I admit, I am a total sucker for all things cat-related. But Fox & Sheep’s new app Little Kitten (Fox & Sheep in partnership with Squeakosaurus, January 2017; iOS only) has a lot going for it besides the cute-kitty factor.
A brief (and optional) wordless video introduces our hero, a gray tabby kitten left on the sidewalk in a cardboard box. The ring of a bike bell alerts the kitten to a passing child, and the determined feline follows by tipping, scooting, and jumping the box to the child’s nearby home. This video sets the standard for the rest of the app with stellar animation — the kitten’s appearance and movement as well as the suburban setting are incredibly realistic. Well-chosen music and sound effects enhance the narrative’s emotional arc.
Following this intro, the app opens on a scene of the now bow tie–bedecked kitten in what is a clearly loving and devoted adoptive home: framed portraits of “Crumbs” grace the walls, and a set of four tiny rain boots and a tailed-and-eared slicker are among the family’s shoes and umbrellas. The settings menu (turn music and sounds off/on, set a timer to limit play) and locked links to Fox & Sheep’s App Store offerings and the Squeakosaurus website are cleverly incorporated into the pictures on the wall. There are also a few interactive moments to find on this screen.
Take Crumbs up the stairs to the child-owner’s bedroom to play. In addition to a wide variety of entertaining tap-to-trigger interactive moments (Crumbs rides on a toy ambulance and flies atop a model airplane, stuffed toys and wall decorations come to life, etc.) there are several lengthier activity sections. Pet or feed treats to Crumbs to elicit purrs. Play hide-and-seek, solve a matching puzzle, play keep-away with a toy mouse, or bounce on the bed to perfect Crumbs’s fancy trampoline tricks. A painting activity invites you to experiment with mixing primary colors, black, and white to create a masterpiece. Tap on Crumbs’s outline at any time to return to the main bedroom scene from any of these mini-games.
Tap on the bedside lamp or the windows (or if the timer you’ve set goes off) to darken the room, leaving just the lamp and constellations of glow-in-the-dark stars comfortingly alight, and Crumbs will curl up and go to sleep on the bed.
Throughout, Crumbs’s behavior is a combination of realistically catlike and relatably childlike. The app requires no reading and is fairly intuitive to navigate. With impressive visuals, warm humor, and lots of engaging surprises to discover, Little Kitten offers preschoolers a purrfect exploratory play experience.
Available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (requires iOS 10.0 or later); $2.99. Recommended for preschool users.