Trends in Japan

Owners Are Using High-tech to Keep Their Pets Occupied

APRIL 18, 1996

(Photo: Maxam)

The pet boom has now engendered videos to show your dog or cat. The videos claim to keep pets glued to the television screen while owners are busy attending to other things, and they are proving quite popular.

Scenes of Parks and Farms
These videos were originally produced by a U.S. company specializing in videos for animals. A Japanese production company secured the copyrights to the footage, packaged them for Japanese audiences, and launched them last fall.

There are two videos--one for dogs and another for cats. Both consist mainly of scenery and run for 25 minutes. The video for dogs shows a "dog's-eye view" of a farm, while the feline version shows birds and squirrels eating and moving around in a park, complete with sounds of chirping birds.

Do cats and dogs really watch these videos? According to the company that markets them, even dogs and cats have preferences, and so whether they will watch or not cannot be determined until owners actually sit their pets in front of the screen. Even in America where the videos were originally produced, there is no data on dog and cat reactions to the recorded images and sounds.

Nevertheless, cats are said to be sensitive to slight movements and high sounds. More than a few cat lovers say their cats often become totally captivated by quick movements in television cartoons and computer games. The video for cats therefore carries a warning that "Cats may become over-excited and try to jump into the screen, so please clear away any breakable objects in the vicinity before playing this video."

In any event it seems that many owners are eager to show their pets scenes of the great outdoors, as almost 3,000 copies have been sold, mainly by mail order. The video costs 2,480 yen (23 dollars at 106 yen to the dollar).

(Photo: Maxam)

Isn't It Better to Walk Your Pet?
Other audio-visual products aiming to cash in on the pet boom, such as compact discs and cassette tapes purporting to relieve dog and cat stress, have been available for around five years. Videos, however, have hitherto been aimed only at the owners, with most of them offering training tips.

"These videos are probably a consequence of the increase in the number of pets being kept indoors," animal experts say. "Dogs, though, should really be taken outside for walks, and cats should also spend time outdoors."

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