I really like living in the age of phone apps. I use them all the time on my iPhone — to check in for flights; play podcasts while I walk dogs; track my speed, distance, et cetera on a run; and even watch tiny movies in bed with my phone a few inches from my face. Then I had lunch with a friend who casually mentioned that her husband had been acquiring apps for their cats! I’m embarrassed to write that it never even occurred to me that my cat could have fun with my phone too. So I did a little searching.
Human to Cat
This app has prerecorded cat voices you can play for your cat. You also can say a few words to your phone in your regular human language and then play it back in cat-speak. My cat, Fergie, didn’t care much for the prerecorded cats — her common response was to lay back her ears and walk away — but the human-to-cat-translations sometimes elicited a purr. The app does come with a disclaimer: “Don’t be mean. This app is meant to be fun for you and your pets. If your pets become distressed or aggressive, please use it to bug your friends instead.” That will be phase two of my cat-app-testing experiment.
Cat Game, Jitter Bug, Cat Fishing 2
I lump these together because they all have a common game play. Red laser dots, creepy-crawly insects and fish move across the screen and your cats score points when they tap one with their paws. Fergie liked Cat Game the best, maybe because we’ve spent a lot of time playing with laser toys together. Cat Game’s red dot moves across the background of your choosing. Fergie didn’t seem to notice the dot on the leafy background, but she went crazy for the hardwood floor. One thing that would have frustrated Fergie if she’d known about it was that she was sometimes cheated out of a good score. I’d clearly see her snatch that fish or bug or decimate that laser dot, but her paw tap sometimes went unrecognized.
This one displays a keyboard. When your cat (or you) hits a key it meows the proper note. Fergie was not at all interested in creating music.
This app lets you customize coupons (for stores including PetSmart) to feature a photo of your pet. Coupons can then be passed along via text, email and social media sites.
A great way to enhance vacation photos, or any photos really, is to drop an image of a cat into them. I had lots of fun playing with this one.
Apps that are worth their $1.99 asking price
Instead of scoring points for chasing a laser dot, butterfly, fish, bird or bouncing cat head, your cat takes a selfie each time he taps the screen. Most of the resulting photos are bad. All of my feline friend Gizmo’s selfies were just an orange square of fur, and Fergie took lots of photos of my bedroom ceiling fan and the tip of her ear. Every once in a while she managed something pretty cute. Like the other game apps, the phone didn’t always recognize a paw hit and it never responded at all when Fergie grabbed the phone with both front paws and tried to bite the screen.
This one plays music that’s supposed to appeal to and soothe your pets. There are settings for cats, dogs and horses and playlists for when you’re listening with your pets. While a bit new age-y for my personal tastes, already-mellow Fergie didn’t voice any objections when I tried it out on her. But it did seem work as advertised on a pair of stressed-out cats I visited that were hanging out in a walk-in closet during a home renovation. One of them even started purring along.