Do you ever see your cat looking curiously out the window? Don’t worry, we’re sure they’re not making escape plans for the near future. Cats love windows, balconies, patios and every place where they get a chance to look outside, because they treat it as if it was… cat TV! Observing birds, insects, falling leaves, snow or even cars and pedestrians moving on the road is one of the greatest attractions for your cat, but it also serves as a brain exercise. When you leave for work, your cat is not sleeping through the entire day - with access to cat tv, they find tasks that will keep them occupied until you come back. How about using that to your advantage and incorporating cat tv in your house when you’re working from home?
What is cat TV?
When us, hoomans, sit before the TV, we’re hoping for a nice, relaxing evening and a chance to completely distance ourselves from everything around us. We’re not, hovewer, in a totally mindless state - tv can engage our brains and imagination, whether it’s to follow the plot of a series or the scores in a football match. For a cat, their “tv” does just the same - it builds on their passive engagement, imitating one of the biggest parts of the hunting cycle: observation. Watching the prey move around can take cat’s attention for hours, regardless if it’s a mouse, a bird or a bug on the ceiling. From a cat’s perspective, prey can be like your favourite tv series’ main character - you can’t leave it after just one episode!
There are many ways to provide your pet the perfect cat TV experience. It can be a balcony or a window secured with a net, with a cat tower set beside for a high up observation station. Our TOBI scratchers can fit perfectly on a window sill or a shelf beside the window, which will make the space even more attractive for your kitty and let them leave their scent, marking the spot as their own. However, a cat TV can also mean an aquarium with colourful pet fish, an insect habitat or a video of birds feeding in a garden that you play for your cat on the TV screen. You only need to be careful about your cat pushing the tv off the stand or trying to get into the aquarium, trying to catch the birds or eat the fish.
Cat TV: nature or virtual reality?
The more opportunities to observe the environment, the better. We’re serious about that - nobody likes monotony and if the action outside the window gets uninteresting, your cat will be bored. It’s good practice to provide your cat with a few different observation stations. If you’re living in a house, it’s easier - once you set a feeding post for birds in the garden, they will always come and entertain your cat.
What can you do, when you’re living in a smaller flat? If it’s difficult to get a good quality view outside the window, think about getting your kitty a small aquarium (there’s even fake ones, battery-operated ones) or putting a cat movie on the big screen or a tablet. The virtual reality won’t replace real life experience, but, speaking from experience, it still can get your cat’s attention for quite a long time.
Hunting birds and insects through the screen. How to make it safe for your cat?
Whether you choose to give your cat a tv experience through a window or the tv screen, remember, our dear fabCat, we’re always talking about a passive hunt. Domestic cats should not be let to roam freely in the neighbourhood and there should be no such thing as an “outdoor cat” who can come and go out of the house as they please. Cats are predatory and dangerous to the natural environment around us. However, cat tv gets them engaged passively and to release the built-up tension, you need to finish it with an everyday active hunting for a wand toy, a ball, a toy mouse or any other toy that your cat adores.
Why is it so important? Although the passive engagement through cat tv (hunt) can release a lot of your kitty’s energy and let them sleep peacefully while you work at home, without the follow-up of catch-kill-eat-groom-sleep, they won’t fulfill their natural hunting cycle. You may not have time for play when there’s a work Zoom call you need to attend, but you should make time at least once or twice a day to play with your cat, create a hunting experience and finish it off with a meal that closes the hunting cycle. With a routine like this, cat tv, either on screen or through the window, won’t be just an added frustration for your furries.
Cat mental exercise: get all the senses going while you work from home
If you’re part of the cat community on the internet, you’re sure to find at least one question a day asking about what to do with your cat if you’re working at home. It’s that exact question that led us to get into the topic of cat tv in the first place. Making a space for your cat to observe the environment as well as putting a tv program on for them can work, but we have to warn you: it won’t be always effective, because cats simply don’t like being ignored by their hoomans. How can you make their days more interesting then, if you need to finish up your projects on time or sit through a conference call without meowing in the background?
- First: get your cats into a routine
It can take a while and prove frustrating at times, but as long as you keep going, you will get your kitty used to playing just before you start working and after you have finished all your tasks for a day. If it’s not enough, treat your cat’s meowing as an invitation to take a little break and walk away from the computer. We all need that! 5-10 minutes of playtime should be enough: your cat will get tired, finish up the hunt with a meal and go to sleep, while you can go back to work safely, with a fresh mindset, better mood and energy to finish up without distractions.
- Second: create interactive playtime stations
Your cat won’t play alone if you throw them a ball carelessly, but they will get interested in interactive toys. Sniffing mats, automatic toys, obstacle courses with scratchers, cardboard houses and treats hidden around the house - preparing them shouldn’t take too long, but they will occupy your cat for a while and let them work with all their senses.
- Third: think about a furry companion
We don’t want to promote a “my cat is bored, I will take in another cat to keep him company” trend - we know how much responsibility and time is required to properly introduce a second cat into the house and go through a socialisation period. However, behaviourists always emphasise that two cats are better than one and if they can get along, there’s not a huge age gap between them (a kitten is not a good partner for a senior cat) - cats can and will entertain each other. Having two cats does not mean you can stop playing with them or paying attention to their needs, but if you do take the socialisation with isolation period seriously and responsibly, we do believe that they can do better in pairs, compared to being a single cat.
How is it for you, our dear fabCats? How many observation stations can you find in your house? Or maybe your kitties prefer watching the world from the window sill, top of the kitchen cabinet or the balcony, regardless of the weather outside? Leave us comments and share your ideas on cat TV - best online video recommendations are more than welcome! After all, we all need to get our cat interested in something else than our Skype conference from time to time.