Can Pets Become Addicted to TV?
I think my cat is addicted to TV. I started
leaving the TV on when I left to go to school or
work, so he would have some background noise and
human voices to listen to, in hopes he wouldn't
feel so lonely (he's not your typical independent
cat and quite enjoys human companionship). Now
whenever the TV is on, he leaps up on the ottoman
(he thinks it's HIS couch), gets all snuggled up
and intently watches TV for hours. My friends and
family find humor in the fact that he's become so
humanized. I am concerned, as studies suggest that
children who watch TV before the age of 2 progress
more slowly and may develop behavioral issues when
older. I'm sure there haven't been many studies
on cats that watch too much TV, but I was hoping
you might have an opinion on the matter. Thank
Cats and dogs rarely become addicted to television. This is because they lack thumbs and generally cannot work remote controls.
Does television stunt the development of cats and dogs? I'm not aware of a scientific study on the matter, but I sincerely doubt it.
In fact, I have rarely seen animals express much interest in television. So, when the kind folks at Off the Wall Entertainment sent me At Home Doggy Daycare and At Home Kittycat Daycare, both on DVD, I was skeptical. The DVDs are designed to have visual and auditory content that is stimulating to and interesting for pets.
Since I am, sadly, between cats at this time, I watched Kittycat Daycare by myself. It was quite entertaining. Features include kittens playing soccer as well as visuals of squirrels frolicking, fish swimming, and birds flitting about.
Doggy Daycare has similar features tailored, theoretically, to the needs of dogs. For this DVD I decided to perform a non-controlled, non-randomized, non-blinded study with an n of one and publish the results in a non-peer-reviewed venue (my blog). I called my pal Buster into the living room and put on the DVD.
Up to this point, I should point out, Buster had never shown any interest whatsoever in television. We're talking about a dog who will sit through Barry Lyndon, Walk The Line, The Matrix, and The Big Lebowski as if nothing is happening.
Buster loved the DVD. He paid rapt attention to the video from the instant it started. When the soundtrack featured a squeaky toy Buster ran to the speaker. For a moment I thought he might try to use my new sound system as a chew toy. Fortunately he did not.
Buster whined during the scene featuring a dozen dogs frolicking together in a play area. I think he was sad to be left out of the fun.
A harrowing moment occurred during the scene entitled "Nutty Neighbors". Buster nearly knocked over the television trying to chase the star of the scene (who happened to be a squirrel).
It's a good thing Buster doesn't have thumbs. If he did, he'd be at risk for addiction to At Home Doggy Daycare.
Photo: Mia Lily participates in America's number one pastime.