Are Videos Good For Your Cat? The Pros and Cons of Feline Screen Time


Cats have become internet sensations, with cat videos consistently ranking among the most popular content online. In fact, videos of cats garner more views per day than most other animals combined ( But why do our feline friends take such an interest in screens? And is it beneficial or harmful for cats to watch videos intended for their amusement?

Why Do Cats Watch Videos?

Cats are natural hunters with strong predatory instincts. When cats see movement on a screen, it can trigger their instinct to stalk prey. This is likely why some cats become very engaged with videos of animals, nature scenes, or even movies with a lot of action. According to one source, “Some cats may simply be more curious or have a higher prey drive, while others may be less interested in such stimuli.” [1] Essentially, the moving images on screen resemble prey to cats, tap into their hunting instincts, and capture their attention.

Benefits of Cat Videos

Watching cat videos can provide some cognitive stimulation and entertainment for cats. According to a study by researchers at Indiana University, watching cat videos produces positive emotions and increases energy in viewers (source). The visual and auditory stimulation cats receive from cat videos can activate their brains and capture their interest much like prey or toys would. In moderation, the mental stimulation from cat videos may help entertain cats and prevent boredom.

Potential Downsides

While cat videos can provide some benefits, watching too much video content may have some downsides as well. One potential issue is overstimulation. Cats have sensitive hearing and vision, so noisy or fast-moving videos can overwhelm them. This overstimulation may cause anxiety, agitation, or other behavioral issues.

It’s recommended to limit a cat’s video viewing time and monitor their reaction. Signs of overstimulation include dilated pupils, panting, agitation, hiding, or aggression. If a cat seems stressed by the videos, it’s best to turn them off and give the cat a chance to calm down.

Another potential downside is dependency. Just like humans, cats can become reliant on video entertainment if that’s all they’re exposed to for mental stimulation. It’s healthier for cats to have a mix of playtime, human interaction, environmental exploration, and only occasional video viewing.

Moderation is key when it comes to cat videos. While they can be an enjoyable form of enrichment, too much viewing time may lead to overstimulation or dependency. Pay attention to your cat’s signals and limit videos to short, positive sessions.

Appropriate Video Content

When choosing videos for cats, aim for content that is calming and enriching without being overstimulating. Some good options include:

Nature scenes like birds at a feeder or squirrels playing can provide mental stimulation and allow cats to indulge their natural hunting instincts from the comfort of home (Source). Slow-paced videos are less likely to stress or overexcite cats.

Videos of other cats can also be interesting for your feline to watch, as they may relate to the behaviors and interactions they see. However, avoid clips with agitated or aggressive cats, as these could be upsetting.

In general, it’s best to avoid fast-paced, chaotic videos with loud noises, flashes, or quick scene changes. These types of overstimulating videos are more likely to stress your cat out.

Aim for content that is calming, enriching, and relatable to cats. Slow-moving nature scenes and feline behavior videos are good options. Avoid anything overstimulating or distressing.

Recommended Viewing Time

While cats may enjoy watching videos designed for their stimulation and entertainment, experts agree that moderation is key when it comes to screen time. The general consensus among veterinarians and animal behaviorists is that cats should not watch videos for more than 30 minutes per day.

Excessive video watching can lead to overstimulation and stress in cats. Cats have sensitive eyesight and hearing, so too much exposure to fast-moving sights and sounds on a screen can be overwhelming. Just like humans, cats need a balance between mentally stimulating activities and relaxing downtime.

Limiting a cat’s video watching to 30 minutes or less per day prevents issues like restlessness, agitation, anxiety, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbances that can arise from overstimulation. It also encourages cats to spend more time on important activities like play, exercise, and social interaction.

While enjoying cat videos in moderation is fine, be sure to actively engage with your cat in other ways as well. Set a timer if needed, and stick to the 30 minute maximum for your cat’s health and wellbeing.

Signs of Overstimulation

An overstimulated cat may exhibit signs of aggression or restlessness. According to the ASPCA, common signals of overstimulation include tail swishing, skin twitching, flattened ears, tenseness, dilated pupils, low growls, and walking away [1]. A cat that is overstimulated may become very reactive and is more likely to bite or scratch. This is because the cat feels threatened and their fight-or-flight response has kicked in.

Restlessness is another sign of overstimulation in cats. An agitated or restless cat may pace, vocalize excessively, or seem unable to settle down. Their muscles may also appear tense. According to, overstimulated cats often suddenly bite while being petted because they’ve reached their tolerance threshold for stimulation [2]. Paying attention to your cat’s body language can help identify when they need a break.

Tips for Success

Cat owners can increase the chances that their feline friends will enjoy and benefit from watching videos by following a few tips:

Keep it varied. Cats can get bored easily, so try showing a variety of video types and subjects. Switch between videos of prey animals, other cats, nature scenes, music visualizations, etc. Rotate through several types during a video watching session.

Use interactive toys. Pair video watching with toys that entice cats to pounce, chase, and hunt. Try handheld feather wands or motorized balls that cats’ natural preying instincts kick in when they see motion on the screen. This turns viewing into an enriching game.

Monitor reactions. Pay attention to your cat’s body language – ears perked forward, eyes focused, or tail swishing likely signal engagement and enjoyment. But if your cat turns away, seems anxious, or overstimulated, it’s best to turn off the video.

By keeping things varied, making viewing interactive, and monitoring reactions, cat owners can make video watching enriching for their pets.

Popular Cat Videos

Some of the most popular and viral cat videos of all time include:

“Nyan Cat [original]” – This 8-bit animation of a cat with a Pop-Tart body flying through space has over 183 million views on YouTube.

“Very Angry Cat” – A classic viral video from 2007 of a cat making strange noises while staring into a toilet has over 31 million views.

“Surprised Kitty (Original)” – This shocked cat staring at its owner with huge eyes has amused viewers over 41 million times.

“That Little Puff” – A ragdoll cat named Puff has accrued over 7.5 billion views across various viral videos on his YouTube channel.

Other popular cat videos that have gone viral over the years include keyboard cat, Lil Bub, Maru the cat, and endless funny or cute cat compilation videos.


Overall, videos can be a fun and stimulating form of enrichment for cats when used appropriately. The key is moderation – limiting viewing time, monitoring for overstimulation, and pairing videos with other activities. While videos should not replace important needs like playtime and social interaction with humans, they can provide cognitive stimulation between other forms of enrichment. Videos with prey, birds, toys, and other felines can capture a cat’s interest and entertain them. However, you know your cat best, so gauge their individual interest and set reasonable boundaries around viewing. As with any enrichment, ensure videos are used as a supplement and not a replacement for a well-rounded lifestyle. Continue monitoring your cat’s reactions, and adjust their viewing time or content type as needed. With a thoughtful and moderate approach, videos can be an engaging experience for your favorite feline.

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