That’s Entertainment

So I put on one of those YouTube “videos for cats” — usually videos of birds and small mammals scampering about — to see if the cats would, in fact, be intrigued by them. The answer, for Zeus at least, is yes. I eventually had to turn it off because he was trying to figure out whether he could leap up on the shelf to go after the monster-sized critters, and I figured that would not end well, either for the cat or for the electronics.

But it’s good to know that in fact one may amuse one’s cats in this fashion. This may come in handy over the weekend, as apparently we have a large winter storm coming, with up to six inches of snow. As for me, I’ll probably read a book.

34 Comments on “That’s Entertainment”

  1. I use an old cheap wifi tablet in a case to show the cats Paul Dinning YouTube videos. Works great.

  2. I still have an old VHS ‘tape for cats’ that my last two loved as kittens. Like you, I had to keep an eye on furniture in case they tried to interact with the picture.

  3. I remember that Percy was quite happy to paw at the figures in the opening of Yuri on Ice. (Apparently, the motions of animated ice skaters is enough to trigger a prey drive in my cat. I assume real birds or mice would be better.)

  4. beccastareyes, our cat used to do the same thing for NHL games–the little hockey players on ice were apparently irresistible. Sometimes he would sit on top of the old console television and hang down over the screen to bat at the players skittering about, until he overbalanced and fell off . . . it was more entertaining than the game.

  5. I’ve found that video game streams do a pretty good job of keeping my cat entertained – or at least not feeling lonely when I’m out at work – I’ve been leaving the AGDQ (Awesome Games Done Quick) stream running while I’m at work – and when they’re not running I have either the Giant Bomb Infinite or Loading Ready Run stream going.

  6. Not one of my three cats shows any interest in anything on a screen. They get excited about birds on the other side of a window, but just don’t seem to see anything on a screen.

  7. Once when I was cat-sitting for a friend I brought along a VHS tape of The Lion King, which had and almost mesmerizing effect on the cat.

  8. My cat does not even see the tv screen, but she will bat at a tablet.

    You will be getting the storm that puttering through Colorado right now- some nice rain here in Fort Collins (we need it!) and maybe snow later. Enjoy :-)

  9. The only thing that gets my cat interested in the TV are scrolling tickers at the bottom/top of a screen on the news & sports channels.

    He sits there and paws at the corners where the letters are disappearing.

    It’s really funny when the TV’s on Bloomberg or other financial channels that have multiple tickers, especially if they move at different speeds or move in opposite directions. He gets confused and can’t make up his mind which to paw at.

    I have to change the channel after five to ten minutes since he starts getting frustrated that he can’t catch the disappearing letters, starts to growl, and eventually meows and howls.

    Once I left the house with the TV on Bloomberg for about 30 minutes. When I returned a patch of the 6×8′ rug in front of the TV was torn up by his claws and ended up being throw in the trash. Thank god it wasn’t in the bedroom with wall to wall carpet.

  10. Our cat Catesby is endlessly fascinated by video games, and will perch on the end of the coffee table, rapt, for hours while by gf plays Elder Scrolls. The other two are less interested, unless we put on a YouTube video that features red string unfurling against a white background … in which case all three cats sit in front of the TV and periodically jump up to bat at the screen.

  11. Neither Thunderpurr nor Shiraz Cloudfur pays any attention to the TV. Both have decided that if they can’t smell it, it isn’t real. However, our old cat Alphonse adored football. He’d watch those creatures skittering around for ages. He’d been a street cat for a couple of years, so mayabe he’d learned not to ignore motion.

  12. Two of my cats love these videos, and will jump onto the tv table to get close to the action. One of them looks behind the tv, trying to figure out where the squirrels and birds go.

    The other cat in the house is afraid of tv, although “cat tv” is apparently less frightening than Doctor Who or (oddly enough) The Muppet Show. Muppets are obviously out to eat small cats, and we humans are untrustworthy fools for allowing them into our home.

  13. I just have to wonder when a six inch snow storm became a storm? Isn’t that a regular set of winter weather, as opposed to a “storm”? Let alone a serious storm?

    Not blaming Scalzi, or anyone, really. But when I was a kid, 6 inches didn’t even get the school start time adjusted, much less closed the schools. This was 1955-68, at 2500 feet in southern WV, so not Maine or ND.

  14. Various cats of our household have done different things. Some (the older ones) were indifferent; the youngsters liked Interesting! Things! on the screen, and their interest seemed to pique reactions from the elders.

    Later, two of the elders developed specialized interests: the elder male would for sure get in front of the screen if a nature program with birds in flight was on. His litter-mate sister seemed less interested until the item was more like an electronic game representation of a mouse. (We don’t play games on our screen; but there was a science program using similar graphics.)

    Our current lot has one guy who likes Other Cats. Being that he was Best Friends with the Elder Sister before she died, and is such a Cat’s Cat that it’s taken months before he’s allowed himself to take comfort from one of those Monkeys (that would be my heroic husband), I’m for interpreting this as “I really miss other cats!”, even though he’s got his brother.

  15. Our current ElderCat will reach up and paw at the TV when I put on bird feeder cam videos. The Snowshoe is far too lazy, and Silly Things of That Nature are below the dignity of the Siamese.

  16. I have to avoid putting those up on the main TV; when we first brought Marcus home from the rescue four years ago, he would jump up on the console and sit right in front of the TV and occasionally paw at it. If he ever puts his weight on the panel, it would go over.

    Our compromise was to put the videos on the smaller but sturdier computer monitor. He’d sit there and watch for usually 20-30 minutes. Nowadays, he’s grown out of watching them, but we’ve rearranged the house so there’s not a spare computer in the shared living area either, so I don’t know if he’d watch it again. He did spare a few minutes watching the Roku fishbowl screensaver when we put that in the bedroom, but nothing like he used to when he was younger.

  17. Not a cat, but my beagle that I had before my current one would always treat our TV in the living room as another window (which made some sense considering it was right near the glass doors to our patio) so when he was following something outside he saw through the patio he’d stare at the TV when whatever it was moved “behind” it. Occasionally did it the other way when something on TV moved off screen, but normally didn’t seem as interested as what he saw on the TV as what he heard (howling at the front door when a show had a doorbell for example).

  18. My cat, Lacey, loves the YouTube bird videos for cats, and sometimes will look behind the TV for the birds that must hiding there. I’ll likely be hunkered down the same snow storm in good old west-central Ohio. But I am prepared. I have the new novel by some guy called Scalzi to finish, plus a stack of comic book collections.

  19. Your TV appears to be at about the right hieght; eye level while sitting. This business of hanging televisions 6’ up onto a wall in one’s living room is insane. Who needs a sore neck watching a TV in the sky unless you’re in a bar? Even then those bar stools are nearly a foot higher than your standard Barcalounger. Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine. Incidentally, it appears your set is installed atop an electronic fireplace, which isn’t the same as a real fireplace or gas log unit regarding heat output and direction. My idiot brother-in-law hung a 65” something or other behemoth above his wood fireplace and melted the bottom bezel and part of the screen. Lucky he didn’t burn the house down. Sure didn’t do much good for his television.

  20. When my brother and I were kids, our family cat absolutely adored cat or bird episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. (This was before YouTube, or for that matter before the Internet.)

  21. This story would have a more true-to-cat-like ending if Zeus was actually intently watching the little amber LED on the front of the TV cable box.

  22. My spouse was idly channel-cruising recently, and found some online video of angry cats vocalizing. Our old cat largely ignored the ongoings, but the two youngsters (about 16 months old) were on high alert. The smaller one wouldn’t go near the television, just watched from across the room with his tail all puffy, but his larger brother Smudgely got right up on the entertainment center to confront the angry cat yowling on the screen.

    I told Spouse if he wants to entertain himself that way, we need to bungie-cord the television set in place, because it’s not going to survive repeated Smudgely attacks otherwise. We bungie-corded the Christmas tree onto the table it was on, and that stayed in place the entire month of December despite being climbed daily by a pair of crazy felines, so I figure the same solution would work for the television.

  23. My cat pays no attention to the TV but my dog, Ziggy Stardawg, loves to watch other dogs, cats, and even horses! In fact, he’s especially enamored of horses, and we want to take him somewhere he can see them for real, especially since he probably has no idea how big they really are. I’m not sure Churchill Downs has a dog-friendly area, though.

  24. We refer to these videos as “kitty crack.” Our previous cats would watch endlessly when we put them on. Haven’t tried with the current cats, although one is a mighty hunter, so I suspect she wouldn’t be able to resist.
    I scrolled by a video of two mountain lions (I think) having a conversation and both of the cats oriented, with the skittish one jumping out of the cozy spot. That was just audio…not sure what would have happened if they had seen the video as well.

  25. Several months ago I discovered that our then-kitten, Lucy, loved having birds on the TV. Lucy’s now a grown-up cat, and we have a new kitten, Linus, so I put the birdies up on the TV again, to see how all three cats would react. I was not disappointed. I posted it to my Instagram account, if anyone reading this is interested!

  26. My late lamented puddy was indifferent to video, with two exceptions. One time there was a greyhound race on TV which put her on full alert. The screen had shrunk the dogs down to about rat size. Another time I played, on my laptop, a YouTube video of a singing canary. She leaped onto the table and circled the laptop, desperate to find the bird. We’d recently minded my son’s canary for a few days, carefully kept from her behind a closed door, and she’d done a fair job of pretending unconcern about it. No one was fooled, however.

  27. I will neither confirm nor deny that I bought Mom and Dad’s late cat her own ottoman so that she could lounge in front of the TV and demand that the creatures with thumbs put on her butterfly DVD.

  28. Our daughter doesn’t keep a TV, and when she and her cat were visiting, kitty spotted birds on ours . She zipped right up and patted it, decided it was a window, and peered BEHIND the screen, right side then left, which resulted in her odd little noise of disappointment and a very sharp look at us.

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