Before I begin this post, I have a special message for my cat: Rosie, you may not play with my iPad!
Now you may wonder why a cat would even want to play with an iPad. But it turns out that Friskies, the catfood company, has created three games especially for cats: “CatFishing,” “Tasty Treasures Hunt,” and “Party Mix-Up.” As you can see from the video, things that interest cats (like fish and catfood-shaped objects) appear on the screen. When the cat swipes the screen with its paw, stuff happens.
The games went through rigorous testing. Friskies recruited eight cats to see which shapes, wiggles, colors, and sounds were attractive to felines. Conclusion: “The games resonate really well and cats actually react to it,” says Ryan Gass, a Friskies spokesman.
There was initial concern about the possible negative impact of cat claws on the iPad screen. “Most of our experiences with our cats, the screens held up just fine,” says Gass. But if you have a plastic screen protector on your iPad, he warns, a cat’s claws could damage it.
The feline tester who enjoyed the games the most is a nine-year-old male (of course) named Gary. He’s the first cat, with brown fur, in the “Party Mix-Up” game video. “He loved pretty much every game we developed,” says Gass. “He is the ultimate gamer of cats.”
Others were not quite as curious. “Some jumped in, others kind of looked at it and weren’t exactly sure what was going on,” says Gass, but eventually they came around.
Should we be worried that cats will become addicted to iPad games and ignore such traditional playthings as balls of yarn and dead rodents, I asked?
Gass assured me that there’s an app for that, too—or will be soon. Friskies is also developing a smartphone app called “Here Kitty Kitty.” It will play sounds that cats like: chirping birds, meowing, the sound of a cat-food can being opened. Their owners can use it to lure digitally-addicted kitties away from the iPad and back into the real world. —Marc Silver