Cat

I Can’t Give My Cat the Perfect Life. ‘TV for Cats’ Gives Her a Taste.

Search “TV for cats” and you’ll find hundreds of hourslong videos, shot in beautiful HD, of birds and other fauna at a feeder, or in the grass, darting in and out of frame for eight to 10 hours at a time. When I pressed play on the first video that I found (“My Garden Birds — Relaxing Nature Music for Cats to Sleep”), I wasn’t expecting much, perhaps a bird or two pecking at a pile of seeds followed by four hours of nothing. But the action on-screen immediately caught Daisy’s attention, as she parked herself on the floor in front of the TV, mouth agape, like a child inhaling episodes of “Paw Patrol.”

When a starling swooped in to investigate some seeds on a log, Daisy swatted at the TV, growling in frustration. With each new bird that arrived on-screen, she changed her approach, splaying herself flat on the floor and then pouncing in vain. After five minutes, she recognized this grift for what it was and returned to the chair where she spends most of her time. Nonetheless, I left YouTube on autoplay and would occasionally park myself on the sofa to watch.

Because I am not a cat, I felt no primal urges when watching the footage, but every time my sweet, round ward hefted herself onto the sofa next to me to shriek at her new friends, I wondered what they were really doing for her. It was clear that she knew these birds were two-dimensional, but when they showed up seemingly unbidden, she was always energized, even if briefly. Petting her solemnly one day in an attempt to penetrate her mind, it occurred to me that the TV birds were interesting simply because they were not me.

After the move, our worlds necessarily contracted. Daisy’s well-being is entirely my responsibility now; she depends on me for food, water, attention, conversation and general maintenance. For years I had assumed she’d be happier by herself, away from the oppressive thumb of her cat roommate, Crusty, a real charmer who took advantage of her tendency to eat slowly as an opportunity for seconds. But now I wondered if she missed her old life, with its petty kitty turf wars and loud, multiple humans. Boredom sometimes calcifies into loneliness, and for Daisy, the birds seemed to fix a problem I didn’t even know she had. It didn’t just give her prey to hiss at; it opened her world back up.

In the ideal version of my life, Daisy and I would live in a sprawling home with outdoor space. I’d lounge on a chair parked on a brick patio while Daisy would explore a patch of grass, capturing a small mouse between her tiny jaws and presenting the body to me with pride. Our essential natures do not change in this fantasy — we are still just two women coexisting in peace — but Daisy gets to live a little more.