When Kitty Goes Digital

As always with my cats, things happen unexpectedly and whatever discoveries I make about their personality or behaviour it is purely accidental. More than once have I wished I could have raised them both from the beginning, but I am grateful for the short time we have had together thus far and the joy they bring each day.

We all know the old cliche, it’s the little things that matter the most. Well, in the case of Lolita and Cherry, it is the little gestures they make that are loud expressions of love and affection, gratitude, and more often than not, complaint about the slacking service. Cats are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Any digression thereof will confuse or rattle them, especially Lolita with her feline dementia. Cherry takes things more in stride and can be far more flexible. With all the time spent at home last year and this month thus far, we have developed a routine that is viable for the two grannies, and that usually includes an afternoon snack (milk for them coffee for me), followed by dinner before they settle down in their respective corners to listen to whatever movie or series I watch. Lolita will turn her head towards the sounds and it always seems as though she is watching, but three minutes into the show there will be a loud snoring coming from her corner.

This all changed last night. When I took up my usual spot on the sofa, Lolita sat next to me and peered curiously into the screen. On a hunch, I called up one of the many videos on YouTube designed for cats. My former cats Mulan (India) and Champagne took a keen interest in them for a while, each with their individual preference. Mulan, for example, preferred the live aquarium video, perhaps because we had an actual aquarium in the house at the time, and Champagne liked the bird videos better. Neither of them were keen on the mice or squirrel options. Sounds bizarre even just writing about it… in any case, I called up the basic bird video for Lolita and ended up having to surrender my laptop to her for at least 20 minutes! (don’t worry, the video that follows below is only 52 sec)

Video by Maike Herzog

I’ve written before about how I try to stimulate Lolita’s mind through opera. Although this has proven to be very effective in providing her a few moments of lucidity, it has a very soothing effect and she will eventually fall asleep again. I wasn’t prepared for the dramatic effect a simple video would have on her and I asked myself why I never tried it earlier.

It was endearing, fascinating and highly entertaining to watch this old cat come to life in a manner that I have never seen her before. At some point she jumped down and walked around the little table, inspecting the laptop and even standing on her hind feet like a mini meerkat to investigate where the darn digital birds keep flying off to. Having failed to find the live birds, she returned to the screen and was enthralled with the continuing saga of forest birds eating birdseed. And here we humans are grumbling about nothing to watch on Netflix anymore! At some point I wanted my laptop back but madam wasn’t ready to give up her birdynovela. The next best thing was to offer her my iPad, which is a much smaller screen and if she knocked that down, there would be zero damage. She accepted that, and quickly found out that she could “kiss” the birds on the screen this way, or even try to pet them.

Catflix anyone? ©FrogDiva Photography

Encouraged by the effects of the video on Lolita, I decided to try the same thing on Cherry, knowing how much more of a skeptic she is, and incredibly judgmental of whatever Lolita does or gets into. She doesn’t always go along, but she is never far away either, “just in case there might be something good in it for me” – typical cat. Once Lolita retired for the night, I placed the iPad in front of Cherry and restarted the video. She quickly understood that these flat 2D chirpers were not the usual birds she catches on the balcony, and it took her a grand three minutes to accept and understand that this was entertainment and not sport. I don’t think the battery of my iPad was ever drained so quickly!

Chilling on YouTube ©FrogDiva Photography

By the time I finally settled down for the evening to watch my program, I had two curious cats hovering beside me peering into the screen. They were most disappointed when I called up Wonder Woman instead!

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