Animal Interactions

Warning: This post may destroy any credibility I may have. But it’s not all bad — I get to post a picture of my dog!

What does it mean for animals to interact with digital media? Do our pets care about our phones or computers?

Our dog Suki (@suki_the_dog) seems completely oblivious to screen-based media. Sure, she may paw at my laptop, but that’s just to get my attention. The TV can blast away and she’s obliviously happily sleeping right below the speakers. I’ve never sensed that she recognizes the images on the screen (let alone in a mirror).

The only time I’ve seen her react to the TV was for Toyota’s “Squeak Toy” commercial, where a couple drive around, squeaking dog toys in search for their loose pup. Every time the ad comes on, and the squeaking starts, Suki immediately perks up. And apparently she’s not the only dog that reacted this way. So along came the iPhone app iSqueek to make squeaky noises for your dog.

But these aren’t things that a pet would interact with.

That’s what’s so brilliant (or insane?) about Friskies’ GamesForCats — it’s iPad games for your cat! The four apps are “Here, Kitty Kitty,” “Tasty Treasure Hunt,” “Cat Fishing” and “Party Mix-Up.” And from the video it looks like cats really do interact with them.

Purina claim that the apps are “based on research of cats’ senses and how they react to different stimuli.” And their press release gives some more detail:

“The Friskies brand research revealed that cats are most intrigued by the intricate movements of objects as they wiggle or spin across the screen. Also, the range of colors a cat sees is much narrower than a human’s, so creating good contrast between the background and the playing pieces was crucial.”

That makes sense. Although when it goes on to say that they’ve learned cats’ “general game-play attitudes” it feels like a bit of a stretch. (Their sample size was eight cats.)

And Friskies isn’t the only company making apps for cats. Hiccup makes two cat apps: Paint for Cats and Games for Cats. Check out the tigers playing!

Conclusions? Cats are stupid. Dogs are smart.

Cat "art." Bleh!