At first glance, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector may look like a cute cartoony app for young kids to waste a few minutes of their day. Yet, it’s one of the few apps in my household that has the parents, teens, and my younger tween all hooked equally.
Free for both iOS and Android, the concept is so simple, that I hesitate to really call it a game at all. Just fill up a cat dish with some kibble, scatter a few toys in your little backyard and…wait. When you come back to check on your yard, you may find that the food dish is empty and some “gifts” have been left–which can be used to buy additional toys and food. Or, you may hit the jackpot and find a cat playing or sleeping in your yard. Congratulations! You have just “collected” your first cat.
However, like the real creatures, these cats are fickle and will come and go from your yard whenever they feel like it. Forget to feed them for a week? They’ll stay away. Check the game obsessively every five minutes? They may still stay away. But, remain patient, and you may even find one of the rarest cats, like Mr. Meowgi (ha) or Frosty pays you a visit, especially if you leave out their favorite treats and toys.
Created in Japan by Yutaka Takasaki, Neko Atsume’s appeal lies in it’s cute kawaii style illustrations coupled with a peaceful, zen-like gameplay that rewards patience and attentiveness, two qualities I think we could all practice a little more often. The bonus is that there’s never a litter box to clean.
You can download the free Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector app for iOS and Android. There are in-app purchases available, so be sure you’ve enacted parental controls before downloading this app for your kids.