It took less than twenty days for me to wish death on a cat that doesn't actually exist.
On March 5, my friend Summer posted this article about a cellphone game where you collect cats, "Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector", on her Facebook page. A few of us commented, and while reading the article I realized that a few of my other friends had Tweeted screenshots from this game. It sounded stupid, but it also sounded amusing, so I downloaded the game.
Seventeen days later, as several of us in the office were gathering for lunch, I used a minute of waiting time to check on my cats, and blurted, "God damn it, Tubbs!", because this happened again:
Tubbs, the large cat in the lower left, ate all of the cat food again.
I wish Tubbs would get hit by a car and die.
Games on my cellphone tend not to last very long. I've downloaded several, when I hear about something that sounds interesting. Candy Crush and Blossom Blast both got deleted the minute I reached a level where I could not progress in the game without spending money. Plague, Inc. lasted the longest. I got about halfway through, playing it without spending any money, but when I got to a point where I could no longer make progress, I deleted.
I spent $4 on Neko Atsume the first afternoon that I played it. I haven't spent any other money since then, and refuse to do so.
I spent my money on expanding my yard, so that I could put more things in it. In this game, you have a yard, and you put things in the yard to make cats come. You don't see the cats come or go; you just open the game and they are there or not there. If they're there and it's one you haven't seen before, you take a photo, and save it into your album of cat photos.
I have taken 45 photos of cats that don't actually exist.
Some of the cats are very ordinary:
They just look like regular cats, playing in the yard. Some of the cats, though, are more exotic:
That's Xerxes IX. He only comes to your yard if you have that little green cushion that he's sitting on out for a cat to play with.
Bob the Cat, the dapper little fellow with the walking stick and the hiking outfit:
only comes to the yard if you have that giant cat jungle gym. That thing takes up the space of two objects, so setting it out just to get Bob the Cat to come by is a bit of a sacrifice, although other, more common cats will also come and play on it. It's also expensive, and that's where Tubbs earns my scorn.
Each cat that visits leaves behind some fish. Silver fish aren't worth a lot, but gold fish are. (500 silver fish can be converted into 10 gold fish. That's how worthless silver fish are.) You can use the fish to buy different objects, which makes different cats come. After the cats come enough times, they leave a memento, which signifies that the cat loves you. Cats that have left you a memento also leave more fish each time they visit, so you want the cats that don't actually exist to love you and to visit often. Xerxes IX, for example, leaves me about 40 silver fish each time he comes. Snowball leaves about 5.
More fish means more objects means rarer cats means more fish means even more objects, in a neverending cycle. I need the fish to earn the hanging mouse toy that Senor Don Gato shows up to stab:
or the baseball for Joe DiMeowgio and the stump for Mr. Meowgi:
or the incredibly expensive glass vase that Guy Furry shows up to make ice cream sundaes in:
but sometimes I can't afford to buy those things, because sometimes I have to spend my fish on cat food, because Goddamned Tubbs shows up to eat it all. It would be one thing if Tubbs left behind enough fish to buy more food, but he never does, no matter what kind of food you leave out. He also only shows up when you're almost out of food. Most of the food comes in servings of three, and the expanded yard only has space to set out two servings at a time. You have to have food out, or no cats come. The minute I set out that last serving of food, Tubbs always shows up to hoover it, and then I have to buy more to refill the food bowl.
I hate Tubbs so much, which is why I yelled about him in the hallway the other day. My coworker looked at me, eyebrows raised.
"I can't believe you're playing that."
Yeah, me either.