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Games for Cats: What's All the Buzz About?

Pros and Cons of Electronic Games for Our Feline Friends

By Kat Sherbo. March 25, 2013 | See Comments

Games for Cats: What's All the Buzz About?

A new wave of cat toys is here: electronic games on tablets! Find out what these games entail and some of the possible drawbacks.

Cats at play are fierce, fast, and fun. Perhaps that’s why Friskies has developed the first interactive human-cat game, You vs. Cat. Pioneers in the suddenly growing industry of games for cats, the company has developed a number of games that cats can play, with or without human competition, on iPads and Android tablets. And they're not the only ones. Other app developers are getting in on the game.

Why Use Electronic Games for Cats?

For one, it’s fun to pit your own reflexes against those of your cat. According to the You vs. Cat world-wide leaderboard, cats are far in the lead the world over in human-cat head-to-head competitions. 

For kitty-cat-only games, the new fad of electronic games for cats allows pet parents to sit back and giggle while their cat goes after the fish, cheese, or other colorful images on the screen. According to Friskies, every decision in their games was made with cats in mind: the colors and movement of the on-screen objects were developed to appeal to cat senses. The darting and direction-changing objects seem to mimic a mouse or small prey running around.

What About My Tablet’s Screen?

The company claims that an iPad’s alkali-aluminosilicate glass screen stands up to cat paws and claws. No official word on Android tablets, though some users warn that a screen protector on a tablet device could be scratched by a cat’s claws. 

But Do Cats Enjoy Electronic Games?

Not every feline will jump at the screen ready for play. Some will shrink from the strangeness, or simply not be interested, so don’t shove your tablet at your cat if they don’t want to play.

A Big Possible Drawback

If your cat does play, you should be aware that for best results, you’re signing on for a bit more than perhaps you thought. Why is that? Well, imagine chasing something for hours, and never actually catching anything in your paws. Would you want your owner to simply turn off the game and pat you on the head?

Pam Johnson Bennet, a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant, cautions that a vigorous play session in terms of movement—what you might think is great kitty exercise—is not enough. “If you simply focus on physically keeping your cat active and neglect his need for mental satisfaction and confidence, then you’re doing him a disservice,” she says.

A “caught” fish turning into spirals of color on a screen might satisfy a human player, but cats like to feel that “catch” with their own paws. Leaving your cat frustrated after a game may not sound like a huge deal, but it could add up to behavioral problems. And don’t you want your feline friend to feel accomplished after a hunt?

So How Do You Make Sure Your Cat is Satisfied at the End of the Game? 

When the virtual villains are conquered, move the play session from tablet to reality with a cat wand or mouse toy. Let your cat culminate the hunt by pouncing and capturing a physical thing. A treat or two is a great follow-up as well.

More on Cat Care

How to Exercise Your Cat with Play
Cat Proof Your Breakables
The Benefits of a Playful Cat

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