I'm writing this article with a large rescue cat draped across my keyboard (yes, it's hard to type). Not every feline is as fortunate to have a home.
Animal shelters have tried out kitty Webcams to boost adoption rates. AprioriControl is raising the bar with iPet Companion, interactive online kitten playrooms that put viewers in control of feathery, flighty, and fluffy cat toys.
The kitty playrooms are currently up and running at shelters in Idaho, Iowa, and Oregon. I stopped off at the site for the Clinton Humane Society in Iowa where kittens named Dori, Nemo, Marlin, and Bruce rolled, tumbled, and attacked the remote-control toys.
Each shelter determines certain play hours. You may end up in a short queue when you drop by to play with the furry critters. The toys are attached to motors. Push the button on your browser to make them dance and whirl.
When it's your turn, you also control the direction of the Webcam. A live chat box lets you join in all the ooing and cooing from other users. You'll see gems like: "they r sooo cute lookit the kittys look it look it." It's easy to turn into a pile of text-speak mush when you're watching kittens play.
Using the playrooms requires Silverlight, so a lot of mobile viewers are out of luck. It's not the prettiest interface, but the real stars of the show are the romping kittens.
The goal of the playrooms is to encourage adoptions. Think of it as a try-before-you-adopt sort of approach. It's also a good way to get a kitten fix if you can't have a feline of your own. Or if you're obsessed with cats. You know who you are.