Dogs and Cats Haven’t Always Been Able To Watch TV

We’ve all seen the YouTube videos of dogs and cats watching and reacting to television, but what do they really see? The truth is, our pets probably see high resolution TV screens as well as they see the world in general. Before high resolutions screens were available, about all they saw was a flickering screen. Modern TV sets generate more frames per second, which allows dogs and cats to perceive pictures as film, just like we do. New TVs are much smoother than old TVs, which could only produce up to 50 new frames a second. Animals vary with regard to how many frames they need to see per second before it fools their eyes and brains into viewing it as a moving picture, rather than a flickering image on a screen. We humans need about 16-20 images a second to perceive what we see as continuous film, whereas dogs and cats need about 70 images per second. So, a few years ago, our pets were probably confounded by our behavior of sitting for hours staring at a flashing succession of images. If you have other pets, you need to think twice before placing them in front of the TV. Birds need at least 100 frames per second to see TV images as a moving picture, so having a lower frame rate will be very stressful for birds. It would be like putting us in a room with strobe lights.