Whether turning up inside the kitchen cupboards or lounging on top of your door like a tiny panther, cats seem to like to be in places that make you wonder just how they managed to get there. Some of these spots make sense, like inside your dryer on top of your clean clothes, which is a warm, comfy spot to nap. However, some of their other favorite spots leave us stumped, like on top of your computer tower or on your new TV.
So, why does my cat climb the TV? The most likely reason is because the TV is often the center of your attention, it’s warm, and it’s elevated. For a cat, all of these factors make your TV the perfect place to hang out.
As you read on, you’ll learn more about why your cat craves warmth so much, why your TV seems to have become their extra expensive cat tree, and what you can do to protect both your cat and your electronics.
Happy and Warm
You have no doubt seen your cat lying in a sunny spot, completely relaxed and happy on the floor, or on a windowsill. It may seem a little strange that your cat likes warmth so much, especially since they have thick fluffy fur—you would think that they would get overheated and would avoid direct sunlight.
However, the reality is that cats can get chilled quite easily, despite their extravagant coats. Housecats like yours originated in hot desert climates in northern Africa, and so are well-equipped to deal with hot days and chilly nights.
Their fur is fluffy, but less insulating, which allows excess heat to escape more easily. This means that cats can maintain their body temperature in both hot and cold weather, but that consistent cold can be troubling for them.
This feature of cat’s fur is part of why most cats hate being wet, as it makes them feel chilled. Therefore, cats like to lay in the sun because the heat is instinctually familiar to them, and it makes them happy and comfortable.
Whether it’s the sun through the window, an open heat vent, your lap on a chilly day, or your TV, heat is essential to your cat. It makes them feel happier and more relaxed.
Cats and Electronics
Aside from your TV, you might have also noticed that your cat is drawn to electronics of all sorts, like your laptop or your stereo. You may have heard a variety of theories about this, everything from somewhat far-fetched ideas about how your cat likes the hum of electronics, to more plausible suggestions that your cat is looking for attention.
The real reason your cat seems to love technology is a combination of attention-seeking and again, their love for warmth. You’ve likely felt your laptop get warm if you’ve been using it for awhile, and your cat has noticed the same thing. Keyboards are, to your pet, the perfect cat-sized shelf to sit.
Not only this, but it is very close to you, and seems to be the center of your attention. Therefore to your cat, climbing up and planting themselves squarely on your keyboard is a great way to be warm and also to attract your notice.
This same logic applies to the TV, with the added bonus that it is up off the ground. From your cat’s perspective, the top of your TV is the ideal place to hang out because they not only have a better view of their surroundings when they’re high up, but they’re also warm, and you can’t help but notice them up there.
Training and Discouragement
Having a cat on top of your television may not bother you, but it’s probably not a good idea to encourage this behavior. The television itself is not going to hurt your cat, but your TV is not designed to be a jungle gym, and if your cat jumps onto or off of it, the impact could knock your TV over, possibly hurting your cat and definitely damaging the television itself.
Obviously, it’s best to avoid this, and to discourage your cat from treating your TV like a cat tree or a bed. There are a variety of things you can do to discourage your cat from using your TV as a hangout:
– Anti-cat sprays: your cat has a very sensitive nose, and so certain smells are repellant to them. Scents like pepper, citrus, lavender, and rosemary can serve as natural deterrents to cats. Spritzing these smells around your TV, or setting out packets soaked in these smells on the TV stand can help discourage your cat from hanging out there.
– Prickle strips: prickle strips are plastic mats that are covered with little pointy ‘thorns’ which make them very uncomfortable for your cat to walk on. Trimming them to size and taping them onto the top of the TV stand and along the top edge of your television itself makes these surfaces far less appealing to your cat.
They may not be very pretty to look at, but it may be that after enough time, your cat will avoid the TV even without the prickle strips in place.
– Double-sided tape: Laying strips of double-sided sticky tape down over the top of the TV stand and on the top of your TV is a slightly less visually obvious way to create a cat-unfriendly surface.
The stickiness of the tape is unpleasant to cats, and after one encounter with it, your cat will be very reluctant to walk on it again. However, the tape will have to be changed out if it gets dusty or it will lose its effectiveness.
– Aluminum foil: crumpled strips or sheets of aluminum foil will often work in a similar way to the double sided tape, but some cats actually enjoy chewing on foil, or don’t mind its texture as much as they mind tape or prickle strips, so this option’s effectiveness will depend on your cat. If your cat does seem to enjoy the foil, remove it to avoid your cat accidentally hurting itself with the foil’s sharp edges.
Whichever option you choose, remember to observe your cat while these items are in place, in case your cat has an extreme reaction to them and accidentally knocks your TV while jumping away, or gets sick as a result of either stress or contact with a strange substance.
Safety is always the most important part of training your cat, and having you there will make sure that the end result is a happy one.
If your cat isn’t so much interested in sitting on your TV as it is interested in attacking your television head on, this is likely because your cat has noticed the fact that there appears to be things moving inside the TV, and it’s extremely interested in ‘hunting’ them.
All cats have a prey drive, or innate reflex to chase small moving things, and if you have a cat who’s prey drive is extremely active, it will take more notice of things like screens. It sees the show you’re watching and instinctively reacts by trying to chase the characters on the screen.
If your cat does this even when the TV is off, it may be seeing its reflection in the dark screen and is reacting in a hostile manner to this ‘strange’ cat. This may be funny at first, but can quickly become annoying.
In this case, it’s best to either remove your cat from the room when you’re watching TV, or keep a spray bottle on hand to discourage your cat by squirting them with water before they leap—but be careful not to spray your TV directly!
With persistent negative outcomes to their behavior, your cat will eventually learn that jumping at the TV screen is unacceptable, and will leave it alone. It will likely take some time, but the end result is worth it.
Cats are acrobatic creatures that can entertain us with their antics, but occasionally their desire to be on top of or inside of everything they possibly can fit onto or into can be troublesome and hard to discourage.
Your cat’s inclination to perch on top of your TV might be cute at first, but it is also a bit inconvenient, and can be potentially hazardous to your cat, as well as not ideal for your TV itself. Teaching your cat that the TV is not just another cat bed is important, because it will ensure that both your cat, your electronics, and your wallet remain unscathed.
A few spritzes with a spray bottle may be enough to teach your cat that the TV is off-limits, but if your cat is more persistent or if you are not able to watch your cat at all times, laying out tape or prickle strips on and near the TV may be the better option.
Regardless, setting boundaries for your cat is an important part of being a good pet owner, no matter how mean you might feel doing it. With a little tough love, you and your cat will be back to living a happy, and much safer, life.