Does my cat mind my smartphone, the TV and other devices?
“Alexa, what is my cat thinking when I talk to a speaker in my living room?”
With our homes becoming ‘smarter’ and more connected, you may be wondering what cats make of all the new technology around them. From smart speakers to robot vacuum cleaners, are they baffled by these strange devices, or are they just one more thing to disturb them from a peaceful snooze?
We asked our cat experts to delve into feline feelings on modern tech…
Unless you have your speaker’s volume set to incredibly loud, then your cat probably won’t take much notice of it. Cats’ sense of hearing is more fine-tuned towards hearing the noises of their prey (eg high pitched squeaking and rustling leaves) so unless Alexa is doing an impression of a mouse scampering through the grass, your cat will probably ignore her – much like they don’t understand when you tell them they’ve already had their dinner and no amount of meowing will get you to dish up another portion.
Again, volume is an important factor, as your cat is likely to be startled by a sudden loud blast of Ed Sheeran or Stormzy. However at a low volume, the radio could actually be quite calming for your cat, particularly when there are other loud noises, such as fireworks, going on around them. In these instances, try setting your cat up with a nice quiet room to hide in and put on soothing classical music or talk radio station to drown out the loud noises. Some cats will prefer not to have the radio on at all, but it’s worth experimenting to see if your moggy likes Mozart or the morning news.
Cats are very responsive to movement, so their favourite TV shows are those that feature lots of action. Sports, car chases and of course nature documentaries featuring other animals are all on their watch list, but to be honest even the Netflix loading circle would probably catch their eye. Of course, some cats won’t be bothered at all and will happily let you choose the channel while they have a snooze. If your moggy is a TV fan though, make sure the set is sturdy and secure in case they attempt to get involved in the action and bring it crashing down.
Georgie the telly addict cat
One cat who certainly is interested in the TV is Georgie, who is currently being cared for by Cats Protection’s Epsom, Ewell & District Branch.
11-year-old Georgie likes nothing better than to sit in front of the TV and especially loves quiz shows such as The Chase and wildlife programmes.
Georgie’s fosterer, Helen Fisher says: “Georgie does love her home entertainment, but it isn’t all about television. As well as her favourite programmes, she loves to have the radio on and sometimes a particular tune or instrument will catch her attention. Life is never dull with Georgie.”
If you would like to offer Georgie a home, and a sofa where she can watch the TV in peace, please get in touch with the branch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0345 260 1387.
As with TV, your cat will only really be interested in any movement on your phone screen. This could be problematic if you’re scrolling through Instagram, as they might reach out a playful paw and double tap on that photo of your ex from three years ago! There are in fact some apps designed for cats that show fish or mice moving around on the screen to grab their attention, but these could actually just be frustrating for your cat. Cats are happiest when they can actually catch their toys, so not being able to retrieve the fish from the screen is likely to only stress them out.
Robot vacuum cleaners
Different cats will have different reactions to vacuum cleaners. Some will run away from the loud noise, others will sleep through it or may even be curious about the strange machine. The important thing is to monitor their reaction and make sure they have somewhere to run away to if they do get scared. The problem with robot vacuums is that humans are not always around when the machine is running, so they cannot check if their cat is ok. Therefore, it’s best to check if your cat is calm around your robot vacuum during the first few uses, and if they are, keep it to a cleaning routine that your cat can get used to.
The best way to ensure your cat isn’t bothered by these modern technologies is to get them used to them when they are very young. Between the age of two to eight weeks old, kittens learn what is safe and normal in their world, so if they’ve been gently introduced to music, TV and vacuum cleaners during this period, they’ll be less likely to be afraid of them when they grow up.
To find out more about raising happy and confident kittens, take a look at our kitten socialisation advice on the Cats Protection website.