Robocat - or Purr-minator?

By Whisky, the Black & White Cat

I notice that Hasbro has recently unveiled a robot cat to sit on the lap of an older person.

Robotic pet cat goes on sale and other tech news

I suppose they qualify the intended audience to limit it to people who can’t tell, or don’t care, whether it’s a real cat or not.

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It’s hard to see what’s new in all this. I suppose there is a spectrum of cat features which a human being either wants or doesn’t want. Furry muffs to keep the hands warm have always been available, and this represents a notional end-point on the spectrum. Potentially there’s a checklist of additional features: do you want your surrogate cat to meow or purr, use the cat litter tray or go outside through the cat flap, claw you when you upset it, get you up in the morning when it wants feeding, bring dead birds home? – the list is endless. I imagine what Hasbro has done is to add a few additional working checkboxes to the more popular features.

This gets me looking at Ian with new eyes.

Perhaps one day Hasbro will offer a robot human being to serve as a pet for the more discriminating cat – or the less discriminating one – take your pick. An essential feature on any cat’s list will be to open a can of cat food on demand, open doors which you find yourself on the wrong side of… um, what else? It’s an exercise like this which makes me realise how undemanding we cats are of our human pets.

But there’s a whole host of features I’d gladly uncheck, such as Ian’s propensity to indulge in arbitrary petty cruelties like sticking me in a cat-box and taking me along to the vet, turfing me off my chair when he wants to sit on it, even though there’s the whole floor available, blanking out the coal fire just when it’s glowing perfectly, shutting me out of his bedroom at night because he doesn’t want me in bed with him… There really is a very long list. So a robot human pet which would seriously commend itself to me would be conspicuous for what it didn’t do, rather than for what it did.

updated: 14:18 30/11/2015