can your ipad make your cat healthier?

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Sep 19 2014

In this digital world of smart phones and tablets, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a new app. In fact, there is probably even an app that lets you simulate rock throwing, so that you don’t actually have to throw the rock yourself.

There are hundreds of pet-centric apps for pet owners: apps that tell you where the closest dog park is, apps that track your dog’s every movement (handy if he’s prone to jump the fence), apps to arrange a doggy play date and even apps to organize your pet’s veterinary appointments.

But for those of you with particularly bored cats, don’t worry—now, there’s an app for that, too. Several, actually, as it turns out.

I have a very specific memory of my crazy cat, Joe, as a wee youngster. It was during the Summer Olympics of 2004. That year, there was an exhibition sport of competitive trampoline jumping. I’m not kidding. I’m also not kidding when I say that my cat, Joe, was OBSESSED with this sport. He would sit captive in front of the television, head bobbing up and down as he tracked the athletes’ jumps, occasionally taking a swipe at them.

It is this same feline fascination with moving objects that drives their interest in games created specifically for them. From catching mice and fish, to tracking down virtual laser pointer dots, these feline friendly iPad games are the cat’s meow.

These apps simulate your cat’s prey drive and keep them interested by engaging them with sounds when they’ve caught their prey. And even if you can’t teach an old dog a new trick (you can, by the way, but that’s another story), your cats CAN learn to play these games, be they young or old.

If you decide to invest the $0.99 it takes to show your cat a good time, keep in mind that not all cats are wired the same. Some will prefer one kind of game over another, and some may not like the games at all. Choose play time wisely—a cat who is trying to nap is obviously not going to be a good candidate for gaming. Instead, approach him with a new game when he is alert and seeking companionship.

Usually I write about pet health concerns and the like, so why am I spending so much time on such a silly topic, you might ask? Well, it all comes down to the importance of play. There is nothing so lovely as seeing the spark of joy on our pet’s face, and there is no better way to see that than to engage them in a bit of play. Bonus points for activities like this that work to foster the bond we have with our pets—the more time you spend with them, the happier you both will be!

Do you have a favorite pet app? Tell us about it in the comments below!