Why does my cat pay attention to birds and other cats depicted on my television set?

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Some cat behavior can be a little confusing to us, but everything they do is really related to their hunting instinct.

Hunting is an instinctive behavior for our cats. A wild cat’s survival depends on her hunting prowess, as does the survival of her kittens and future generations of cats. Although our housecats are now far more dependent on the can opener than they are on their skills as a predator, the hunting instincts, in some, remain strong.
Combine that instinct with the cat’s curiosity and the instinctual need to be “top cat”—and you have a cat who will hunt and chase whether indoors or outdoors and even when that “prey” is on a piece of string or on the television screen.
While hunting and chasing is instinctual, killing is not. Kittens actually learn that from their mother, so it just doesn’t come into play when they “watch” TV.
In fact, many cats love television and some companies even produce videos of birds and small rodents being active in natural settings—and you will often see behaviors that are variations of hunting behaviors in the wild, such as tail-twitching when stalking, teeth chattering at animals outside the window, and most play behaviors. The natural curiosity of a cat is also related to their hunting instinct. Cats will often seem like they are on the prowl. Cats can also be very territorial in the wild and exhibit things like scratching, spraying, and rubbing.
Even scratching is related to the hunting instinct. Although many new cat owners are concerned about it—and it can certainly wreck some furniture if not dealt with properly, all cats need to scratch. Aside from using this activity to mark their territory, cats also scratch because it feels good and is necessary for keeping their nails clean and healthy. If your cat is provided with a scratching post, and her nails are trimmed regularly, you should not experience too much of a problem with scratching.

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