Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


Science has proven that watching cat videos online is good for you. A 2015 study conducted at Indiana University Bloomington found that viewing cat videos boosts energy and positive emotions. But is the same true for our cats?

Video games for cats

Videos showing birds and rodents have been around for a long time, but the explosion of apps specifically designed for cats have raised the question among cat parents and feline behaviorists whether all this screen time may be detrimental to cats’ well being. These apps designed to stimulate cats’ hunting instinct may be cute to the human observer, but I can’t help but think that batting at virtual prey moving across a screen is mostly frustrating for our feline friends.

Mikel Delgado, PhD,  a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds, offering on-site consultations for cat guardians, shelters, and pet-related businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area and remote consultations around the world, agrees with me. “They’re not getting any tactile experience; they’re not getting any smell; they’re not getting any movement sense with their whiskers,” she told Experience Magazine. Like Mikel, I worry  that these apps could confuse and frustrate cats. “It might be violating some sort of property of physics or nature that the cat might expect.”

Ruby occasionally played the Cat Fishing iPad game, but Allegra shows very little interest in screens. None of my cats have ever cared much about videos featuring birds, preferring the real thing outside the windows.

A poor substitute for real playtime

My biggest concern with video games for cats is that they will be used as a poor substitute for real playtime. Not only do these games not satisfy cats’ hunting instinct, they also take away one of the most important aspects of playtime, which is the interaction between cat and human.

Do your cats show any interest in digital games?

Photo by Kanashi on Unsplash

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5 Comments on Cats and Screen Time: High Tech Playtime, or a Bad Idea?

  1. Not even a tiny bit of interest in video games. I was hoping because Aki-our almost 7 year old Oriental Shorthair loves to watch nature programs on TV, and enjoys Dr.JeffDvm shows. I tried two games and used my iPad and he looked at me with one of these “who are you kidding?” facial expressions.

  2. Cody used to love them (and he loved watching bird videos online), can’t remember if I ever showed Roary anything electronically, if I do, it’s a supplement to real play

  3. Merlin was temporarily entertained with the fish and mouse games then flipped the ipad to look underneath it. He would occasionally play for a short time. He preferred to sit and “engage in” video games I was playing. We tried a treat toy once and he pushed it to the top of the stairs, then pushed it down so it popped open.
    Amelie sometimes likes the fishing and mouse games on the ipad but since Merlin passed, she has taken to sitting on a cat tree, and watching TV with me in the evenings. She really likes the Cirque du Soleil ads but seems to enjoy BBC.
    Perhaps we underestimate them.

  4. When I first heard of the cat game apps, I tried them. Mine seemed interested in it for about 5 minutes and then walked away.

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