A smart cat toy has been developed by Michael Friedman of Petronics. It is called Mousr. It looks like a large mouse. It is not a mouse with true artificial intelligence because our development of artificial intelligence is some way off. We have not arrived at it yet but it is a mouse which is meant to learn some of your cat’s hunting behaviour so that its behaviour is tailored to the cat. In addition you can change its appearance to a certain extent by changing its tail. This is meant to accommodate individual cat preferences with respect to textures, colours and sounds.
So we have a toy which takes the work out of playing with your cat. This toy, therefore, is designed for people who are too busy to play with their cat. Or, they get bored playing with their cat. Friedman makes a good point, which is that a major part of hunting for a cat is patience as exhibited in slow stalking. The cat can get a lot of fun out of just watching a cat toy moving very slowly. Managing this can get boring.
But, if we are to purchase a cat toy which does the work for us aren’t we disengaging from our cat and aren’t we removing a fun part of our relationship with our cat? In doing that we are, it seems to me, removing one reason why we like to look after a domestic cat.
It is a little bit like a woman who has a career. She has a baby and as soon as possible she returns to her work and hires a nanny to raise her child. She’s a busy woman and barely sees her child. She wanted a child but didn’t want to do all the things you have to do to raise a child which, in my book, makes it rather meaningless to have a child in the first place.
I equate that scenario with the concept of buying a cat toy which does all the work for you. Machines are taking over what the human should do. If you add into the mix a cat feeder which feeds your cat for you and then perhaps in the future we will have a cat litter tray which does all the cleaning for you, what is left for you to do in looking after your cat companion?
Yes, you can stroke your cat and occasionally and play with your cat when you have time. However, I’m not sure (and I’m happy to be corrected) that with respect to products such as this, which make cat caretaking easier, is a good route to take for the future. What do you think?
I would accept a device such as a fully automated cat litter tray that really did work because that aspect of cat guardianship is a chore. It is not something which gives you anything from the relationship. But feeding should be done by us because it creates a connection between cat and human at a basic level. It cements the relationship. The same could be said about play. Play is a major part of cat behavior and what a cat does in the day (when he is not snoozing or sleeping). We should be part of that, and those moments, if we are to have a full relationship with our cat companion.