Do dogs and cats see the same thing as us when they watch television?

Many times you will have caught your dog or cat looking at the TV showing a similar interest to yours for the latest Netflix series. At that moment a certain illusion overwhelms us because maybe he is also attentive to the plot, After all, they spend so much time by our side that it would not be strange to also infect them with the pleasure of the series.

However, it has been shown in various studies that dogs and cats do not perceive television and other screens as we do. This has to do with several issues, among which its color perception (as they see the colors), their spatial perception (as they capture the movement) and their attention instincts (what are you interested in).

Dogs like Netflix more than cats

Maybe it’s quite common for your dog to curl up next to you and look where you’re looking, a series on TV. He does it like act of imitation, if you spend hours looking forward on the sofa: it will be for something. From a behavioral point of view, the dog adapts to your lifestyle, even to this. However, she does not understand anything. Looking ahead is largely influenced by the design and layout of the sofa, chair or bed: they encourage you to look ahead, and if what’s there is a TV, the dog will look at it. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most realistic.

Before explaining what dogs see and what they understand when they watch a television, we should stop to understand how television and cinema work, which are possible because they show a series of fast images per second: between 24 and 60 frames. Like the most primary cartoons, that’s how video works, all those images put one after the other at high speed give us the feeling that we are seeing objects and people in motion, but not a real move but they create that illusion.

Any film that goes at less than 24 images per second will seem slowed down, it will not give us the sensation that it is in movement, but that it is a succession of photos in fits and starts. For this reason, at a given moment in the history of cinema, the minimum number of frames with which films could be composed was 24. And when they have been raised, it has been to generate an even greater perception of reality, up to 60 fps that 4K now counts in the most advanced home televisions.

Read more: What is the vision of cats?

However, it has been determined that dogs do not perceive continuity in the image up to the amount of 70 images per second, and even then it is an unfluid amount for them. In other words, when your dog watches TV, what he is really seeing is a succession of images, gradual, slow and without apparent movement. Because his visual perception is not prepared for 24-60 frames, but needs more than 70. For him, TV is a big frame with photos.

A study published in 2013, the result of research at the veterinary faculties of the University of Paris and the University of Lyon, determined that dogs attended to patients to a greater extent. video game because these have a rate of images much higher than cinema and television. And that, furthermore, the dogs were capable of demonstrating royal attention about videos in which other dogs appeared, and even recognize them. However, the attention rate of cats is much lower, almost negligible.

In addition, your dog or cat’s perception of colors is very different from yours. we are able to see three shades (red, green and blue), but they just mix two (yellow and blue), so the vision of a dog is unable to perceive green and red and this greatly limits its perception of television, since the composition of the color of a screen is made by a color mixing system called RGB, which results from the mixture of red, green and blue.

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Cats don’t like TV?

The physiological and perception conditions of dogs and cats are very similar, however there is an added condition to cats that makes them even more reluctant to be enraptured by screens: your instinct. really for them hunting is paramount and moves their lives even if they have little to do at home. Television brings them absolutely nothing, because it is a mere decorative frame, immobile and without any interest.

According to a 2008 study, published in Applied Animal Behavior Science, the visual activity of 125 cats in a space with a screen, and it was shown that after analyzing their behavior for three hours a day, the cats looked at the television on average 6.1% of the time, and they only did it with some interest when possible prey appeared on the screen: birds and mice, mainly. But they lost attention as soon as the movement revealed that they were not real.

The image does not interest them, and the sound?

It has been shown that dogs and cats can be more interested in sound than in image, especially when they are recognizable to them. In the same way, the frequencies with which television broadcasts are not the same as those of reality. It must have happened to you, you know distinguish when a real person is speaking at home and when it is on television, no matter how good a sound system there is in the home, both sound experiences are different, and pets know it.

In the case of dogs, it is more common for them to react to “calling” sounds, such as other dog barks or sirens. In fact, the sound design of police, fire and ambulance sirens are stylized replicas of screams, since it was determined that they appeal to our most primary perception when it comes to attending to that indication, and the frequency in which they work on television is similar to the real one. Similarly, dogs understand alarms, and it is not entirely strange to see them react to a siren, be it real or on TV. Now, cats have better things to do, they seek stronger emotions than watching TV: they aspire to find real prey.

Read more: Do you know how your dog sees the world?