Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our September/October 2016 issue. Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Here’s a scientifically verified list of things my cat, Mimosa, enjoys: chasing after rolled-up pieces of paper, lounging in cardboard boxes, burrowing under the blanket on the bed, stretching in sunbeams, and staring with disdain at the chirping Red-crested Cardinal outside the window.
It’s safe to say that Mimosa’s not exactly a technologically minded kitty. Other than an early kittenish spell where she seemed to show an interest in following the ball in live soccer games on my iPad, her pursuits and interests are old-fashioned and rooted in the natural world.
We primitive humans, on the other hand, have become besotted with using technology to further our obsession with the feline form. Now that we’re all constantly plugged into our smartphones and spend much of the day gawking at a computer screen, it’s only natural that we’ve turned to technology to keep us in synch with our cats.
The most talked about highend piece of kitty tech at the moment is the Petcube. This small box is a tuned-up interactive camera that lets you view HD video footage of your cat at home while you’re out at work, running errands, or on vacation.
It also features a built-in laser toy, which you activate and control by running your finger over your smartphone’s touch screen, along with a sharing mode that allows family and friends access to check out and play with your kitty, too.
This fusion of interactive technology and cats has also made moves into the pet health world. The Tailio is a fully funded crowd-sourced product that promises to monitor the well-being of your cat through his litter box behavior.
Placed under the sacred pooping station, it records data like your cat’s weight, frequency of toilet trips, and what it calls “elimination behaviors,” which I assume means those crazy quirks of the litter box all cats partake in. Changes in behavior act as an early heads up for potential future health issues. If the Tailio could also actually clean and replace the litter itself, they might really be onto something.
In a similar style, the PetPace is a collar that you strap onto your kitty and use to track his vital stats like temperature, pulse, activity levels, calories burned, and respiration patterns.
Consider it a Fitbit for your cat. By sharing the data with your tech-savvy vet, you can both get a better understanding of your feline’s general well-being or supreme laziness.
The health monitoring scene continues onto your smartphone, with apps like The Pets Directory and iPetCare letting you track vaccinations, vet visits, medication schedules, and basically acting like a virtual manual for your cat. But the real feline fun comes from the more frivolous side of mobile cat tech.
Human-to-Cat Translator is a devilishly warped app that records your voice and turns it into a series of meows, just like if you were speaking to your cat. While it’s probably finagled by a andom algorithm, the various cat noises are lifelike enough to perk up your real world cat’s ears and give him a good-natured spooking. (Hey, it’s good for their constitution.)
Keeping on with the antics, Cat Paint allows you to kitty-up your social media photo game by adding cats to any camera phone photo — complete with lasers coming out of their eyes and the option to mash a cat’s head onto your friend’s body, because you know you’ve always wanted to.
When it comes to mobile cat video game thrills, your first stop should be Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector. It’s basically like a Pokemon for feline fanciers and charges you with building up and caring for a clowder of cats in your backyard.
I’m also a fan of MewMew Tower, where you stack different shaped and sized cat breed on top of each other until you “form a tower of cats high into the sky.” That’s an ultimately futile goal that real world cats would surely appreciate.
While I’ve yet to see Mimosa show an interest in engaging with Neko Atsume and MewMew Tower on my iPhone, she might be willing to finally get on the tech bandwagon with the imminent launch of the Mousr. Billed as the world’s first artificial intelligence cat toy, it teases that it will “bring the excitement of a Tom and Jerry cartoon right into your living room.” In practice, this means the tech mouse toy will adapt to the play needs of your cat.
As Michael Friedman from the makers, Petronics, told me, “We find the part of a game that is most interesting to a cat — the stalking — is the reason a lot of owners get bored during playtime. That’s the great thing about Mousr’s artificial brain — it never gets bored.”
The future is now — are you ready, Mimosa?