Bob Ross: celebrated painter, teacher, and television host. My guy, my dude, my spirit guide. I could talk all day about Bob Ross. Like, did you know that he brought a rescued squirrel onto his show once? Just for funsies? Or that he permed his hair to save money on haircuts? Or that he’s a freaking First Sergeant in the US Air Force? Yeah, I could go on all day here.
My affinity for Bob Ross is pretty clear, but is there a possibility your cat might love watching him, too? The Joy Of Painting ran for over a decade, and now it’s finally seeing its renaissance on Netflix (hallelujah!). With that, many people are reporting that their cats have taken a keen interest in the show as well. Whenever they put it on, their cats’ attention becomes transfixed on the screen. Could it be that they recognize their Lord and Savior, or could something else be at play here?
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First, let’s talk about something called ASMR. The term “ASMR” is an acronym for “autonomous sensory meridian response”. Okay, so what the heck is that? Well, like most feelings, it’s kind of hard to explain, and though many people have experienced it, it seems to be a response that is most prevalent in women. For instance, you know when you use one of those wire head massagers, and it sends a tingly jolt down your spine and around the back of your head? Well, that’s basically what ASMR is. So, while this experience is most often seen in women, is it something that cats could feel as well? Maybe!
Okay, so ASMR might occur in cats. Maybe. No one’s postulating anything here. So what does that have to do with my cat liking Bob Ross? Bear with me here. You see, many things can incite an autonomous sensory meridian response. In fact, there are numerous YouTube videos filled with a host of ASMR triggers. These triggers are usually simple sounds such as crinkling paper, soft whispers, jingling beads, and even long fingernails tapping on a glass surface. If you are a person who experiences ASMR, these sounds will give you that tingly sensation – in a very good way. It almost feels like a tickle, but without the desperate need to kick someone in the face and recoil; flailing like you’ve been set ablaze. Yeah, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
For people who experience ASMR, some triggers may affect you, and some may not. For instance, someone might really like the sound of snapping latex gloves, but may not necessarily go for the sound of a jar opening and closing. (And yes, these are all real triggers for ASMR!) As for me, my jam is having someone play with my hair. Like, I love it. I can’t get enough of it. If I was a billionaire (sigh, one day), I would straight up hire someone to just play with my hair, all day every day. I also get down to the sound of a paintbrush sweeping against a canvas. You know, the way a certain curly-haired someone does a lot in his show we were just discussing. See where I’m going with this?
Response In Cats
This theory for why some cats seem super attentive to The Joy Of Painting might actually hold water, too. This video shows a cat watching intently as an ASMR trigger video is being played. And yes, while it could just be that this little baby bean is simply interested in what’s happening on the screen, it could also be that he’s responding to the video the same way that a person who experiences ASMR would. Like I said, it’s just a theory.
But how do we know that a cat is really interested in something? That part’s easy. As you can see in the video, this little buddy’s got wide eyes and perky ears – two hallmark signs of alertness. He even turns slightly to face the video with more attentiveness. And you may know from having a cat that it can sometimes take a lot for a cat to express interest… unless food is involved.
So, why not try it out for yourself? Put on some Bob Ross and see how Boots reacts to all the glorious ASMR triggers. Do it for SCIENCE! And, you know, for Bob Ross!