Me: Mary Beth, what is the Cat Cam?
MB: The Cat Cam is a way to see if there are any cats in the neighborhood of my downstairs computer. The most recent photo shows on my blog's main page and there's a link at the top of the blog to a separate page of cat cam images.
Me: How did you get the idea for a Cat Cam?
MB: Web cams have been very popular on the web for quite awhile and showed all kinds of things - boardwalks along vacation destinations, chickens, coffee makers, you name it. I thought it would be a cool thing to be able to see what my own little herd was doing throughout the day.
One of the things that makes web page visitors happy is new content. A web cam lets you show photos that change over time, and you only have to set it up and get it going. Since I blog about my cats sometimes and show other photos that I take of them, the Cat Cam fits right in. You might show your dog's favorite places to be or a view out a window that shows different things throughout the day - a sidewalk view or a busy bird feeder etc.
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MB: The location of my webcam is good because there's a sunny window with a nearby cat roost near my computer. The cats take advantage of the sunny spot and recently I hung a couple bird feeders outside to keep the cats' interest. Sort of a "kitty TV".
Me: What is the funniest thing you've observed on your Cat Cam?
MB: Cats don't really get aggressive over spots - I heard it described once as cats having a time-share plan for all the best spots. But occasionally I'll see one lay down next time the one already there and sort of streeeeetch out, until the other one leaves in disgust.
Me: What equipment do you need?
MB: The basics: a computer with internet access, a webcam of some kind, a website and some space online to upload photos. You also need a bit of software to handle taking the photos and uploading them to your website's folder.
I used to use an iSight camera attached to my mac. Now I have a Microsoft LiveCam HD attached to it. If my computer was facing the right way I could have used its built-in web cam. I use EvoCam software but there are lots of them out there that do similar things and work for both MAC or WIN computers. Evocam lets me set up a motion sensitive area of the area being photographed which triggers the photo to be taken.
You'll notice on my webcam page that I have the ten most recent photos showing, along with shots of the individual cats so viewers can try to ID them. I started showing more than one photo because folks kept seeing "no cat" and teased me that I really didn't have any cats at all. I realized it was a lot like the Schrödinger's cat problem so I re-wrote the page to explain how the motion sensor works and why there were often shots of "no cat". Having a few recent photos increases the chances of actually seeing a cat or two.
Me: How can we set up our own Pet Cam?
MB: Get a webcam, a bit of software and follow the directions to upload your webcam shots to your website. Play with the settings of the software to make it work best for your view and show the world a part of your world!
Here are some handy links to let you look for a software that will work for you.
Thank you Mary Beth for sharing your expertise. Okay, now I hope you'll hop over to take a peek at Mary Beth's page, and if see if you are lucky enough to catch any cats on the Cat Cam. If you do, leave a comment here and let us know what you saw!