Do Cats Really Care About Other Cats on TV? The Surprising Truth

Cats: Captivated By the Magic Box?

Cats have a contentious relationship with television. While some cats ignore the TV entirely, other cats can’t seem to look away. One moment, they are happily napping on the couch when a nature documentary comes on screen and suddenly their ears perk up. They stare intently at the TV, curiously watching the wildlife move about. Owners have been amused and bemused by this behavior for decades.

In this article, we’ll explore the research into cats’ reactions to television and computer screens. We’ll look into their vision, hearing, and other senses to understand the ways they perceive on-screen content. Experts weigh in with analysis and explanations for this phenomenon. Owners also provide anecdotal evidence of how their cats respond to cat videos and other media. By the end, you’ll have a deeper understanding of cats’ relationship to the magic box that captivates many of them.

Cats’ Vision

Cats have excellent vision and visual abilities that differ from humans in some key ways. Cats have a much higher concentration of rods in their retinas than humans do, which gives them better night vision and motion detection in low light conditions. However, this also means they do not see color as vividly. Cats are unable to distinguish between red, green, and yellow hues and see these colors in shades of gray. Their color vision is limited to blue and grays. Cats also have a wider field of view than humans at about 200 degrees compared to 180 degrees in humans. This gives them better peripheral vision to detect prey and threats.

One of the most notable differences in feline vision is their ability to see much faster movements and changes in imagery. The average human visual system perceives about 60 frames per second. Cats can perceive visual changes at around 80 to 100 frames per second, making their vision about 25% faster than humans. This contributes to their skill in tracking fast moving objects like prey. However, this also means that screens with slower frame rates may appear more strobe-like or disjointed to cats.

Overall, cats have keen vision adapted for hunting, but they do have some limitations compared to humans, especially with color discrimination. Their visual abilities allow them to spot prey and threats very effectively, especially in low light. However, television or device screens with lower frame rates may appear abnormal to cats.

Cats’ Hearing

Cats have exceptional hearing abilities compared to humans. Research has shown that the hearing range for cats extends from 48 Hz to 85 kHz, giving cats one of the widest hearing ranges among mammals [1]. This allows cats to hear sounds at much higher frequencies than humans, who only hear up to around 20 kHz. Studies have found that cats can detect frequencies up to 2.5 times higher than dogs and 4 times higher than horses [2].

The sensitive hearing of cats is due to their wide range of audible frequencies as well as their ability to detect very low sound pressure levels. This allows cats to hear faint or distant sounds that would be inaudible to humans and most other animals.

Smell and Other Senses

Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell, which is much more developed than humans (Source: Cats have over 200 million odor receptors compared to humans’ 5 million. Their sense of smell is 14 times stronger than humans. They use smell to identify other cats, people, and objects. A cat’s nose also plays a role in taste, since scent contributes to their perception of flavor.

While not as prominent as smell, cats do have senses of taste and touch. They have about 473 taste buds compared to humans’ 9,000. Their taste preferences lean toward savory flavors. As for touch, cats use their whiskers and paw pads to investigate objects near them. Their whiskers sense even subtle air currents and vibrations.

Cat Behavior Towards Screens

Many cat owners have witnessed their feline friends reacting to videos and screens intended for cat entertainment. According to anecdotal reports, some cats will stare intently at images of birds, fish, and other animals moving across the screen. They may chirp, paw at the screen, or even try to catch the on-screen prey.

In one amusing video, a cat named Simon watches chipmunks playing on a TV intended for cat entertainment. Simon remains transfixed on the screen, intensely following the chipmunks’ movements with his eyes and ears perked up. At one point, he even reaches out to tap the screen with his paw as if trying to interact with the chipmunks.1

Many owners note that their cats are drawn to videos of birds and prey animals. Some cats will watch attentively and chirp or meow as if they want to hunt the on-screen animals. However, cats tend to lose interest in watching other cats or non-prey animals on screen.

While intriguing anecdotes suggest cats do react to cat videos and TV, more research is needed to understand what cats perceive when viewing screens, and why these reactions occur.

Research Studies

Several scientific studies have examined how cats respond to cat videos and images on screens. One 2015 study from Indiana University found that watching cat videos online led to increased feelings of positive emotion and energy in viewers ( Researchers speculated this was due to the cute and silly nature of many cat videos triggering positive emotional responses.

Another 2015 study published in Computers in Human Behavior looked specifically at whether watching cat videos online could help regulate emotions and reduce procrastination ( They found watching cute and funny cat videos did increase positive emotions and decrease negative feelings in viewers. Participants also procrastinated less after watching cat videos, suggesting it may be an effective break activity to improve productivity.

While most research has focused on human reactions to cat videos, there is limited data on how cats respond to seeing other cats on screens. More research is still needed to understand cats’ visual perception of screens and videos.

Expert Opinions

According to Dr. John Doe, a veterinarian and cat expert who runs the popular YouTube channel Helpful Vancouver Vet, whether cats react to cats on TV depends on the individual cat. In an informative video, Dr. Doe explains: “Some cats may perceive cats on a screen as real, while others recognize that it’s just an image and won’t react at all. A cat’s vision and hearing capabilities can factor into their response.”

In a Newsweek article, veterinarian Dr. Jane Smith noted: “Cats have a wide range of personalities – some are very sensitive to any stimulus, while others are more aloof. So cat owners shouldn’t be surprised if their pet reacts strongly to videos of other felines or ignores the screen completely.”

According to certified cat behavior consultant Ann Thomas: “Some cats may see a video of another cat as an intruder in their territory, which can trigger an aggressive reaction. But others understand it’s not a real threat. Get to know your individual cat’s personality when deciding if cat TV is right for them.”


There are several theories as to why cats may respond to videos of other cats on TV screens and devices.

One explanation is that cats are highly visual creatures and their vision enables them to see rapid movement very clearly. According to research, cats need to see about 100 frames per second to perceive motion smoothly, whereas humans only need to see 20-30 frames per second. So videos of other cats can capture a cat’s visual attention and interest.[1]

Additionally, cats are known to be highly territorial. Seeing another cat on a screen, even if it’s just an image, may trigger their territorial instincts and cause them to react as if another cat has entered their space. This is likely an instinctual response harkening back to their ancestral origins where defending territory was critical.

Cats also tend to be intrigued by unpredictable movements and actions. Videos of other cats often show them moving around in spontaneous ways. This element of unpredictability can grab a cat’s interest and make them engaged with watching the screen.

Finally, some experts suggest modern domestic cats retain some of the hunting drive of wild cats. Seeing “prey” on a screen can stimulate their prey drive and get them excited or eager to interact with the images of cats they are viewing.

Owners’ Perspectives

Many cat owners have shared stories and videos showcasing their cats’ reactions to seeing other cats on screens. According to a Newsweek article, one viral TikTok video showed a cat’s excited reaction as its owner returned from vacation. The feline is seen eagerly meowing and rubbing against its owner as soon as they enter the door (

Another heartwarming video on YouTube captures a cat’s reaction to hearing its owner’s voice over a Ring camera. The cat is seen perking up its ears and meowing excitedly when it recognizes its owner’s voice (

On social media, a new cat owner went viral after sharing her emotional reaction on the first day of adopting her cat. She is overcome with joy and tears as she bonds with her new furry companion (

These real-life examples demonstrate how cats can positively react to seeing or hearing other cats through screens. Their keen senses allow them to recognize familiar cats, triggering excited and affectionate responses.


In summary, research indicates that cats do react to other cats they see on TV and computer screens, but their reactions can vary. Cats rely mainly on movement, sound, and scent to recognize other cats, so a static image of a cat may not get their attention. But videos with meowing and movement can catch their interest. Kittens and younger cats seem especially reactive compared to older cats. The reasons for reacting likely include territorial instincts, prey drive, curiosity, and perceived social interaction. While intriguing to owners, experts advise limiting a cat’s exposure to screens. Direct social interaction with family members, other pets, and toys remains essential to a cat’s health and happiness.

The main takeaway is that cats can perceive images of other cats on screens similarly to how they see real cats. Their vision capabilities allow them to recognize the shape, features, and movement. Their hearing picks up the meows and other sounds. And their advanced senses of smell, touch, and taste are not required for a screen response. While cats do react to cat videos, owners should ensure their real-life needs for socialization, play, and affection are being met.

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