The Video I Want for Christmas

By now, most of you have heard about videos which entertain your pet while you are away.  Of course, there are believers and unbelievers, and of course, there are pets who will watch and those who won’t.

The holidays are always a busy time of year; there’s decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, visiting, time spent getting cards and packages out, hosting (and of course, cleaning the house before and after the event!).  Many people spend more time away from home than they would normally.  So what are Fluffy and Fido doing while all this is going on?

The first cat video was produced in 1989, and the idea took off from there.  There are videos for cats, dogs and even birds!  While cats are perceived to be more self-sufficient than dogs (they can nibble at kibble and use the litter box even when you’re not there), dogs who have a doggie door to handle the calls of nature and have sufficient food and water have the same options.  What they don’t have is something to hold their attention or promote interaction, and obviously they don’t have you there to give love and affection.  It’s true that cats and dogs can’t read clocks.  But they do have internal clocks which tell them when you should get home, when they should be fed, etc.  That being said, there are times when we must leave the house (for instance, work or the family holiday gathering).

Some pets suffer separation anxiety if left alone, which can result in damage to furniture, shoes, clothing and bedding.  This is an issue which should be evaluated and treated by your veterinarian.  But sometimes the animal behaves that way because he’s bored.  Cats will on occasion leave droppings from the door to the bed; this not an attempt to punish you for being gone; the cat thinks you must be lost to have left her alone so long, and she’s doing a Hansel-and-Gretel type of thing to help you find your way home.

Let me say here that I do not believe in leaving pets unattended overnight or longer.  Accidents can happen; your pet may knock over something that breaks into sharp pieces and end up with cuts or ingested sharp objects.  Let your imagination run wild here, and remember Murphy’s Law:  ”If anything can go wrong, it will.”  Get a trusted friend or neighbor (preferably one who knows the pet) to check no less than once a day, and if the pet is a cat, to clean out the litter box daily.  There are also professional pet sitters who do this for a fee; if you see a need for this service in the future, try to get your pet acquainted with the sitter before your first absence.

But if your anticipated absence is only for a few hours, a pet video may be a very worthwhile investment.  I have friends who swear by them, and always turn them on when they anticipate being absent for several hours.  One friend’s dad pulls the piano bench in front of the TV and turns on the DVD when he leaves, and the cat is still there when he returns.  My only concern would be that, since TVs today are so slim and light, they could be knocked over by an excited cat or dog.  Of course if you live in earthquake country as I do, your TV should be secured from tipping anyway.

I was amazed at the variety of pet videos available on line, and I am sure you’ll find one that your pet will love.  Give it with all the love you have for your darling, and enjoy the holidays!

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