Jane Talkington's Kitty Video Gives Hungry Cats a View That Forever Fascinates

updated 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/13/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Wanna give your cat some cheap thrills? Or should that be chirp thrills? For all cat owners wishing to provide their pampered felines with a whisker-tickling experience, Jane Talkington has made a 30-minute video that consists entirely of birds doing the things that birds do: chirping, pecking, hopping around, all in tantalizing close-up. And Talkington's tape, Kitty Video, is being pounced on by the catty crowd. "I'm getting letters from all over the country about cats who are turning into couch potatoes," she says.

Anyone who has ever seen Sylvester's lip-smacking pursuit of Tweety in the Saturday-morning cartoons knows that cats are canary fanciers. But boob-tube birds? Talkington says she was watching a TV special a year or so ago about backyard birds of Britain when she noticed that her own kitty (named Kitty) was also enraptured. "Her eyes lit up just like a 3-year-old watching Big Bird," says Talkington. "She meowed and pawed at the screen."

That's when Talkington, 25 and a senior majoring in marketing at Oklahoma State University Stillwater, decided the movie business was in her future. Working with commercial cameraman Gene Shouse and using Kitty and some of her like-minded neighborhood tabbies as a captive audience, Talkington conducted basic research on cat reactions to various birds. Some avians screen-tested better than others. "Ducks are a disaster," she says. "I suppose it's because most cats can't stand the water. The cats ran for cover whenever they saw a hawk or an eagle, and parrots scare them because they're too loud." In the end, it was the humbler birds from all over the world—finches, starlings, doves and bluebirds—that set cat pulses racing.

Kitty Video ($19.95) available at some pet stores and by direct mail, has sold more than 1,000 copies since its launch in July. One of the video's biggest nonfeline fans is Barbara Diamond of Canoga Park, Calif., a columnist at Cat Fancy magazine. "I've seen more than one cat stalk the TV, then lunge," says Diamond. "One cat spent half the day searching for a bird behind our TV."

In the best Hollywood tradition, Talkington is now thinking of a sequel, The Return of Kitty Video, with more birds and guest appearances by mice and goldfish. A video for dogs is another possibility. What turns dogs on? "Arthritic postmen," says Talkington, "three-legged cats and fire hydrants."

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