Review: Juvenile felis catus
(OK, it's a kitten.)The first of April, 2003. Last modified 03-Dec-2011.
While domestic cats are a common feature of many computing environments, IT review sites have proven oddly unwilling to investigate this popular computer room accessory.
I aim to redress the balance with this review, which is almost entirely not just an attempt on my part to troll for more traffic from search engines by using the word "pussy".
An immature member of the species felis catus (also known as felis domesticus, and hereafter referred to as "a kitten"; the commonly heard expression "cat larva" is technically incorrect) has many advantages compared with equipment and organisms more frequently purchased, or otherwise acquired, by computing enthusiasts.
Also, kittens are warm.
Few computer hardware retailers also sell kittens. If you find one that does, you may actually just be having a weird dream. Check for flying monkeys.
The kitten market is, however, pretty much saturated. If you're not picky about the shape and colour of kitten you get, you can pick one up almost anywhere. Upstanding individuals who don't desex their cats, despite having no interest whatsoever in breeding them, keep the standard configuration domestic shorthair market well supplied.
Purebred cats, some funnier looking than others, can cost hundreds of dollars; that's the price you have to pay, though, if you specifically want a cat that'll try to join you in the shower, eat small dogs or look good in your underground lair.
Since the nearest RSPCA office is about 25 kilometres away from where I'm living now, though, this latest kitten came from the place down the road.
Kittens are not typically provided with more than a cursory Getting Started Guide, and often come with no documentation at all. Adequate manuals are available online.
NOTE: The notion that kittens can be fabricated by throwing an adult cat at a cyclone wire fence is unsupported by evidence.
Those unready for a genuine kitten (above right) may find a facsimile of one (above left) an easy way to gauge their comfort level with the concept.
Note that establishments retailing facsimile cats are unlikely to offer trade-in services, should you decide to upgrade to the other kind.
Remember: A pottery kitten is for life, not just for Christmas.
Modes of operation
On no account should you approach a kitten in Active Mode. When primed, as this one is, for battle with the wily and elusive Bit Of Paper On A String, Ping-Pong Ball, Piece Of Bubble Wrap or Plastic Ovoid From The Middle Of A Chocolate Egg, kittens are deadly. Trifle with them and you may be savaged and eaten at any moment.
Gravity is no barrier.
If you must play with a kitten, employment of a laser pointer will allow you to maintain a safe distance.
I'm not joking, you know. This was the last we saw of the chair on the left.
A kitten will, however, enter this standby mode for most of each day. During this period, it is safe to approach, and will consume no food and little oxygen; you may wrap it in a blanket with impunity.
Note that kittens in standby mode still emit noticeable heat. This is normal; no efforts to cool the kitten with fans, heat sinks, water jackets or chilled Fluorinert immersion should be made.
Beyond food, water and occasional medication, there's no need to worry about cleaning your kitten. It ought to take care of the job itself.
Note to the squeamish: Yes, this means it'll lick its privates. Don't pretend you wouldn't do it too, if you could.
Any interest your kitten exhibits in other cleaning devices is not to be construed as an invitation to close them and turn them on.
Compatibility with existing hardware
No significant points of incompatibility have been found between the new kitten and my existing equipment. A box with some old cables in it has been slept in. My monitor and mouse pad have been sat on. My keyboard has been walked on, but not seriously enough to justify intervention.
NOTE: Kittens do not have any computer-compatible ports. Don't try to plug anything into them. I'm serious.
Also: If you're waiting for me to make some kind of "mouse" joke here, you can just keep on waiting.
Compatibility with existing cats
I have not yet tested this feature, because I have reason to believe that the older model available to me, and the kitten, would not possess any common communication protocols.
I based this presumption on a cursory physical comparison, repeated in visual form below.
I kid you not.
UPDATE: Since Mickey, the kitten in question, has now, grown well and truly up...
...he now looms over Thomas. Compatibility has thus been safely tested, and found to be poor.
Mickey's compatibility with two-years-younger Joey, however, is excellent.
The review kitten was provided with this comfortable and secure box with a hole and a towel in it. He slept in it when he was still too frightened to come out of the kitchen. That lasted about three days.
Now, his preferred kitchen sleeping spot is the gap between the microwave oven and the wall. We've just put the towel there, instead. The heck with it.
Bear in mind that, against all evidence to the contrary, kittens are not able to transport themselves through solid objects by means of teleportation, osmosis or matter rephasing.
For this reason, when your kitten vanishes without trace and does not respond to any silly noises you make, and has not been given an opportunity to run out the door, it is important to check all paper bags, partially open cupboards...
...and blanket-storage wardrobes, before panicking.
Comparison and conclusion
Herewith, a rundown of the relative merits of four options for the computer enthusiast - a kitten, a puppy, a baby, and (as a representative example of the more usual kind of home information technology purchase) a new video card.
New video card
(assuming case dust filters are effective)
|Buries own dung||Yes||No||No||N/A|
(unless cooling fan bearings are failing)
|Multiple rendering pipelines||No||No||No||Yes|
|Can be shut up in kitchen overnight||Yes||Yes||Yes, until someone finds out||Sure, if you like|
|Climbs screen doors||Yes||No||No||No|
|Likes to eat bugs||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Number of favourable scores:||11||6||2||3|
The kitten, however, is obviously the better option.