your cat at all by letting them watch TV, in fact the stimulation may be doing them good.
Is TV Bad For A Cat’s Eyes?
No, vets all agree that watching TV won’t damage your cat’s eyes…even if they stand right next to the screen to watch it as they love to do!
Cat’s eyes are not trying to focus on the image in the same way that we do, they are instead trying to track the movement of their potential prey.
This means their eyes won’t hurt like ours can from prolonged screen exposure.