In my family, we grew up playing games. Some of my earliest memories revolve around playing Life with my mother, father and brothers. We always had a cabinet full of games and puzzles, and we played them every chance we got.
Despite my childhood love for games, though, I stopped playing them for a long time. That all changed when I spent a year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer at The Game Loft, a youth center focused on using non-electronic games to help kids develop social skills, leadership skills and an interest in education. Now I’m a game-playing convert. Again.
Game night with family and friends is a great thing, so turn off your cell phone, get away from the TV, and haul out one of these super-fun cat-based games.
In this game of luck, skill, strategy and intuition, players are dealt four cards, which are kept face-down except for a peek at two of them. Players take turns drawing from the deck to replace one of the cards in their hand. The player with the lowest number of points at the end of the game wins. It teaches kids math skills while being ridiculously fun for all ages.
2. Hot Tin Roof
In the dark of the night, you have a mission: to become your town’s Top Cat. You do this by staking out shelters, connecting with your feline friends and collecting tributes of fish from your minions. By collecting fish, you get cans, and whoever ends up with the most cans in this fun board game is the winner.
This awesomely cool card deck is designed with "semi-transformational" images of cats. That is, you’ll see the number of pips for each card hidden in the drawings of cats that grace each card. Your choice of games is almost limitless with a deck or two of cards.
This is a super-fun game for kids aged three to seven. Players move around the board, and by landing on matching spaces, they can remove layers from a group of cats with too many pajamas on. This game is the winner of the 2011 Moms Best Award for educational and fun games for little children. No reading required.
5. Herding Cats
In this silly card game, you’re trying to wrangle cats by teaming up trios of cats with a Cowdog of a matching color. But if you draw the Stampede card, you’re out of luck because all the cats you’ve wrangled will go to other players. There’s a Cat Lady card you can play to help you out if you’re in a bind.
I’ll be honest; I’ve never been a big fan of Monopoly … well, until I discovered this fun, cat-focused variant. Instead of buying properties, you buy purebred cats, and instead of going to jail, you fall in the water, and if you land on the wrong space you may have to pay the Dog Tax to get past a big nasty canine bully.
One of my favorite things to do with family and friends is to work on a jigsaw puzzle together. It’s meditative, collaborative, and a great way to challenge your spatial skills. They come in all sizes, from little puzzles for little kids through giant brain challengers for hardcore puzzlers. World Of Cats, pictured above, is one of my all-time favorites.
What are your favorite cat-themed games and puzzles? Please share them in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to spend time with my cat-loving friends.
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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.