Do Cats Like to Watch TV?

Cats are curious creatures that respond very well to visual cues and exciting sounds. They need mental stimulation, and that’s what television provides cats.

Some cats love to watch television. A cat’s brain processes images much faster than ours, so they perceive television screens as flickering, which piques their interest. Cats with a distinct hunting instinct are more likely to watch television. Cats believe that the animals on TV are in the same room as them. This can lead to behavior problems if the TV is always left on. Cats are more attracted to the sounds than the images of the television, especially when they hear animal sounds.

While many cats enjoy watching television, most prefer to observe life through a window where they can see real birds and other animals.

If your cat has a strong hunting instinct, he might even scratch the TV to reach the animals and risk an accident or injury.

Do Cats Like to Watch Television?

Cats enjoy visual stimuli because they are also visual creatures. As mentioned earlier, they respond to visual and vocal stimuli, which sharpens their cognitive functions and enhances their senses.

However, not all cats like to watch television. Some are afraid of the noise and moving images and avoid any room where a television is on.

Others find it soothing and might even fall asleep in front of the screen, uninterested in what’s on. Cats that like to watch television do so for the following reasons.

They Mistake the Television for a Window

Many cats sit on the windowsill for hours, watching the world go by.

Many cats enjoy watching television because they respond so strongly to visual stimuli, especially if something on the screen piques their interest, like birds or other animals.

Televisions are like windows, especially when animal programs are on. Cats can watch the TV from a distance and lie in front.

This gives them a sense of relaxation and calm before they fall asleep.

They Are Curious

Cats are curious by nature. Kittens, in particular, are fascinated by television sets and love to watch moving pictures.

Curious kitties explore the TV with their paws and sniff the back of the set to find out where the sounds are coming from.

Many cats lose interest when they become adults, but some retain their interest in the TV.

They Have a Strong Hunting Instinct

Cats with strong hunting instincts are more likely to be interested in television.

Their attention is captured by changing colors and movements on the screen. They believe the animals on the television are in the room with them.

Some cats lunge at the screen because of this strong hunting instinct, believing they can stalk and catch the animals.

This can frustrate cats who like to get their paws on their prey. For others, it’s simply a fun game. But they may be too focused on what’s on the screen.

They Spend Time With Their Family

Some cats simply watch TV because they see their owners doing it. Many families often sit down to watch TV together and encourage their cats to enjoy the fun.

Cats with close bonds with their owners enjoy spending time with them, and television is the perfect opportunity to do so.

They don’t necessarily watch the screen but relax with their favorite humans.

They Dispel Boredom

When your cat is bored, a TV is an exciting way to pass the time till something more interesting happens.

Cats like to look at what’s happening around them. So watching fast-moving images on the TV can keep them well entertained.

Older cats or cats with health problems often also can’t move around. That’s where the TV provides an excellent alternative source of entertainment.

What Do Cats See When They Watch TV?

The answer to what a TV looks like for a cat depends on the cat’s age, intelligence, and ability to perceive colors and depth.


Scientists believe that cats perceive the world like a desaturated photograph. Cats must have good vision to hunt, avoid dangerous situations, and interact with other cats.

But they don’t see hues and saturation clearly as they don’t have as many cone cells as humans. This means they can’t see rich or well-defined colors.

They may not see in Technicolor, but the images they see are somewhat similar to what we see.

Cats also don’t see fine details. Instead, they have a tapetum, a reflective layer on the retina.

The tapetum reflects light in the eye and bounces it off the cones. This is also the reason for the cat’s pronounced night vision.

This means cats probably can’t see the colors on a television screen, either.

Depth Perception

Scientists currently do not know how cats perceive images on a television set, so we can only rely on theories.

Instead of seeing complete images, however, cats probably only see edges and outlines of the people and animals they see on the screen.

Also, cats see flickering because their brains react faster than the images being played. Cats can process images at 70-80 Hz faster than humans.

The faster the images are, the more interesting it is for cats to see what is on the screen.

For comparison, humans need about 20 frames per second or more to see smooth, clean motion on a television screen. Cats need about 100 frames per second to have the same experience.

New and Old Televisions

Because cats process images faster, older, standard 50 Hz televisions appear to have meaningless flickers that cats can’t perceive.

Modern TVs with a refresh rate of 100 Hz display less blurry images and, therefore, are more attractive to cats.

Televisions do not show moving video but a series of constantly updated images. The human brain cannot process these fast enough to make the images look seamless and smooth.

Newer televisions have a higher refresh rate, meaning the images update faster and have smoother motion.

To a cat’s eyes, still images on an old TV look like a series of flickering images. On a new TV, they look more compelling and natural and are likelier to pique their interest.

That said, cats rely more on hearing to understand the world around them.

They probably only see the flickering, fast-moving images but are attracted to the sound of a TV.

Bright Screen

Television screens can easily blind cats. This is because their eyes are built to see in the dark.

Even by our standards, TV screens often look too bright, especially if the settings are wrong.

However, cats can contract their pupils to limit the light and minimize the effects of light.

If your cat is in the room with you while you watch TV, make sure the screen is not set too bright.

Do Cats Understand Television?

Cats do not have the mental capacity to understand what a television is.

They can see colors and movement, but most cats cannot distinguish what is on the screen from real life.

Cats that have never been exposed to a television have an even harder time.

Because of this confusion, some cats might lash out at the TV screen. They could also see their reflection in the glass and mistakenly believe another cat is in the room.

Cats also become confused by the sound of the television. Their hearing is designed to detect exactly where their prey is.

And so the sounds can stress them out if they can’t see where they are coming from.

Do Cats Like It When the TV Stays On?

Whether or not cats like it when the TV is left on depends on their personality.

Some cat owners feel that leaving the TV on at work effectively calms and entertains cats.

In other words, the TV is supposed to provide them with company to avoid loneliness and boredom.

Cats with separation anxiety actually sometimes benefit from the sound of a television or radio. Separation anxiety occurs when cats can’t stand being away from their owners and become stressed.

The main warning sign of separation anxiety is when cats go to the bathroom in the home rather than the litter box. Other signs include:

  • Excessive grooming
  • Crying and loud screaming
  • Eating too quickly or not at all
  • Destructive behavior
  • Extreme excitement when owners come home

Some cats like the TV on when they are home alone. But others are frightened and agitated by the sounds and moving images.

If your cat is not used to having the TV on, it is better to turn it off when you are not home.

As mentioned earlier, if your cat has strong hunting skills, the TV is more likely to irritate him.

Depending on how playful your cat is, there is a risk that he will pounce on the TV in your absence.

Since you can’t stop this behavior, your cat could knock the set over or cause an injury.

There are better, safer ways to entertain your cat while you’re away:

  • Hide treats and toys that your cat can search for and find.
  • Provide a few scratching posts of various sizes.
  • Install a pet camera that you can use to talk to your cat and even give him treats.

Why Do Cats Scratch at Televisions?

It’s a problem when cats scratch televisions. Most modern televisions have sensitive screens where even the slightest scratch can be seen.

In addition, there is always a risk that your cat will knock the TV over. Cats scratch televisions because:

  • They see their reflection in the glass.
  • The scratching attracts your attention.
  • They see a bird or a mouse on the TV screen.
  • A sound from the TV triggers their hunting instinct.
  • They are attracted to the warmth and glow of the TV.

Some cats stop pawing at the TV on their own after a while, while others develop a bad habit that worsens over time.

Here’s how to prevent your cat from scratching the TV:

  • Place a scratching post near the television.
  • Play with your cat enough.
  • Cover the TV with a sheet or blanket when it is off.
  • Prevent access to the room where the TV is located.

What TV Shows Do Cats Like?

Cats respond most positively to videos featuring birds, mice, and fish. The videos and shows cats are most interested in have sounds.

YouTube is the best place to go to find cat-friendly videos. Here are some examples of shows that interest many cats.

Do Cats Like to Watch Bird Videos?

Eight Hour Bird Bonanza is an eight-hour video on YouTube that shows different birds eating birdseed in various outdoor locations.

Cats are fascinated by the sudden movements and chirping because the birds fly in and out of the screen so quickly. It almost makes them feel like they are outside in nature.

Bird videos provide a lot of mental stimulation and heighten your cat’s senses. However, if your cat seems frustrated, turn it off.

Do Cats Like to Watch Mouse Videos?

Similar to bird videos, videos of mice are also popular with cats. Here’s an eight-hour video on YouTube that also shows mice in action.

The video is accompanied by squeaking sounds, so your cat’s ears will perk up as soon as you turn it on.

Do Cats Like to Watch Fish Videos?

Not all cats are as captivated by fish as they are by birds and mice, but try this video about fish that is also eight hours long.

As the fish quickly rise and fall on the screen, this video grabs attention and entertains cats for the duration of the video.

Do Cats Like to Watch Cat Videos?

This is a debatable question, as territorial cats are likely to get angry when another cat appears on the screen, especially if she can’t understand that the cat is not in the room.

Most cat videos will be stressful for your cat, regardless of how funny she reacts to them.

If you turn on a cat video, your cat will likely start hissing and becoming aggressive.

She might also start defecating inappropriately to mark her territory. Therefore, you should probably stay away from cat videos more.

Is TV Bad for Cats?

There is not enough research to determine if television is harmful to cats.

However, most veterinarians agree that there are rarely any adverse side effects. But more studies are needed to be sure.

While there are no known medical side effects, watching too much television can lead to behavioral problems such as scratching, destruction, or bad behavior.

Behavior varies from cat to cat; some are more affected by television than others.

Is Television Bad for Cats’ Eyes?

Prolonged television viewing can cause fatigue in your cat’s eyes.

While it won’t harm your cat’s eyes to watch TV, you should turn it off now and then to give her a break.

Try to minimize the risk of eye strain.

Is Too Much Television Bad for Cats?

Watching TV regularly is fine as long as your cat gets enough exercise.

She should also go outside and play with her toys and you. If all your cat does is watch TV, you have a problem.

Then it would help if you stimulated your cat mentally and physically by turning off the TV and interacting with her as much as possible.

Is Loud Television Bad for Cats?

Loud television is a problem for cats because it can cause stress. Cats are very well attuned to locating their prey. This means they are susceptible to noise.

Loud televisions affect Nervous or anxious cats most, but excessive noise harms all cats.

Excessive noise can cause hypertension or high blood pressure. Cats will run away and hide from home if startled by a loud noise.

If your cat is exposed to noise levels above 95 decibels for extended periods, he may develop hearing damage.

An average television has a volume of 75 decibels. But if it’s too loud, it can easily reach 95 decibels.

Can Cats Become Addicted to Television?

It is rare for cats to become addicted to television.

However, cats with a strong prey drive seem to focus a lot on what is on the screen. This can give the impression that they are addicted.

However, if your cat is constantly meowing at the screen, he may have difficulty distinguishing between television and reality.

It would be best to try distracting your cat by playing with their favorite toy with them in this case.

Watch for compulsive or alarming behaviors such as:

  • Increased vocalizations
  • Excessive grooming
  • Pawing and scratching at the television screen.
  • Sitting next to the television

If you suspect your cat is obsessed with the television, you must wean him off the set to prevent unwanted behaviors.

Why Doesn’t My Cat Watch TV?

It is usual for some cats to ignore the television altogether. Cats prefer to observe what is going on outside.

They are attracted to wildlife that can see through a window rather than a television screen.

Television and electronic audio devices are meant for the ears and eyes of humans. This is another reason why some cats do not respond to the television and ignore it.

Cats with vision or hearing problems are less interested in television because it provides no enrichment or stimulation.

Cats that don’t understand what is happening may be more fearful and ignore the TV because they don’t like what they hear or see on the screen.

Why Do Cats Watch TV But Dogs Don’t?

Cats have a slightly better color vision than dogs. For dogs, television is no different than reality. This is because they see dichromatically, which means they see everything in yellow and blue.

It is thought that dogs’ cone cells blur their vision. Dogs need 70 or more frames per second to detect motion.

In comparison, cats need 100, as we mentioned earlier. Consequently, dogs see most television like a strobe light or a flip book, which is not very interesting.

However, not all dogs ignore the television. One study showed that dogs can recognize images of other dogs based on visual cues alone.

When dogs are on the screen, they are primarily attracted to dogs of the same species.

Probably nothing else on TV interests them, so they don’t bother to look. But they do react when they see a similar dog on the screen.

Even though it’s safe for cats to watch TV, you should watch your pet to ensure they don’t get hooked or misbehave due to too much visual stimulation.

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I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.
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I, Daniel Popovic (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.