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".

Altitudinous snoozing

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.

Here in Australia, the RSPCA sold me my previous kitten (he's turned out well, unlike some) for $AU50, which included everything up to and including desexing.

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.

Cat options

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

Huge and ferocious

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.

Self-adhesive cat

Gravity is no barrier.

Feline gymnastics

If you must play with a kitten, employment of a laser pointer will allow you to maintain a safe distance.

Chair combat

I'm not joking, you know. This was the last we saw of the chair on the left.

A purple polyester cloud

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.

Self-cleaning creature

Note to the squeamish: Yes, this means it'll lick its privates. Don't pretend you wouldn't do it too, if you could.

Mission of exploration

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

Decorating a desk

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.

Size comparison

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.



Eyes in the gloom

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.

Lurking menacingly

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.

Compression of kittens into smaller spaces, even for transport, is not recommended.

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...

Four star luxury

...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

Cute Yes Yes Arguably No
Furry Yes
(some exceptions)
Yes No No
(assuming case dust filters are effective)
Buries own dung Yes No No N/A
Talks back No No Eventually No
Purrs Yes No No No
(unless cooling fan bearings are failing)
Elegant Yes No No Arguably
Coordinated Yes No No N/A
Multiple rendering pipelines No No No Yes
Chases tail Yes Yes No
(some exceptions)
Can be shut up in kitchen overnight Yes Yes Yes, until someone finds out Sure, if you like
Smells bad No Sometimes Often No
Climbs screen doors Yes No No No
Likes to eat bugs Yes Yes Yes No
Number of favourable scores: 11 6 2 3

Clearly, and despite competing opinions, a kitten is substantially preferable to a puppy. It's also, incidentally, obvious that a new video card is 1.5 times as desirable as a baby.

In their favour, babies can be made at home and offer superior resale value.

The kitten, however, is obviously the better option.

Give Dan some money!
(and no-one gets hurt)