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Yahzee and Oliver, the two cats of Katie Hampton, have been frequenting the shelf right above her PlayStation 4 and below her TV since she started playing ‘Stray’. Well, it has become the felines’ favorite spot since they get the best view of the screen from there. Ms. Hamptom, a resident of Los Angeles, is a 35 years old creative producer in a digital media company.
A little about ‘Stray’
‘Stray’ was released in July 2022. It has an orange tabby wandering in a desolate dystopian city. The cat is lost after getting separated from its pack. The player has to navigate it properly to reunite with their squad. The character is not like any other average animated cat. It yawns and scratches like a regular cat.
The storyline of the video game ‘Stray’ has humans disappear from the face of the earth. Now it is up to the cat to figure out where they have vanished. This tabby is thoughtful, tender, and even capable of love. It does not have many dark feline moments though. Except for scratching furniture, you will never see it executing rodents or plucking birds.
What do the cat lovers have to say?
Ms. Hampton is certain about her cats being convinced that the feline is the game is their mate. She said, “It’s like they want to interact with the cat. They kept touching the screen.” Ms. Hampton added, “The little one meowed back, which was really cute.”
Although Ms. Hampton has already finished playing ‘Stray’, she plans to play it again. She wants to spot any details she missed before and more importantly to have Oliver and Yahzee around. She said, “It’s a game that I definitely enjoy playing. But I love playing it with my cats.”
Social media is flooded by players with pictures and videos of their pets who seem captivated by ‘Stray’. While some tried to grab the fur from the digital cat, some other stationed themselves on a cough, coiled yet springy, ready to jump and play anytime the tabby appears on the screen.
One video clip has a Labrador bounce from one side to the other side of the living room trying to hunt down the orange tabby, who in return does not fear its canine counterparts.
A Twitter account by the handle @CatsWatchStray is collecting such footage after it became a huge trend. The account has amassed over 37,000 followers now.
As per Clare Fenelon, her cat Cricket just blocks the screen whenever she has ‘Stray’ on. This 22-year-old from Washington, DC., who is a physical therapist technician, protested, “I can’t see the TV when I’m trying to play.”
She further added, “Most of the time my cat pretends like she’s cooler than us and doesn’t want to hang out with me. But with ‘Stray,’ she was interested in what I was doing,” She excitedly said, “It definitely felt like a deeper bonding experience. She kept looking at me like, ‘What is this? You’ve got this cat trapped in your TV.’ ”
Understandably, with such huge popularity, the publisher must be minting money but California-based, Annapurna Interactive, refused to reveal sales figures.
It is not just cats who are relishing screen time nowadays. Even dog owners are trying a lot of things from having robotic vacuums to playing ‘Judge Judy’ on TV to keep their pets occupied and happy. The pets are not pleased with their owners leaving the house more often.
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Jason Danzelman said, “I think it’s a big moment for cat people.” This 34-year-old musician from London, England further added, “People think that cats are aloof and standoffish. But I’ve had affectionate cats.” He even shared a video on his social media of one of his cats playing along with the game.
In the video when the virtual feline disappeared, the real cat ducked its head below the TV to find where it went. He also said, “She just jumped up in front of the TV,” says Mr. Danzelman. “She was like, ‘Who is this? Who is this handsome boy?’ ”
Chris Nievas exclaimed, “I never really thought about how, in an apocalypse, cats would still kind of thrive, where dogs are so dependent on people all the time. Cats are resilient.” He added, “I warmed up to the cat really quickly. By the time the intro scene was done I was like, ‘They did a really good job with the cat.’ ”
Mr. Nievas is a self-proclaimed dog person and owns two of them. However, he is open to the idea of having a feline as a pet someday. However, he is a little skeptical of how his gods would react since he noticed that whenever he plays the game, Pearl, his Akita, starts barking at the TV. “I can barely play the game for 10 minutes without her getting excited,” said this 35-year-old who is working in the automobile industry in Toronto.
Watch the trailer on YouTube:
The famous cat behaviorist, Richard Kirschner, known as Jack Galaxy, to his viewers of “My Cat From Hell” of the Animal Planet series, uploaded a video on YouTube recently. He was seen playing through the first hour of ‘Stray’.
He said, “The lesson learned is that cats can have fun anywhere,” after noticing that the tabby casually knocked a bucket off a rooftop. As per his observation, many people playing this game are on the younger end of the cat-loving spectrum. And so, he said, “That breaks the stereotype of the crazy cat lady.”
Charity goes a long way
The company sent copies of the game to the Nebraska Humane Society in a charity drive. For a mere $ 5 donation, people were entered into a lottery to win a copy. The game otherwise costs $ 29.99.
The Nebraska Humane Society’s social media director, Brendan Gepson, was elated with the effort that raised close to $ 12,000. He considers ‘Stray’ to have served as like the coming-out party for cat lovers.
He said, “A lot of media shows cats to be just an animal you live with, but the cat in the game is kind of its own person. It has a lot of personality.” He further added, “It sounds weird to say, but I think the game makes people feel differently about their cats.”
Are you a cat lover too and play ‘Stray’? Let us know in the comments section below about your experience with your pets while playing the game.