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Game for Cats does what it says, but it isn't truly free


I spend a lot of time trying to keep my cats off my iPad, but thanks to the The Daily What, we got wind of a game specifically designed to have your frisky felines play with your iPad.

iPad Game for Cats is a free download through the App Store, but the "free" part is very misleading. Even though the game's website and the App Store page say that it's gratis, you actually can't get anywhere unless you make a 99-cent, in-app purchase.

Edit (12 AM 12/21): The developer got in touch with me regarding this via Twitter and has since updated the app description to clarify that the mouse game is an in-app purchase. Thank you so much!

But, you do get a little time with the game, and there's only one way to test it and that's with a cat ... or in my case, three cats.

You get a choice between a laser pointer or trying to catch a mouse. Both feature large, simple colorful graphics designed to catch a cat's eye -- though I suspect it also works well for toddlers.

The goal is for the cat to "catch" the laser or the mouse by batting the iPad screen, which increases your game score. Because the mouse game ended too fast before requesting an upgrade, I switched to the laser pointer game and put my iPad at the mercy of my felines.

The result was pretty funny. At first, the cats didn't notice the iPad because they were too busy demanding that I pet them. They're also quite used to keeping away from the iPad, so they didn't quite get that I actually wanted them to interact with it.

But, my youngest cat finally noticed the laser beam and started batting at the iPad case itself. She spun the iPad around a few times, then managed to tap the screen itself. Then my oldest cat started playing the game. The middle cat just stayed away, but was watching the laser. I switch it back to the mouse game to see if they'd go for it. My oldest cat did, but wound up nearly making an in-game purchase when that game ended. I quickly switched it back to the laser, which gives you a bit longer before prompting an upgrade.

The verdict? The game does what it advertises, however it's extremely easy for your pet to accidentally make an in-game app purchase unless you've disabled that feature in your settings.

Cats will play the game, and it was pretty funny watching them bat a $500 machine around the living room floor ... until you remember the $500 part. So, when the level ended, I took the iPad back from the cats. Maybe, whenever I upgrade to a mythical future version of the iPad, I'll let the cats take over this one. For now, I'll stick to traditional catnip-laced toys.

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