Animals and Television

Can animals watch television? And if so, what shows do they prefer?

The other day I sat down to watch a little bit of television when my roommate’s cat, Mitzy, decided to sit on my lap. Absentmindedly, I began to scratch her head. When I looked down, I noticed that she was staring right at the television screen. This made me wonder, is she really “watching” what was going on, or just staring at something? So I dug into some research to solve this mystery!

While it has not been determined if cats like Mitzy can actually watch what is on the television, we know that some dogs do! In fact, a channel has been launched that is exclusively for dog viewers! The BBC asked Stanley Coren, professor emeritus in the psychology department at the University of British Columbia, if dogs are watching flickers and shadows on TV, or can they actually see what’s happening. He reported that it depends on the TV and on the temperament of the pet. As for the TV, something called the “refresh rate” is a key factor that determines whether a dog can see images. The refresh rate is the speed at which an image is replaced by the next image on the screen. Pooches have a higher refresh rate than we do. Therefore, older televisions look to them more like the flickering of a flipbook of pictures. So it might not hold their interest. However, the newer television models have higher refresh rates, so your furry friend will actually see what is happening as one continuous motion—like we see it. Humans have a lower refresh rate than dogs, so we see shows as one continuous moving picture, no matter what the quality of the TV.

Another factor that plays into your pet’s watching television is where he sits relative to the TV. If the screen is not eye-level with your animal, chances are that it won’t be interested in what’s on the screen. This is why pets that are on the couch are more likely to watch the television.

Next time you are watching your favorite show, check out your pet. Is he enjoying your favorite show, too?

Do you think your pet watches television with you? Tell us about it in the comment section!

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