Collecting certain objects like toy cars, seashells or even butterflies seems like a pretty common hobby to have. But what about collecting photographs of animated cats? During the past few months, I have noticed several of my friends playing this Japanese virtual cat-photographing app called Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector and become completely obsessed with it.

In fact, well-known news outlets like The New York Times, CNN and The Harvard Crimson all reviewed the app and ended up with the same result: They were obsessed with collecting these virtual cats, too. 

After becoming surrounded by the news of this cat-photographing game, I decided to try it out myself. I had to find out why this game was so entertaining. 

Breezy, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

Breezy sits smiling inside my cardboard box.

A slow and skeptical start

After the app finished downloading on my phone, I was eager to learn how the app works. The tutorial was very short and simple. You get your very own backyard, complete with five furniture spaces and a tiny rectangular food mat, a camera and a cat book to store information and photos of each cat that you see. The goal is to photograph up to 49 different cats that will come to your back yard at random times. In order to attract these cats, specific furniture and food items must be placed in your backyard. These items can be purchased using the gold and silver fish currency you receive in the game.

The app almost seemed too easy to play. But after the tutorial finished, I couldn't wait to get to work. I bought my first batch of Frisky Bits, a yellow cushion, a blue bucket, a ball, a brown paper bag and cardboard box. 

After these items were set, the only thing left to do was wait. The cats only come to the yard after you closed the app. So, I waited. Opening and closing the app every few minutes to see if any cats had decided to show up, only resulted in me becoming slightly annoyed with the app and deciding to take a break.

A few cats, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

More cats finally start showing up in my yard.

I returned hours later excited to find my first cat, Breezy, an orange and white kitten with two black stripes on his head, squished into my cardboard box. 

Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

The cat lounging in the lower right hand corner is Tubbs.

Patience is key … along with making sure the food bowl is full

During the next few days, I was constantly checking to see if any new cats had shown up. I would get lucky and find a few each day, but I figured out that I might just find more cats if I spaced out my time playing the app. 

It turns out that this strategy also seemed to have a downfall. Although I found out that several new cats had been playing in my yard, I didn't see any during the moment I arrived. 

I didn't understand why there were no cats in my yard until I noticed that the food bowl was empty. Sure enough, several cats returned after I filled it, but the real issue was that it would empty so quickly, and I was about to find out why.

Tubbs, who is one of the first rare cat encounters of the game, had eaten the entire bowl of food. Although he was sleeping adorably next to the empty yellow bowl when I found him, he prevented more cats from arriving until I filled it up with more food.

After this discovery, I decided to purchase a new brand of food and furniture to attract more cats. This time it worked. My yard was nearly filled up to the brim with cats.

From this moment on, I became hooked on the game. Now I see why my friends, as well as reporters, were raving about this app. It was fun and exciting to be able to discover new cats and expand my cat book.

So in addition to enjoying the game, here are just a few lessons that I learned playing Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector for a week: 

  1. Like the ones we encounter in real life, these virtual cats will come and go as they please, no matter the type of food or furniture you have in your yard. 
  2. Always make sure your food bowl is being replenished because you never know when Tubbs is going to show up.
  3. Updating the brand of food and furniture in your yard periodically can help attract new cats. 
  4. When wondering whether or not you photographed a certain cat, take one anyway. If you take a duplicate photo of a cat with one of your objects, you can always delete one. However once you exit the yard, the cats can stay or leave as they please. Don't miss them if you can.

Final thoughts about Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector

I will admit that after playing this game for a week, I fell absolutely in love with it. The simple idea of the game along with the adorable graphics creates a fun, relaxing environment that only you get to control and enjoy. The app is free to purchase in both Apple's iTunes Store and Google Play Store. Although you can purchase more golden fish inside the game, the currency you earn from cats visiting your yard adds up quickly enough to buy many of the store's items. 

Overall, I would say that this app is totally worth the download. It doesn't take up too much of your time, and it doesn't fail to maintain its entertainment factor. 

Have you played Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector? Let us know what you think @VoxMag.

Madelyne is currently a Digital Editor for Vox Magazine. She was previously a reporter for Vox Magazine and the Columbia Missourian in 2015. Feel free to contact her via email at mcmn87@mail.missouri.edu or Twitter @Madelyne_Maag

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