Kitty Tech: More to ComePublished January 18, 2011
Earlier this month, an article appeared in the New York Times, discussing cat apps.
Yes, that's right! A growing number of applications have been created for cats. According to the article, "the apps do for pets what they generally do for people: help them fight boredom while also letting them look cool."
To see a cool kitty play, watch here.
After reading this article, I thought about treating my Himalayan Hayden to his own play station since he just had surgery. For a hot minute, I thought about packing up Hayden in his soft-sided Sturdi carrier and running right over to the Apple Store on Prince Street since it is just a few blocks from my Soho apartment. I prefer to go the store instead of buying the item from the internet so that I could receive assistance when choosing the best iPad or iPhone for my precocious kitty.
Imagine my pulling Hayden out of his soft-sided carrier and asking the sales person to help us find the purrfect iSomething so that Hayden could fight boredom and look cool. I would probably have to pay a premium as I would want a scratch resistant screen.
But before investing in such a purchase ($499+ for an iPad or $69+ for iPhone), I decided to consult with the only apps designer that I know, my friend Gerardo Herrera, to see if my purchase was warranted. Gerardo is a former Noika apps designer and currently, the co-owner of YepYup pet products. Most recently, Gerardo designed the Pet Dossier, a digital organizer for dogs, cats, birds and other critters. His product allows pet owners to keep track of their pet's history, medications and appointments and to email the information to their pet care givers.
Herrera believes that cat apps are just the beginning as pet technology becomes more infused into our lives. "Since we have already humanized pets, expect to see more innovations in the next two to five years in the areas of pet entertainment, animal health and wellness and pet care services," he says.
But some experts discourage setting up an iPad or an iPhone for your cat to play because this source of entertainment can stifle the animal-human bond and discourage cat and cat owner interaction. I must admit there is nothing like playing with my boy and his DaBird, truly the greatest cat toy. He leaps. He bats. All white trying to get that bird. Proud mother that I am, I must brag that Hayden conducts moves that should be studied by Cirque du Soleil or any of the popular acrobatic or contortionist troops springing up all over the world.
Moreover, my life is infused with pet technology. I have the Cat Sitter DVD to play for my cats to watch when I am out. One reason that I enjoy the FroliCat Bolt laser toy is because I have the option to use manually or automatically. There is something about the set it and forget option that I find delightful. Additionally, I do have cameras all over my house to watch my home full of critters while I am out and/or traveling.
So what's one more pet gadget-even it cost 30 times more than most of others? And then, there's the cost of the apps. Most cat apps can be downloaded for free or for a few dollars.
I was surprised to see so many apps. There are apps to help cat owners deal with emergencies (Cat First Aid), train their cats (Cat Training), manage feline expenses (Cat Mark), take better photos (PetSnap), enhance their feline humor (iLOLZ), promote their musical and artistic abilities (CatPaint, Simon's Cat in Purrfect Pitch, Cat Piano) and talk to cats (Talking Cat as seen on Ellen).
Specifically, I am more interested in apps that can spark Hayden's attention. Other than Cat Toy, I like Game for Cats in which your pet can chase a laser or a mouse. This game keeps score of the points that your cat racks up. (At this point, nothing is absurd and I can imagine a cat gaming competition.) And, there's Kitty! This cat app features eight different real life cat sound effects to choose from. Hide the iPhone or iPad and encourage your cat to hunt "Kitty!" down. Just don't forget where you hid the device! It could drive you both crazy.
Charlotte Reed, a pet trend and lifestyle expert, is the author of "The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette (Adams Media)."