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True Confession: I'm a Grown-Up and I Play a Cat App

Photograph by Twenty20

I'm not much of a game player, especially when it comes to my phone. I use it as a tool for the most part and I don't have a ton of free time to do mindless things on it, even if I wanted to. So, then, why the hell did I download a cat app… and actually care enough about it to play it?

Neko Atsume isn't an ordinary game, however. I swear it's not. Hear me out.

It's relatively simple, but it's so, so satisfying. The beauty is that you don't have to spend tons of time doing things to "get ahead" in the game, which is brilliant for those of us who don't have endless hours to tap on our phones all day long.

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So what's it all about? Basically, you feed your cats and provide toys they can play with. You can also give them comfy spots to hang out on. When they leave, they leave behind fish, which is the currency of the game, and you use that fish to buy even more toys or more pillows and fancier foods.

The goal of the game is to attract each of the available cats, and to spot them when they're actually at your "home" so you can snap an in-game pic. At some point (and it's completely random), the cats will leave behind a memento, which can range from a cicada shell to fancy jewels. The endgame is to not only "collect" each cat, but to have every single one of the little demons bring you a memento.

I know I'm not alone in this as a bunch of other moms in one of my mom groups also play the game.

While the game isn't time consuming, there are points of challenge, as some kitties are special and require special objects or they'll never come to your home. And some cats are pretty hard to get… namely a little cat called Peaches who is pretty shifty and shy.

This may sound dumb. It may sound childish. You may be calling me names right now. But those kitties are super adorable, especially when they play with their little toys, and dammit, why can't I get those last two mementos?

I know I'm not alone in this as a bunch of other moms in one of my mom groups also play the game. We compare who we have and how to get them, and post screenshots of our victories ("Yaaas, I finally have Frosty!")

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We discuss strategy, and whether or not the two newest special cats really give a crap about us and our fancy food or not. When an update was released weeks ago, we celebrated. We gave thanks to the app developers and saved fish to buy the adorable new crap available in the kitty store.

So, no, this game is not just for kids, and it's a welcome distraction from the daily grind of home, work, kids, and feeding my real-life pet. The app loads fast and I spend literally seconds at a time a few times a day refilling virtual cat food bowls.

Goofy? Maybe. Cute as hell? Yes. Dumb? No. And shut your poopy mouth right now if you even go there. My 42-year-old carcass loves these cats, and it's perfectly OK if you do, too.

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