Does Your Cat Need an iPad?

There is a community whose technology needs have been traditionally underserved: cats. But no longer. Dozens of apps designed to appeal specifically to your feline friends are now on the tablet market. But will your cat's claws scratch your screen — and do cats even like them?

Apps for Cats
Along with the countless apps available for humans, there are plenty cat-specific games to choose from, including a fishing game, a virtual laser pointer app, and — for your artistically inclined pet - Paint for Cats, and Cat Piano Concerto. Plus, you can always try to entice them with the same colorful movement games that appeal to people, like Fruit Ninja HD.

Do Cats Even Like Them?
To find out if cats even care, I went directly to the experts — the cats at the Tony La Russa Animal Rescue Foundation. First, I tried the laser pointer game. Basically, this just has a bright spot moving around the screen. Not surprisingly, most cats gave it a ho-hum. Paint for Cats got a better response. This app has a little brown mouse darting around the screen; when kitty's paw tries to pin it, the iPad registers a colorful finger-paint impression. Rembrandt, it's not. But maybe Van Gogh in his later years.

Next, I tried Cat Fishing 2. This one got the best response, as several cats were enticed to pounce on the colorful fish swimming across the screen.

Finally, what Friskies is calling the first inter-species game: You vs. Cat. This is set up something like air hockey, where you (the human) send a virtual cat treat bouncing across the tablet. If you get it into the goal before your cat pounces on it, you score; if not, your cat scores. Clever idea, and definitely a fun way to interact with your pet — if she wants to play.

Scratch Test
The fun would end in a flash if kitty's claws scratched the screen. Good news, here. I spent the day letting half a dozen cats go at my iPad — one even liked to bite the home button — but the device escaped unharmed.

Related: Do You Really Need a Screen Protector?

Does Your Cat Really Need an iPad?
True, your cat will not be developmentally stilted or shunned by its peers if it doesn't have the latest apps and an iPad, but if you have a particularly curious cat, this could offer some variety. Yet even the cats that liked the apps the most still liked physical toys and a real laser pointer better.