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Got bored pets? There’s an app for that!

Lisa Iscrupe

Oct 11, 2020 — 3 min read

Apps and TV for cats and dogs are here. But should you let your furry friends imbibe? Here’s the pros and cons of screen time for pets.

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TV for dogs. Apps for cats. Have you seen the cute YouTube videos or Instagram posts of our furry friends being as mesmerized by the internet as we are? In recent years, interactive TV and internet content for dogs and cats has been on the rise. But other than for our human amusement, is there a purpose for creating a digital environment for pets? 

How cats and dogs can use the internet

If this phenomenon is new to you, take a quick look at the entertainment that is currently available for cats and dogs. Cat apps generally involve cats trying to “catch” something on screen, such as a moving fish or mouse target.

While apps for cats are more centered around the animal directly engaging with the app (with no human required), dog apps are typically aimed at humans interacting with their pups to play or train.

Popular apps for cats and dogs

Why some animals engage with screens and others don’t

Not all pets will care about watching things on screens. According to IHeartDogs, “Whether or not dogs show interest in the TV comes down to their individual personalities and breed mixes.” 

For example, “Hounds are scent-driven and less likely to care above moving pictures. Herding dogs, on the other hand, are more likely to show interest in the action on the set because they are bred to watch for subtle movements.”

How do dogs and cats see TV and tablet screens?

Both cats and dogs perceive colors differently than us humans, and differently from each other as well. 

  • According to VCA Hospitals, “Dogs possess only two types of cones and can only discern blue and yellow – this limited color perception is called dichromatic vision.” The result — they can see the TV, but it appears very blurry. 
  • Cats’ eyes, however, “are made up of two kinds of receptors – rods and cones, and cones are the type that process color. Cats have two types of cones to see colors,” according to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation. Because of this, cats can see blues fairly well, which is why they can be drawn to smartphones and tablets that emit blue light.

Is using the internet or watching TV good for animals?

Although there are no extensive studies on how much screen time is okay for Fido and Felix, research generally suggests that some internet and TV use is fine for pets. Plus, since animals tend to get bored with technology faster than we do, there’s little chance your pet will start binge watching TV. 

Screens generally ok for dogs and cats

According to Rover.com, TV for dogs can be “a potential source of comfort and entertainment while you’re away. “Dogs get lonely and bored,” which can “lead to destructive behavior.” So, if your furry best friend suffers separation anxiety, tuning into DogTV could reduce their stress. 

As for our kitty companions, “A study of shelter cats exposed to TV found that some felines without access to windows might benefit from having a TV as a possible form of enrichment,” according to Vetstreet. That said, if it’s possible to have a perch to view the outside world, your cat likely prefers observing real-life over a screen. 

What to watch out for

There are a couple of factors to consider when giving your pet screen time. Not all content is beneficial, and some animals can have adverse reactions to digital technology. Here’s what to look out for.

  • For dogs, make sure what they watch isn’t too noisy. Dogs like seeing other dogs, but just like in real life, hearing other dogs barking may agitate your pup. So, make sure any online or TV content has a calming soundtrack, or put it on mute. 
  • Similarly, cats can get overstimulated by “virtual” prey, so watch out for cats that are a little too “into” their app or program. The last thing you want is kitty head-butting your tablet too forcefully or knocking over your flat-screen. 
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Lisa Iscrupe

Written by:

Lisa Iscrupe

Writer, Broadband & Data Content

Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content

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