I got a camera to spy on my cat – and it made me question everything about myself

We document everything obsessively. And implicit in this compulsion is the suspicion that our lives are best understood at a distance – but what do we lose?

This summer I bought two in-home security cameras. I told people I got them because my cat was sick, and I required on-demand proof he was still alive. But the truth is, I just wanted to spy on him. There’s something about a cat sitting by itself on a couch, staring into the middle distance in an empty room, that is inherently funny. What are they thinking? When they slink off camera, where are they going?

The problem with getting a camera for your pets is that you also inadvertently get a camera for yourself. Years ago, when my ex and I got one for our cat, he once caught me eating Pringles on the couch and sent me a text: “Once you pop.” The camera, in those moments, was a comical imposition, fulfilling its duty of surveillance in precisely the ways we didn’t want.

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