Website Allows Virtual Interaction with Cats Up for Adoption

Melissa Knowles
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Want a furry feline companion, but your living situation will not allow it? A new website, iPet Companion may be the solution for you. It allows you to virtually interact with cats in shelters across the country using a live-stream feed.

Here's how it works: You can move the camera to find the cats and then you use your computer to control a robot, which animates the toys set up in the room to amuse the animals. Once people connect, they get a two-minute session to control the camera and play with the animals. The site's suite of toys and webcams costs $345 for cats or $395 for dogs to buy and set up, and it is available only in animal shelters. Unfortunately, the system is currently sold out so shelters will have to wait for the systems to be back in production before they can get their hands on one.

So why is this investment worthwhile? IPet Companion claims to increase a shelter's Web traffic by a sustained 52%, and it says the cameras help increase adoptions. Participating shelters say they have seen a 67% rise in kitten adoptions since installing the devices. In its mission to "end homelessness of animals nationwide," iPet Companion appears to be well on its way.

The website currently has eight cameras around the nation, including at shelters in Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles. The live-stream is hosted by individual adoption sites. The company responsible for the interactive technology for humans to connect with pets, Reach-in, launched the first commercial installation of the technology for iPet Companion in May 2010.