My cats tested this weird board game from Indiegogo – here’s what they thought
Even the most contemptuous of cats will crack a smile.
As you will know from previous reviews, I am the human servant to the four cats who own my house. My role as a human servant is a varied one.
I’m required to accompany David (cat) to the food bowl before he will commence eating. As a servant, I’m required to allow Lesley to try and put her head inside my mouth when I wake up every morning. Sylvia likes to come in and go outside as she pleases, but only when the door is shut and I am eating my dinner. Tina is particularly interested in clawing the carpet directly outside my bedroom. In an echoey hallway for twenty minutes at a time. At 3 am. They rule the roost and I love them for it.
However, I decided I needed to turn the tables. It was time for my feline friends to repay all the shit-scooping, vomit-cleaning, midnight food-bowl escorting, and constant feeding I provide. “Four legs good, two legs bad”? Screw you, you tetrapedal little dictators. It is time for us humans to rise against your razor-sharp claws and yell “ENOUGH.” Or just ask if you’d help us review a new techy cat toy. Which I did, and they replied with a resounding silence (Sylvia even looked away in disdain). Here’s what the kitty-cats thought of the Cheerble Board Game and Ball, currently on Indiegogo.
Note: As this is a crowdfunded project, the Cheerble Board Game we are reviewing is a prototype. The final product will have a synthetic panel over the top for added durability while retaining the cardboard walls and baseboard.
All a-board the fun train
If you have pets and you like to indulge them in frivolous entertainment options, then you may have heard of Cheerble. Their Wickedbone is a smart chew-toy for dogs. Their Wicked Ball is an autonomous sphere that is great for dogs and cats to play with, unaided by humans. The Cheerble Board Game is the latest crowdfunding campaign from the brand and it aims to provide all in one entertainment for your fur-babies.
There are two options available for the baseboard; a maze and a billiard-table style set-up with four “corner pockets”. My cats tested the “Maze” variation. A hollow, high-sided tray with a partial cover. This partial cover contains holes through which a cat can poke its paws during playtime. The cover also has a very bendy wand with a bell and a pom-pom at its tip, for additional hunting-led fun. The base is familiar, as it is actually a corrugated card scratching board, about 1.5-2 inches thick.
Aside from the pom-pom and bell, the whole board game follows a cardboard construction. The exterior sports some fetching adhesives to add color and character. All cats agreed that they liked the smell of the board. However, they couldn’t tell what all the colors were because they are red/green colorblind. They also heavily suggested adding catnip to the equation, the bunch of little tweakers.
It’s mainly about the balls
The board also comes with a ball and it is this that pretty much makes the game. The Cheerble ball is a smaller variant of the Wicked Ball. It can perform various maneuvers such as spinning, jumping, and rolling. This is thanks to the small internal dynamo that will spin at varying speeds. The ball also contains a sensor that will recognize when it has hit a wall, setting the ball off in another random direction. When asked, all cats stated firmly that they enjoyed the range of modes that the ball uses to keep them entertained.
It has a synthetic fur coating and an LED light strip with three color indicators. These indicate the “intensity” of the game. A green light indicates a “gentle” workout with the ball kinda meandering around the board. A purple light indicates “normal” intensity, which speeds the ball up a bit and makes it jump around more too. A red light indicates an “active” mode or, as Tina renamed it, “violence” mode. This really sets the Cheerble ball off for high-octane cat japes. Obviously, all of the cats preferred violence mode as it was an opportunity for them to “let rip”, as Lesley so eloquently puts it.
Obviously the ball requires power to run the dynamo. With this in mind, there is an internal battery that needs charging. The micro-USB port is located underneath a rubber seal, which also acts as the power button. If your cat stops playing with the Cheerble ball, it will stop moving around, which conserves the battery a little. The ball offers four hours of continuous play, at which the cats scoffed as they sleep for eighteen hours a day, spend four hours outside, and have to fit eating and crapping into their busy schedule.
What is the human verdict?
First off, I need to give some insight from a human perspective. This game board from Cheerble alone costs $59 (Australian dollars, so about $40 USD). I can see the eco-friendliness of this, I really can. Plus I can see how it is a safe substance for my cats to play with and on, without risking harm. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that cardboard is easily destroyed by cat claws. Hell, that’s even the intention with part of the game board! I can see some suggestions for improvement, here.
OK, so $40 is pretty darn steep for a scratching board. What would be nice is if the base was removable. It could simply slide in and out of the rest of the frame, meaning that the shelf life of the product is extended. If it was possible to then buy, say, two new baseboards for $15 (USD) or so, then you’d have a product that you don’t need to throw away after a few weeks of heavy use from several sets of claws. Plus, you’d be eternally grateful when Fluffy isn’t wrecking the side of your family heirloom Chesterfield sofa.
I think the ball is the main selling point here. It works really well inside the confines of the game board. It works just as well set on the kitchen floor for the cats to scoot around after it. I really like the different game modes and I thought the intelligent wall-sensors was a great addition. That stops it from just rolling into a corner and staying there. Plus, four hours is plenty of battery capacity considering that your cat will rest between bursts of playing.
It the Cheerble board game a hit with the cats?
I received a very detailed 40,000-word report from each cat, but in the interests of word count, I’ll summarize here. They all agreed with my sentiment that the ball was the best part of the deal. Removing it from the tray and whacking it repeatedly against the door of a very hollow cupboard has become a commonplace nighttime activity. However, Tina has stated her glee at tearing holes in the scratching base with her claws. Both she and David have also said that they prefer to sleep inside the frame than anywhere else (something about “designated, clearly marked areas”).
In all, both myself and the cats like the product. However, we think it does require some improvements to make it a really cool product with a lifespan that matches the price tag. As I already mentioned, the baseboard needs to be replaceable with new boards sold separately (or one spare included in the box with the game). If you’d like a few more options to check out pet tech-wise, then here are the best pet gadgets that will make your life a whole lot easier.
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