Playing with Shelter Cats? There’s an App for That.


Did you ever wake up far from home — maybe in a hotel room where you’re staying for a conference or a visit — and miss your feline companions so badly that a lump rose in your throat

Yeah, me too.

But now there’s at least a temporary treatment for your missin’-the-kitty blues: remote play.

Pet toy manufacturer Kong Company recently launched its “Pets Need to Play” campaign: the company installed iPet Companion interactive online cat toys in six shelters across the U.S., which can be controlled through an interface on each shelter’s website. Visitors can use the webcam to look around for cats, and then entice them to play by pressing buttons to activate one of the toys.

Of course, you don’t have to be far from home and missing your cats to enjoy the iPet Companion hijinks: I had plenty of fun jiggling feather toys and wiggling whirlygigs while my beloved Siouxsie was sitting on my lap.

I didn’t get much cat action when I went to play, though: it seems 5:30 p.m. ET is the official feline nap time of America. If only I’d known!

The shelters will have the interactive toys at their facilities for six weeks. Kong hopes that the campaign will bring attention to the adoptable kitties waiting for their forever homes, and therefore increase adoption rates.

According to Kong, shelters that have already installed the iPet Companion systems have reported higher cat adoption rates, an increase in donations and website traffic, and positive media coverage.

It’s free to play with the kitties, and you could save a life in the process: who knows what could happen if a person walks by and sees an adorable kitty playing with a remote-controlled toy?

As of May 17, 2012, the participating shelters are the Foothills Animal Shelter in Denver, Colorado; Idaho Humane Society in Boise, Idaho; Bideawee in New York City; Michigan Humane Society (I’m not sure which of the three locations is home to the interactive toys); Oregon Humane Society in Portland, Oregon; and the Clinton Humane Society in Clinton, Iowa.

To directly access the interactive toy controls for each of these shelters, go to the iPet Companion website.

Photos: Screen captures from some of the shelters’ iPet Companion websites.

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