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Inspired by the Cat Tin Warmer [linked].
This is a remote controlled or intelligently roaming mouse that
incorporates a "dead mode" switch, which, when activated, opens the
mouse up revealing the cat food you put in it earlier, the idea being
kitty hunts it down, slaps it about a bit until
food is revealed (perhaps
splurged like guts).
Can either be remote controlled to make feeding your cat more fun, or
programmed to work independently, like a Roomba (or flocking road
cone) but enjoying dark spaces and not moving when it can hear
sound. If it detects kitty (perhaps with an RFID collar on the cat) it
Clean up might be irritating, especially if kitty makes the killer blow
under the kitchen dresser, but it will keep your cat's natural instincts
alive. They do this for tigers at the zoo, to an extent, why not kitty?
[theleopard, May 20 2009]
Step 4 - Hide treats (at London Zoo the zookeepers drag the meat around the enclosure to leave a scent trail before leaving it at the top of a tree) [theleopard, May 20 2009]
A touch bigger than this
With a compartment for cat food. No compartments for bees, or jam. Also, should be slightly furrier, I feel. [theleopard, May 21 2009]
||I like the idea but something a little larger than a mouse
might be better for two reasons. A) something larger allows
for a top opening with the food exposed without spilling, and
B) something large enough that the cat doesn't try to
swallow it whole.
||Oops, I was actually envisioning just a big mouse for those precise
reasons, but entirely neglected to include it! Cheers.
||Although, you don't want it too big that it can't fit under any furniture. It
needs the ability to hide. Otherwise you'll need to build fake mouse
holes all over the place.
||I would build one right now if I had an RFID chip and knew ALOT more about remote control :)
||You could fill it with cheap microwavable fois gras.
||Already available: Some years ago I bought a simple cat toy which behaves very much as described but with less complication.
The mouse is clockwork. When hit, it trundles off in a pseudo-random direction for a couple of seconds then stops again. It has the usual collision/steer mechanism (castoring drive wheels) and has a space in it's back for a couple of small cat treats (not enough for a meal, though).
||I could envisage a smarter version which might be capable of returning to a base station where it can recharge both power and food. Also possibilities for automated control of cat nutrition and different RFID tags for different cats so as to prevent the greedy bastard from next door scoffing the lot.