For the Birds Radio Program: Kasey the Cat's Big Screen TV
I keep talking to people who are lusting for a big screen TV. I’ve seen them on display in big box stores, and they do seem pretty cool, but no way could I afford to spring for one, and if I did, I wouldn’t have anyplace to fit it in my Ithaca apartment. But my cat Kasey has her own big screen TV that she spends almost every daylight hour watching, and I must admit it fills her with more joy than anything else in our apartment. It’s huge—a full five feet wide and over 6 feet high. The color definition is amazing, and every single thing we see through it is in shockingly realistic full 3-D.
In spite of all those pleasurable viewing features, Kasey’s big screen TV is remarkably low-tech—it doesn’t even have an electric plug! Instead of an on/off switch, I just open or close the drapes. Kasey’s big screen TV even has a dual purpose—it doubles as the sliding glass doors to our balcony, where my bird feeders are.
The programming varies from day to day, but like a soap opera, we can follow many of the characters week by week, sometimes for months. Chickadees are old reliables, but Kasey doesn’t find nearly as much interest in them as she does in their cousins, the Tufted Titmice. For me, the titmice are fascinating because each little flock is composed of a family unit. I think Kasey’s main interest in them is because they come in together and sit down for a bit, sometimes three or four of them chipping away at seeds at the same time, and one tends to eat its sunflower seeds on the balcony floor just inches from Kasey’s nose.
Kasey seems to think her TV has a touch screen, because whenever that titmouse comes in, she starts pawing at the glass. She also does that when goldfinches alight—one of their sock feeders is just an inch from the glass, enhancing that 3-D effect, and Kasey apparently finds it frustrating that she can’t make the screen do something—like magically disappear so she could jump out and grab one of those avian actors. I’m not sure if she wants their autographs or what, but then, it’s hard for anyone who truly loves chickadees and titmice to be able to fully get into the mindset of a cat.
When the Blue Jays make an appearance, Kasey starts making an odd machinegun-style rattling sound as her whole body tenses up. It’s not just their size—she doesn’t react that way to Mourning Doves or any of the woodpeckers that show up, just Blue Jays. She must have seen one in a performance that irritated her beyond end, because her response to them pretty much matches my response when I see Jack Nicholson on my own TV.
To watch her Big Screen TV in comfort, I’ve put a little bed by it, and Kasey spends most of her day there. But even when the screen goes dark for the night, she checks it now and then. Late last summer one time she leaped at the screen in the middle of the night, and when I got up to look, there was a huge raccoon standing there, paws up, studying Photon, Kasey, and me before squeezing through the balusters and climbing down the post. I don’t know if Kasey has been hungering for a repeat performance, but she spends a lot of each night staring out at the darkness. And last week her vigilance was rewarded—in the middle of the night, I woke to her leaping on the screen. I turned on the porch light and there against the snow on the balcony was a little deer mouse. He shrank and froze in position and then, as we all stood stock-still for a minute or two, he resumed eating or stuffing his face, and then scurried down the post. He returned at least four or five times that night—at least, that’s how many times Kasey started playing with the touch screen—and she continues to be vigilant. Yes, if you’re going to get a big screen TV, I highly recommend sticking some nice bird feeders behind it and settling in for a lovely day’s programming.