When a co-worker forwarded me an e-mail about games you could play with your cat or dog, I was intrigued. I decided to get CatFeats and see how my cat, Cecil, would enjoy a card and dice game for people and felines.
For our first attempt, I invited my sister, Chrissy Macaulay of Warren, over to play. Chrissy is an animal lover, and Cecil always enjoys her visits.
Setup for the game was easy. The game comes with colored cards with tricks for players to attempt to get cats to perform, a matching colored die, a scorepad, pencil and timer.
Test-cat Cecil has a “you want me to do what?” look as he stares at his ball and sits near the rest of the family’s board games.
I divided the cards into six piles, one for each number on the die, and put our names on the scorepad. I collected some of Cecil's toys and his favorite treats, but to my dismay, I couldn't find his laser pointer. After several minutes of fruitless searching, I opted to try playing without it this time.
Chrissy and I decided that we wouldn't use the timer for game play - we'd know fairly quickly if Cecil was going to do the trick or not.
To play, we would roll the die and pick up the card that corresponded to the number we rolled. Then, using treats, toys or gentle persuasion, we would have to get Cecil to do the trick on the card. If we succeeded in getting Cecil to perform the trick, we would get the number of points on the card.
Some tricks were easy. All I had to do to get Cecil to look at me was call his name.
Though he can be a pretty vocal cat, getting him to speak on command was not so simple. Since Chrissy and I were feeding him treats every few minutes, he didn't have incentive to meow at us, and I had to record a zero under my score.
Without the laser pointer, I failed miserably at trying to get Cecil to dance or to walk in a circle, but I gave Chrissy points for effort when she held a treat between her teeth in an attempt to get Cecil to kiss her. By using a rubber ball with streamers on the end, she also managed to get Cecil to roll over.
We played to 40 points, and Chrissy beat me soundly, 41 to 28, though Cecil was the real winner with an hour of play and all the treats he could eat.
Of course, as soon as we had the game put away, I found the missing laser pointer.
Several nights later, my husband, Jim, and I took out the game again. I was interested to see how Jim would do - since Cecil had been his cat for 11 years before I came into the picture, I thought Cecil would be more inclined to perform for him than for me.
As I thought, getting Cecil to do certain tricks was easier with the laser pointer. I didn't have to make myself look like an idiot dancing all over the living room in an attempt to get Cecil to imitate me - instead, I got him to follow the pointer.
Again, Cecil was not inclined to speak since he was getting all the attention and treats he wanted.
This game was closer, and I actually wound up beating Jim by a single point. (Guess we know now who Cecil likes best!)
We called the game when Cecil seemed to lose interest, wandering away from us as we attempted to coax him into performing a trick.
CatFeats is fun to play, and as Jim noted, Cecil was a good sport about the whole experience. Cecil is a pretty mellow, laid-back cat, so I would bet that most cats would have a shorter attention span. However, CatFeats is easily adaptable for shorter game play.
And as long as cats and their people are having a good time, everybody wins.