Is Cat TV Actually Good for Your Cat? Jackson Galaxy Weighs In


Cat TV refers to videos and programs designed specifically to provide visual stimulation and enrichment for cats. The concept involves screens playing footage of birds, mice, fish and other animals that trigger a cat’s natural hunting instincts and keep them engaged. Cat TV has become increasingly popular as a tool for pet parents to provide their indoor cats with mental stimulation and curb boredom-related behavior issues when they are home alone.

Jackson Galaxy is considered one of the leading experts on cat behavior and wellbeing. As host of the Animal Planet show My Cat from Hell, Jackson has decades of experience understanding the environmental, social and psychological needs of domestic cats. He frequently advocates for Cat TV as an enriching form of entertainment for cats, but emphasizes that it should always be used in moderation as part of a larger enrichment plan.

What is Cat TV?

Cat TV is a form of entertainment specifically designed for cats. It often consists of videos, DVDs, or television channels that feature stimulating content to capture cats’ interest. The programming usually shows videos of birds, mice, fish, squirrels, and other prey that cats are instinctively drawn towards watching and “hunting.” It can include nature scenes, aquariums, and even cat-friendly cartoons.

The goal of cat TV is to provide mental stimulation and entertainment for cats when their owners are away. It takes advantage of cats’ natural instincts to notice movement and “stalk” potential prey. By tapping into these instincts and providing appropriate visual content, cat TV aims to prevent boredom, reduce stress or anxiety, and give cats an activity that taps into their inner hunter. While not a substitute for actual playtime and interaction, it offers another enriching cat-friendly activity.

Jackson Galaxy’s Take on Cat TV

Jackson Galaxy, a well-known cat behaviorist, sees benefits in having a “Cat TV” set up for cats at home. According to Galaxy, watching the outside world is enriching for cats as it allows them to experience sights, sounds, and smells they find stimulating (Jackson Galaxy). He recommends making window spots enticing for cats with perches or cat trees so they are drawn there to watch Cat TV.

However, Galaxy cautions against relying solely on Cat TV for enrichment. While Cat TV provides mental stimulation, it does not fulfill a cat’s needs for physical activity or social interaction (Jackson Galaxy). He advises Cat TV should be just one part of a varied enrichment routine including playtime, bonding with humans, puzzle toys, and access to vertical space.

Overall, Jackson Galaxy sees Cat TV as a beneficial source of sensory stimulation for cats when combined with other forms of enrichment. But on its own, watching the outdoors is no substitute for a cat’s fundamental needs.

Mental Stimulation

Cat TV can provide important mental enrichment and exercise for cats. According to Jackson Galaxy, environmental stimulation is critical for a cat’s mental health and development. Watching prey and nature videos can tap into a cat’s natural hunting instincts and provide mental stimulation. The videos engage their attention, allow them to watch potential “prey”, and satisfy their curiosity in a safe indoor environment.

Jackson Galaxy notes that Cat TV reduces boredom and anxiety by providing an outlet for normal feline interests and behaviors. Indoor cats especially can benefit from having something active to watch throughout the day. The videos give their brains a workout as they focus intently on the TV screen. Just as humans can get mentally drained from boredom and inactivity, cats also need enrichment to stay energized and content.

By providing an engaging activity that captures their natural instincts, Cat TV gives cats’ minds a healthy workout. The mental stimulation can help prevent boredom-related behavior issues like aggression or destructive scratching. Varying the content keeps cats interested and maximizes the mental enrichment. Overall, Cat TV offers great mental exercise for cats when used alongside other stimulating activities.

Reducing Boredom and Anxiety

Cat TV can be an excellent tool for reducing undesirable behaviors that result from boredom and anxiety in cats. When cats are bored or anxious, they may exhibit problematic behaviors like aggression, excessive meowing, furniture scratching, litter box issues, or compulsive grooming (RelaxMyCat). Cat TV provides stimulating visual content to capture cats’ attention and engage their natural hunting instincts in a positive way.

The moving images and sounds on cat TV can reduce cats’ stress levels and prevent anxiety-induced issues like urine marking or aggression (Jackson Galaxy). By tapping into feline fascination with prey like birds, mice, and fish, cat TV gives them an activity to focus their energy on. This not only reduces undesirable behaviors, but also promotes a calmer and more relaxed state.

Leaving cat TV playing when you are away can minimize signs of separation anxiety like meowing, scratching, or destruction. The entertainment keeps cats engaged and distracted from stressors. Cat TV offers a healthy outlet for natural hunting behaviors and can help prevent boredom-based problems from developing.

Natural Instincts

Cats have a strong predatory instinct and desire to hunt that stems from their ancestry as solitary hunters (Purina). Even domesticated house cats retain these natural instincts and often engage in hunting behaviors like stalking, pouncing, and chasing prey. Cat TV aims to tap into this instinctual drive by providing stimulating content that mimics the movement of prey animals. The videos feature things like mice, fish, and birds that zig zag across the screen and allow cats to envision themselves as the hunter.

According to Jackson Galaxy, the moving images on Cat TV give cats an outlet to experience their natural “hunt, catch, kill, eat” sequence in the safety of home (Catster). This allows them to act on their hardwired needs and expend energy. Galaxy explains that Cat TV prevents boredom and anxiety that can arise when natural behaviors are suppressed. By virtually satisfying hunting drives, Cat TV provides cats with necessary mental stimulation.

Physical Activity

While watching TV provides mental stimulation, it does not provide physical activity and exercise that cats need. According to Is Cat TV Really Good For Cats?, lack of physical activity is one of the main drawbacks of cat TV. Cats are natural hunters and need activities that engage their predatory instincts. Without sufficient physical activity, cats may become frustrated, overweight, or develop behavioral issues. Jackson Galaxy recommends providing a variety of physically interactive cat toys in addition to cat TV for a balanced enrichment plan. Interactive play can provide exercise, relieve pent-up energy, and prevent obesity. Cat owners should aim to actively play with their cat for at least 15-30 minutes per day.

Human Interaction

While Cat TV can provide some entertainment for cats, it should not replace crucial human-cat playtime and bonding. Cats thrive on daily interaction, play, and affection from their human companions. Setting aside time for interactive play sessions using toys like wands, laser pointers, balls, and treat puzzles allows cats to get exercise while bonding with their owners.

Interactive play satisfies a cat’s natural predatory instincts in a safe, controlled way. And activities like brushing, petting, and lap time provide affection and social connection. Make sure to have at least two play sessions per day. Try to switch up toys and activities to keep your cat engaged and interested.

Dedicated human interaction and playtime helps prevent boredom, excess energy, and unwanted behaviors like aggression or inappropriate elimination. Just as importantly, it strengthens the bond between cat and human, leading to a happier, healthier pet-owner relationship.

Vary the Stimulation

While cat TV can provide valuable mental stimulation for cats, it’s important not to rely on it as the sole source of stimulation. Cat experts like Jackson Galaxy recommend varying the types of stimulation you provide to keep your cat engaged and prevent boredom.

It’s best to balance cat TV viewing with other enriching activities throughout the day. Provide regular play sessions with interactive cat toys to get your cat moving and engaging their natural hunting instincts. Rotate through different types of toys to keep them novel and exciting. Puzzles and treat dispensing toys also stimulate your cat’s mind and body.

Make sure your cat has places to climb, scratch, and perch throughout your home. Vertical space and different textures allow cats to exhibit natural scratching and climbing behaviors. Provide warming spots for relaxing near windows with outdoor views.

Don’t forget the power of human interaction as well. Interactive playtime, petting, and cuddling with human family members provides invaluable bonding, comfort, and stimulation for cats.

The key is providing a blend of enrichment and mixing up the types of stimulation. Rotate through playtime, naps, cat TV viewing, puzzle toys, human interaction, and more to keep your cat engaged and prevent boredom.

For specific recommendations on amounts and types of stimulation, check out this article from Two Crazy Cat Ladies.


In summary, cat TV can provide important mental stimulation and entertainment for cats when used properly as part of an enriched home environment. As Jackson Galaxy advises, cat TV alone is not enough – cats also need physical activity, human interaction, and a variety of enriching experiences. The key is to vary the types of stimulation and provide cat TV as one part of a cat’s routine. With a balance of exercise, play, environmental enrichment and watching cat TV, our feline friends can stay happy, healthy and mentally stimulated.

The bottom line is that cat TV should not be the only activity or entertainment provided. But when used responsibly and in moderation as part of an enriched lifestyle, cat TV can be a safe and rewarding experience for cats.

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