Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

Cats and their owners will want to get their paws on these iPad apps

by Marty Gabel

Make no mistake, your iPad isn’t just for you anymore. A simple search of “cat and iPad” on YouTube reveals thousands of videos of our feline friends transfixed by moving objects on the tablet’s big screen. In fact, this popular video of a kitty having fun playing Fruit Ninja HD went viral a few months ago, with more than 1.5 million views to date. .

There are a lot of different apps available now to amuse your cat. Most of these are on Apple’s iOS platform and work best on the iPad. It’s unlikely that the smaller screen of the iPhone will amuse your pet quite so well, and don’t be surprised if they prefer to use the smartphone itself as a toy. However, the iPad is the perfect size, and its scratch-proof glass can even resist kitty’s sharp claws. Here is a look at five of our favorites apps to keep your cat happy.

Friskies Games for Cats

This may have been the site and apps that started the craze. Friskies now have a number of iOS apps available in the iTunes App Store. Fortunately, for non-iPad tablet owners (using Android, BlackBerry or Windows 7 tablets), some of these will work as browser-based Flash applications instead. However, when we checked, we sometimes had a tough time getting them to expand to full screen. Cat Fishing and its exciting sequel, Cat Fishing 2 are both free. These should keep your kitty amused with colorful fishies swimming around which are easily patted away by curious paws. Additional free titles in the series include Friskies JitterBug, Tasty Treasures Hunt and Party Mix-Up!, a particular favorite of one of my cats who seemed to enjoy seeing the treat-shaped crunchy food bits spinnng against a black background. It would be great to see these all ported to Google’s Android Market one day for Android tablet users so they can enjoy the full feline experience.

Game for Cats

One of the earliest games for cats in the iTunes App Store for iPad owners was simply entitled Game for Cats. To this day, it still does a great job. The app is free to begin with, but an in-app purchase of $1.99 will unlock all its features. There are a couple of things for kitty to enjoy here including a laser pointer to chase. That $1.99 we mentioned lets you move the laser directly with your iPhone for total control, and also unlocks a mouse with which your kitty can play. With sounds emitted every time the cat steps on the mouse or laser, this extra level of interactivity should keep cats interested for a while.

Paint for Cats

So what happens if Mr. Tiddles is a little more creative, or tires of chasing a cartoon mouse or fish shapes around the iPad screen? Well, for the cat owner who believes they may have a true artist in their midst, why not try Paint for Cats instead? A $1.99 investment gets you this intriguing app designed by Noel Murray, who also created Game for Cats. We thought it would be fun to include this one as it is a little different. The idea here is the cat chases the mouse, but this time a painting is created as they go. Some cats may react to the cool color splotches they leave in their wake, but it’s likely they’ll really just be chasing the mouse more than anything. However, as a proud pet owner, you can print out kitty’s creation and hang it on the wall for all to see. Your cat, meanwhile, will likely be unimpressed by such pride in his or her artistic abilities and simply want more food or to take a nap.

Cat Piano Concerto

Once again, let’s step away from the usual cat-chases-mouse scenario and feature something a bit more unusual. Cat Piano Concerto could be the best (or worst) 99 cents you will ever spend, depending on how your kitty reacts to it. Perhaps more importantly, much will depend on how irritated you are by the noises it makes. Launch the app, and a keyboard appears. As you run your fingers across the keys, various meows are emitted which will possibly drive you bonkers, but may amuse your cat at least. Put your iPad down on the floor and perhaps your kitty, too, will walk across the keys. So here is one cat-friendly app that both owner and feline can potentially enjoy. It’s hard to gauge whether the cats will be enticed or frightened by a chorus of meows, but dogs in the home may get a real kick out of it. A free version is available to try out first.

PlentyOfFur

Not every app for cats needs to be playful. Did you know there is even a social network now for cats and dogs called PlentyOfFur? Admittedly, pet owners are likely to get a lot more benefit from this app than the cats themselves, but don’t tell kitty that. This free iPhone app (and its accompanying website) is certainly not supposed to be taken too seriously, and acts like a tongue-in-cheek Facebook for your pets. Put up a profile, share pictures and let your kitty find some new friends. Although it’s a fairly new service and still needs more sign-ups to make it really tick, PlentyOfFur also offers access to forums where pet owners can discuss diet, behavior and other issues or even share a few jokes. Perhaps when kitty is ailing one day, there will be some useful advice here once more cats sign-up!

And for you Android fans...

Admittedly, we’ve been a bit more iPad and iPhone focused with these apps. But frankly, there is very little in the way of fun, cat-focused apps in the Android Market right now, except for informational ones. This is likely to change quickly as Android tablets continue to surge in popularity.

In the meantime however, why not improvise? You may recall a viral video just recently of a bearded dragon playing a game called Ant Smasher on an Android smartphone. When I tried this app out on one of my cats he was fairly intrigued by the little creepy crawlies. Be warned, however, though the app is initially free, you’ll need to pay to unlock all its content.

If Ant Smasher and other games of its ilk don’t amuse your kitties, why not get creative with some animated live wallpaper on your Android tablet and see if your cat reacts to the movement? They may be partial to a Koi Pond or Aquarium one, for example. And, if in doubt, there is always the Android version of Fruit Ninja to try out (available for smartphone or tablet). Just maybe you’ve got the next viral video kitty superstar on your hands.