Over a year ago, I turned my iPad into an overpriced cat toy. You called me crazy, but the fact remains that I had no trouble finding apps that were intended just for that. Turning a tablet into a cat toy, no matter how overpriced, seems to be something many people want to do at least once. And to be honest, the risk really is minimal, and is definitely worth the fun of watching your cat trying to catch an imaginary cockroach.
As I told you in my previous post, the cats turned out to be extremely gentle with the iPad, and the whole thing was much more fun than I expected. So why leave Android owners out of the loop? Since I don’t expect you to pay for such an app, I dug around the Google Play Store to find some free apps that will turn your Nexus 7 or other Android tablet into a respectable cat toy.
I’m not suggesting, of course, that you take a tablet you work with and give it to your cat, but having some cat-friendly apps on your tablet never hurts to help your cat through a rough spot on an especially boring day. So call your cat in, it’s time to play!
Note: all apps were tested on a 1st generation rooted Kindle Fire running stock Android.
For the humans: This is a surprisingly life-like cat game that features either a mouse (most believable), a laser pointer, or a raven. You also get to choose between five different backgrounds, and decide if you want sound effects or not. The app is ad-supported, and the graphics are basic, but surprisingly, it gets the job done.
For the cats: It might be the mouse squeaks, it might be the graphics, but for some reason my cats, who were feeling very bored prior to me loading this app, suddenly perked up and started following the mouse. It was the first (and only) app I tested that actually got them interested enough to paw at the screen. When the cat actually manages to catch the mouse/laser point/raven, these react by making a noise and moving faster, which is a nice touch.
Overall: Worth a try, especially the mouse.
Cat Toy – CAT ALONE [2.3+]
For the humans: This was the game I had the highest hopes for. It has the nicest graphics, the most options, no ads, and just seems like a fun game to play. The game has six different options: a laser pointer, a ladybug, a finger, a fly, a cockroach, and a weird sketching mode. I’m not sure why the sketch thing should appeal to cats, but the rest of them look promising. To go back to the menu from play mode you need to tap the screen three times — something a cat shouldn’t be able to do. Here too, you can choose to have or not to have sound effects, although they’re pretty non-existent even when they’re on.
For the cats: Turns out I’m not a cat. No matter which mode I put this on, my cats would not play. The cockroach mode definitely got them curious, and they sat there looking at the screen for a while, but at no point did they attempt to actually catch one. Had they tried, I’m not sure they would have liked the result. While the subjects do react to tapping, the reactions are a bit weird and unnatural. Maybe some cats like them, I don’t know, but with my cats, I never even got that far.
Overall: Nice for the humans, the cats weren’t impressed. If you do try it, go for the cockroach mode.
Game for Cat [1.6+]
For the humans: If Cat Toy impressed me with its graphics, Game for Cat did exactly the opposite. This is the simplest app of all the ones I tested, and it’s apparent that not much effort was put into this part of the app. The game consisted of a circle dashing around the screen, which keeps changing colors, shapes, and speeds. The app is ad supported, and there are no options to choose from. What you see is what you get.
For the cats: The cats weren’t impressed, to say the least. To start, the circle moves very fast most of the time, which makes it almost impossible to catch, or even follow with the eyes. It was moving so fast, my cats barely even noticed it unless I really tried, and even then they lost interest quickly. Not that it’s possible considering the speed, but if a cat does manage to catch it, the circle sort of explodes in a manner that would suit kids more than cats. It also meows, for some reason.
Overall: My cats were falling asleep watching this, but on a bigger screen it might work better.
Kinetic Cat – Game for Cats [2.3+]
For the humans: This app features an interesting yet obscure cogwheel graphics, as well as buzzing flies which the cats should attempt to catch. You can choose to have one fly, three flies, or just tap “Start”, which is the same as choosing three flies as far as I could see. The flies buzz pretty realistically (it was real enough to make my skin crawl), and move around the screen as flies do. The contrast to the background is pretty poor, so I didn’t expect much of this app despite the apparent effort that was put into it.
For the cats: This one was touch and go. If the cats were already in the mood for tablet games, the flies managed to catch their attention. But it didn’t really manage to hold it, or to make them attempt to catch anything. The most they did was look, and that didn’t last long, either. If they had tried to catch a fly, it would have been smooshed, only to be replaced by a new one.
Overall: Some cats might like it. My cats weren’t fooled by the buzzing. A lighter background would have done wonders for this game.
Trying to turn my Android tablet into a cat toy was not as successful as I had hoped. I’m not sure if it’s the size of the tablet, the quality of the apps, or the cats’ mood, but no matter what I did, they simply weren’t impressed. Cat Toy for Tablets & Phones was the only one that got them playing and moving, and I believe it’s the mouse squeaking that did the trick.
Another app to try if you own a non-Kindle Android tablet is Friskies Happy Wings, which I could not try myself as it does not work on my device. And you never know, maybe your cat will enjoy a game aimed at humans — perhaps something from our Best Android Games page, or, for extra-clever cats, a puzzle game.
Of course, all cats are different, so feel free to test these apps with your cat and let me know how you fared. Which app was your cat’s favorite?