Cat TV for rescue cats at shelters to enrich their environment

Here’s a cool idea which I like a lot from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Lynnwood, USA. They installed a 47-inch flat panel TV facing the cages containing the cats at their rescue. The cats are held in a windowless room. What can cats do when they’re in a cage in a windowless room day in and day out? We know: they snooze, eat and occasionally watch what’s going on outside the cage. But chronic boredom and stress must be their enemy.

A cat watches TV at PAWS in Lynnwood. The animal rescue is seeking TV donations. Photo - Lynn Jefferson at PAWS
A cat watches TV at PAWS in Lynnwood. The animal rescue is seeking TV donations. Photo – Lynn Jefferson at PAWS
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

We all know that enriching the environment is important for domestic cat welfare particularly those cats who are captive inside their owner’s home. Clearly, the cats in the most un-enriched environments on the planet are those stuck in cages in animal rescue centres waiting to be adopted.

The enlightened web and graphic designer, Lynn Jefferson, at PAWS is on a mission to outfit every room in the shelter with a television. And the rescue’s animal behaviour specialist, Rachel Bird said that “The TV encourages the cats to listen and look around, and many cats will approach the front of their kennel to investigate, which helps to make them more visible to adopters.”

Jefferson found a 47-inch television for sale on Facebook or US$25. When she met the couple and explained the purpose of the television, they said that she could take it away free of charge.

At least nine televisions are needed and at the moment she has three including one that came from her home. She also said that:

“Immediately after turning on the TV mounted above the cat cages, cats could be seen in their cages watching the TV. The bird and nature sounds also bring a soothing peaceful atmosphere to the room while potential adopters walk through and interact with the cats. It’s a win-win situation for all.”

Interestingly, employees in nearby offices liked the sound of the birds because they found it soothing. The rescue is looking for donations to buy more televisions. Jefferson says that she can turn a $35 redundant flat panel TV into a “cat video cinema experience. All I need is a player, HDMI cable and the USB flash drive.”

She’s playing CDs of birds and wildlife through the TV monitor. That’s the way I read this. In this instance she is not picking up signals in the conventional way but simply using the TV as a screen. Although, there’s lots of available video content for cats from subscription services. For example, Pluto TV has a 24/7 cat channel which was launched in 2017. It’s the first channel by cats for cats, it is said. It also has a 24/7 dog channel.

There is also the Birder King YouTube channel which has videos of little critters which go on for eight hours. This allows workers to leave the television on while they go out. Also, there is the Cat Entertainment channel which has videos and cat games.

They have found that the cats’ favourite form of TV entertainment is birds flying in and out and squirrels doing their thing. At night the television is shut off so that they have a period of quiet to relax and sleep.

Cat watching television
Cat watching television at home. Photo in the public domain.

This novel programme is also an act of equality between cats and dogs. Dogs get to go outside to entertain themselves when they take breaks in the yard and go for walks. Cats don’t have equality of entertainment in their lives at shelters. Maybe this is one small reason why more cats are euthanised at shelters that dogs. They become bored and stress leading to suspect behaviour which is a barrier to adoption or worse: euthanasia.

If you would like to donate then please contact Jefferson at:


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