Do Cats Watch Cat Videos? The Truth Revealed


Can you picture a fluffy cat pawing at a smartphone or laptop? The internet is full of videos and gifs of our feline friends seemingly enthralled as they watch footage of birds, mice, other cats – even videos of themselves! But is it true that cats really do enjoy watching cat videos, or are they just staring blankly at a screen? In this article, we’ll explore the visual capabilities and psychology of cats to find out if they truly comprehend and enjoy watching cat videos.

Background on Cat Videos

Cat videos began growing in popularity in the mid-2000s with the rise of video sharing sites like YouTube. According to the BBC, the first viral cat video is considered to be the “Keyboard Cat” video from 1984, which was uploaded to YouTube in 2007 and quickly amassed millions of views (BBC, 2015). Other early viral cat videos included “Surprised Kitty” in 2007 and “Maru the Cat” videos beginning in 2008.

By 2013, cat videos had become so ubiquitous that the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis hosted a CatVidFest festival celebrating them. Today, cats dominate online video. There are over 2 million cat videos on YouTube with nearly 26 billion views, making “cats” one of the most searched terms (Treehugger, 2019). It’s estimated that new cat videos are uploaded at a rate of 12,000 per day. Clearly cats have secured their reign over the Internet thanks to humans’ obsession with sharing feline antics.

Cat Vision and Hearing

Cats have excellent vision and hearing capabilities that allow them to perceive motion on screens, although not the same as in real life. Their vision is adapted for detecting movement and hunting prey, with a wider field of view but lower visual acuity than humans. While cats can see most colors, their world appears more blue and green compared to humans due to differences in their retinal cones. Their area of greatest visual acuity, used for hunting, only covers about 5-10 degrees in the center of their field of view.

This means cats may detect motion on screens through their peripheral vision, but they can’t see fine details as clearly as humans can. Their distance vision also tops out at about 20 feet. So a cat watching a video sees the overall movement, shapes and some colors, but not sharp imagery. Their hearing extends across a wide frequency range, allowing cats to detect high-pitched sounds up to 2 octaves above humans. They can pinpoint the source of sounds very accurately. So cats readily detect the sounds coming from screens. However, their vision and hearing are innately tuned to real life 3D environments, not 2D screens.

According to Can Cats See Phone Screens? An Investigation into Feline Vision [url1], while cats can see motion on screens, their visual perception of screens differs substantially from humans due to differences in their retinal cone cells, area of visual acuity, and brain processing. Cats rely more on movement and sounds to interpret their environments rather than visual details and images.

Cat Psychology

Cats are naturally curious creatures who rely heavily on their senses to understand the world around them. They enjoy exploring new sights, sounds, smells and textures that stimulate their keen vision, hearing, and other senses (source: Cats also have a strong prey drive and enjoy stalking, chasing and pouncing on moving objects that resemble prey. According to cat behaviorist Carole Wilbourn, providing appropriate environmental stimulation and enrichment is crucial for a cat’s mental health and reduces stress and problem behaviors like aggression (source:

Many experts believe that cat videos can provide visual and auditory enrichment that appeals to feline senses and instincts. The movement and sounds of cats playing, pouncing and meowing on screen can serve as mental stimulation and entertainment, tapping into their natural curiosity and prey drive. Just as cats may be fascinated by fish tanks, bird feeders or toys with motion and noise, cat videos can capture their interest and engage their minds (source: Whether a short cat video can provide sufficient mental stimulation likely depends on the individual cat and other enrichment provided in its environment.

Anecdotal Evidence

There are many stories and examples shared of cats appearing interested in watching cat videos. Owners frequently describe their cats staring intently at screens playing cat videos, meowing or reacting to the videos, and even pawing at the screen.

As one example, in a popular TikTok video with over 17 million views, a ginger cat is shown closely watching a video compilation of other cats on a phone screen ( The cat’s eyes follow the movements of the cats on screen and their ears rotate to listen. Many owners in the comments share similar experiences of their own cats watching cat videos.

Cat owner perspectves provide useful anecdotal evidence. Many report that their cats are drawn to screens when cat videos are played, even if they ignore the screen at other times. Some notice their cats only paying attention to cat videos, but not other content. Owners describe amusement at their cats appearing to enjoy watching videos of fellow felines.

Scientific Research

In 2015, a study conducted by Indiana University Bloomington found that watching cat videos can boost people’s energy, positive emotions, and feelings of relaxation. The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior ( Researchers had study participants watch videos of both cats and other animals, and measured their mood, energy level, and general sense of wellbeing before and after viewing. Cat videos led to the most significant increases in positive measures.

Additional research has examined cats’ ability to recognize videos. A 2019 study published in Animal Cognition ( found that cats can discriminate videos of other cats from videos of other content. When shown cat videos, cats would move their ears and heads more, indicating greater interest and recognition. However, their responses were lower compared to real cats, suggesting limitations in connecting with 2D on-screen content.

Expert Analysis

Animal behavior experts have weighed in on why cats may enjoy watching cat videos. Jackson Galaxy, a renowned cat behaviorist and host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, has discussed this topic in several of his YouTube videos.

In one video titled “Do Cats Really Like Watching Cat Videos?”, Galaxy explains that cats are naturally drawn to movement and find observing other cats intriguing. He says cat videos can capture a cat’s attention since they feature cats moving around, meowing, or doing interesting cat activities. Galaxy also notes that each cat has unique preferences – some may be glued to cat videos, while others ignore them entirely.

Overall, Galaxy believes that cats do genuinely enjoy watching other cats in videos. As obligate carnivores evolved to hunt prey, their visual system is adept at detecting movement and their hearing can pick up high-pitched cat meows. Galaxy suggests cat videos allow house cats to observe natural cat behaviors they’d otherwise miss indoors. So while people may find cat videos entertaining too, they seem designed to pique feline interest.

Individual Differences

All cats are unique individuals with their own personalities and preferences. When it comes to enjoying cat videos, there are several factors that can influence a cat’s interest level:


Certain breeds like Siamese and Abyssinians are known for being vocal and energetic. They may be more stimulated by moving images and sounds than a more laidback breed like a Persian or Ragdoll.


Kittens and younger cats tend to be more playful and curious. Anecdotally, they seem more inclined to watch screens compared to older, more sedentary cats. However, senior cats may still take interest in familiar faces and sounds.


Extroverted and friendly cats may be more attracted to the social stimuli of cat videos, while timid cats may prefer to avoid the commotion of screens. A cat’s general level of playfulness, fearfulness, and activity can all influence their interest in videos.

The most accurate predictor is likely the individual cat’s personality and experience. While some cats will readily watch, play with, and react to cat videos, others will be completely indifferent. Understanding what captures each cat’s natural attention and curiosity is the best way to gauge their interest.


Based on the research and evidence presented, it seems that many cats do enjoy watching cat videos. Studies have shown that cats will orient towards and engage with videos of other cats, indicating interest and enjoyment. Anecdotal reports from cat owners also suggest that cats are often drawn to cat videos, will sit still and observe them intently, and may meow or try to interact with the screen.

However, experts note that cats likely don’t interpret these 2D videos the same way humans do. Their vision and psychology lead them to see the videos more as intriguing moving images or objects, rather than as representations of real cats. Additionally, there is individual variation in how interested cats are in cat videos based on factors like personality and environment.

While the evidence suggests that cats can gain visual stimulation, engagement and enjoyment from cat videos, more research is still needed to fully understand how they perceive these videos cognitively and emotionally compared to real-life social interactions with other cats. A definitive determination may not be possible since we cannot fully interpret the subjective experiences of cats. However, the information collected so far indicates that many cats do seem to exhibit curious and attentive behaviors when watching cat videos that suggest some level of interest and enjoyment.

Further Research

There are a few remaining questions when it comes to understanding if and why cats may enjoy watching cat videos. First, more research is needed to determine the exact sensory and psychological factors that influence a cat’s interest in cat videos. Scientists should conduct controlled experiments analyzing cat eye movements and brain activity while watching cat videos versus other content. This could reveal insights into which visual and auditory elements cats find most stimulating.

Additionally, long-term observational studies monitoring groups of cats exposed to cat videos could help determine if repeated viewing leads to boredom, continued interest, or other behavioral effects. Larger sample sizes across different breeds, ages, environments, and personality types could also show if certain cats are more inclined to watch cat videos.

Future studies could also compare reactions to different genres of cat videos, like those showing other cats playing vs. grooming vs. hunting. And experiments with videos of other animals may reveal if cats have a specific preference for feline content. Overall, more research is needed to fully understand why cats may enjoy watching cat videos designed for human entertainment.

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