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Tablet games for cats are touch-screen catnip

Friskies' three new tablet games just for cats greatly widen the feline sphere of influence over technology.

Cats expand their dominance of online media, expanding into tablet gaming, thanks to Friskies. Video screenshot by CNET/Eric Mack

Once humanity surrendered control of all online media to cats, it was just a matter of time until they started pawing at our tablets, too. And now Friskies is taking a leadership role in the emerging feline-gaming market with three new games made just for cats. Cat Fishing, Tasty Treasures Hunt, and Party Mix-Up are all available for the iPad and Android tablets.

The three titles basically play like a tablet version of the old arcade whack-a-mole, tempting kitties to paw at floating treats and fish on the touch screen. They're free, were created with HTML5 and CSS3, and can theoretically be played on just about anything with a modern browser, though they were designed with the iPad in mind. In my own hands-on tests of the Web version, the responsiveness of the fishing game was particularly cool--which is perhaps the most embarrassing product endorsement of my career.

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Friskies claims the games are based on research into cats' senses and their reaction to different stimuli. In other words, someone was paid to do what our parents always scolded us for--tease the cat.

"To develop these games for cats, we learned what truly appealed to them. Now we know their favorite colors, types of movement and their general game-play attitudes. We also found out that they cannot play pinball," Ryan Gass, assistant brand manager for Friskies, said in a release.

Even without pinball, these cats seem to be having a great time:

This isn't to say a boom in feline gaming comes without certain risks. Friskies says the bare glass screen of the iPad stands up to repeated clawing just fine, but the company warns "that a cat's sharp claws could damage add-on plastic film covers."

Perhaps most concerning to me is the image of half a dozen bleary-eyed cats wobbling over iPads at 4 a.m., surrounded by empty cans of Red Bull and piles of catnip--so much more disturbing than your basic dogs-playing-poker scenario. So please, limit Fluffy's screen time--unless of course you're encouraging her to explore her artistic side.