Now when we leave for the day, we put the TV on for him and set it to YouTube channels that stream squirrels, birds, and other wildlife. He happily engages with nature on the screen, and we feel better knowing that he’s occupied. He even has a favorite channel (he recognizes the opening theme). Without further ado, these are a few channels that have sustained Alfred when my spouse and I dare to run errands or allow ourselves a date night.
8+ Hours of Birds, Squirrels, and Other Wildlife
The YouTube channel Birder King boasts more than 100,000 subscribers and—at the time of writing—147 eight-hour, high-definition videos of birds, squirrels, bunnies, and ducks cavorting with each other.
According to the creator’s About section, the inspiration is simple: “I love cats. I love birds. Cats love watching birds. I created this dedicated Cat TV channel for cats to watch. Cat-approved around the world.” The channel has been posting nature videos weekly since 2018.
Claims about cats’ seal of approval might seem overblown (particularly to those who believe that cats are incapable of joy), but the proof rests in the view count: Nearly all of the channel’s content approaches (or surpasses) 100,000 views, with some videos exceeding 2 million views. That’s a lot of happy cats—or nature lovers in general.
Unlike many other channels we’ve explored, each of Birder King’s videos opens with a signature soundtrack that consists of a short series of bird whistles Alfred can recognize from several rooms away. This was a shrewd choice on the creator’s part—Alfred doesn’t respond to theme music geared toward human tastes. I’m forced to wonder whether cats the world over recognize when a Birder King video has been queued up for them, thanks to those distinctive whistles.
Alfred comes running when he hears Birder King’s signature whistle and doesn’t seem to notice if we leave the house. Whether he watches for the entire two or three hours that we’re gone is anyone’s guess (we have not yet planted pet cameras around the house, as we’re still trying to determine whether that’s a bridge too far).
Given the way he responds to the soundtrack, my hunch is that Birder King is Alfred’s favorite, but he’ll watch any video of birds and squirrels doing bird and squirrel things. We’ve learned, however, that he seems a bit terrified of chickens, so we avoid videos in which chickens are the star of the show.
Content Featuring Fish and Mice: An Obvious Choice
Thankfully, fish and mice don’t scare the ever-loving crap out of our odd feline, and he does sometimes get bored of content starring birds. This is where YouTube channels like Cat Games and Cat Trumpet come in handy.
Cat Games boasts more than 300,000 subscribers and has been in the cat entertainment game since 2016 (ha, see what I did there?). They specialize in mouse hunts, antagonizing laser toys, and fishing. This channel might be best for short trips out of the house, as their videos range from a couple of minutes to two hours.