Couch Potato Pet – TV for Cats and Dogs?

Bouncing balls, birds and squirrels and flying Frisbees can all do wonders for capturing your pet’s attention. But what if these stimuli are on a TV screen?

DogTV, a subscription-based television channel made just for pets, offers a series of relaxing, stimulating, and even behavior-improving video segments for pets to watch from the comforts of home. The channel, launched in 2012, aims to provide distraction and entertainment for pets that tend to get into trouble when left home alone. At Morris Animal Inn, we play Critter TV in our luxury cat suites, where curious cats can watch birds hop around on the screen.
With all this modern technology going to the dogs (and cats!), we can’t help but wonder; do our pets really watch TV?

There is a range of opinions on the effectiveness of DogTV, as discussed on New York Times’ Well Pet blog. DogTV spokeswoman Bonnie Vieira explained that the show may serve as a calming tool. “For dogs who suffer from separation anxiety, DogTV is a tool that might help ease them, so maybe they’re not getting into trouble, and they’re happier, more relaxed, when you get home,” she said. 

The calming tool may be more for the humans than for the dogs, however, explained Dr. Ann E. Hohenhaus, a staff veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. “I think a lot of this is to make us feel better as opposed to making the pet happier,” she said, acknowledging that leaving DogTV on for a pet left at home alone may help give owners peace of mind that their dog will have something to do. 

Just like with humans, pets watching TV may be a simple matter of preference. Some dogs could enjoy watching television, while others might just not be interested. The chances of your pet tuning in are highest if the channel is played on a high-quality television and at the dog’s eye-level.
As for cats, a lot of our feline guests just can’t get enough of Critter TV. Watching becomes an interactive experience for the pets who swat at the screen to catch what they think are pesky birds.
What do you think? Could your furry friend be a Couch Potato Pet?