We already have video evidence of cats catching rides on Roombas, so we know cats like robots. It was only a matter of time before the feline crowd got a robot of its very own. The Mousr from Petronics on Kickstarter is a sensor-laden bot built for high-tech cat entertainment.
Mousr is quite a bit different from the battery-operated toys you might find at pet shop. Even the fanciest of those tend to have a very limited repertoire of movements. Mousr is aiming to be light-years beyond that. The little mouse-shaped bot detects your cat's approach from any direction and reacts to being hunted by trying to escape. It has a hidden speaker to add an audio element to the chase. The Petronics team behind Mousr is working on developing a full-on AI system for the gadget so it can learn and adapt to you cat's style of play.
You can just set Mousr free on the floor and have your cat go after it, or you can take advantage of the Bluetooth connection and control the mouse with an app. The tails are interchangeable, so you can switch them out between a tempting string or a set of fluffy feathers. Petronics has built working prototypes, but is still developing the app and the artificial-intelligence algorithms for the device. If the project is successful, Mousr would be on schedule for a fall 2015 delivery.
Mousr has raised over $41,000 in pledges toward a $100,000 goal with 25 days left to go. It's not hard to convince a cat person to buy toys for their pets. What's a little more challenging with Mousr is the expense. The regular pledge price is $140 (about £88, AU$162). That's a lot of money for a cat toy, especially when you consider how most cats prefer the boxes the toys are delivered in to the toys themselves.
Still, Mousr is an intriguing proposition. It really could become the one toy your cat never gets tired of. If you're not shy about pampering your little fluffy-toes, then it's not crazy to drop as much into a cat-gadget as you would a human-gadget.