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Christmas Gift Guide
Culture

Connected cat toy lets you drive Fluffy mad over the Web

You no longer have to be physically present to play with your beloved cat. The iPet Companion HomePlay system connects an irresistible toy to the Web.

iPet Companion in a shelter
A shelter cat demonstrates the iPet Companion system. iPet Companion

There is a magical place called the Internet. It is full of cats. Most of these cats don't do anything. You just look at them. But some of these cats are interactive. These cats live in shelters and appear online through the power of iPet Companion, a system of toys installed in animal shelters. These remote-controlled toys are operated by Web viewers.

The joy of this is that anyone can go online and play with cats. Allergic to animals? No problem. Looking for a cat to adopt? See them in action and then go give one a forever home.

The original iPet Companion was designed for industrial use in shelters, but a Kickstarter project hopes to make a home version a reality. The iPet Companion HomePlay system consists of a smart wall adapter, a control box, a camera and a toy motor to attach all manner of bouncy, jiggly toys onto.

The home version functions just like the shelter version. You log on to a Web interface for your cat and control the camera and the toy to check in on your favorite feline. The connection is shareable, so your family or friends drive your cat cat mad, too. The smart wall adapter contains three outlets, so you can plug in extra devices like a treat dispenser or a water fountain.

There are still early-bird pledge slots left, but the regular Kickstarter price for a HomePlay kit is $189 (about £121, AU$239). A $1,999 (about £1,283, AU$2,530) pledge buys you a HomePlay system and donates an industrial system to the shelter of your choice. The project's $150,000 funding goal is almost $21,000 along with 34 days left to run.

We may miss our dear, sweet Fluffertoes more than they miss us, but that's why the iPet Companion is appealing. It's not the same as being there, throwing a catnip mouse around or wiggling a feathery wand, but it's the next best thing.

iPet Companion HomePlay
A rendering of what the consumer version could look like. iPet Companion