Cat Cams: New virtual playroom inside Midlands animal shelter

COLUMBIA (WIS) - You can find just about anything online these days, and now animal lovers have a new website to add to their favorites. 

Inside the walls of the 'Lake Purray' cat condo at Pawmetto Lifeline in Columbia, you'll find a new interactive virtual cat playroom called iPet Companion. It's the first of its kind in the Southeast, and there are only twelve other shelters that have the system nationwide.

Now anyone in the world can see and play with the cats who are waiting to be adopted from the non-profit animal rescue. "It's like your inside of the cat room," said Natasha Drozdak, the Director of Marketing with Pawmetto Lifeline. "It's great to be able to play and see their personalities."

An outsider may think the cat toys in the playroom are moving all by themselves, but the power of playtime is now in the hands of anyone who has a mouse. "As long as you have a computer and the Internet, you can log on and play with our cats," said Drozdak.

It's like 'virtual meow-ity.' "You log onto, you can click onto the system and then you will go into a queue," said Drozdak. However, if there are others ahead of you, she says you will have to wait your turn. "You may luck out and no one is playing at that time and you can instantly play right then," she added.

Once it's your turn to play, you have two minutes. There are three toys to choose from and you can press and hold the number of the toy which you wish to move. "You can reposition the webcam through the arrows on the control panel. You can also zoom in and out," said Drozdak.

The system stays live 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So when will the cats sleep? "We have cats in there right now, they don't even pay attention to it. So they'll sleep when they want to and they'll play when they want to," said Drozdak.

While it seems all fun and games, shelter officials say iPET has a greater purpose. "Current shelters who have this system have seen an increase in adoptions, awareness and even donations that help towards their animal care," said Drozdak. "So we have so many wonderful pets that are available for adoption here and to be able to promote them and give them more exposure, not only in Columbia, but across the world."

The iPet Companion technology was created by Reach In. The company donated the system to Pawmetto Lifeline. The system officially went live this morning.  If you're more of a dog person, Pawmetto Lifeline officials say there in the process of looking into systems for dog lovers, too.

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