purrfect 10/10

Cats love Stray as much as their humans

Finally, cat representation in gaming!

BlueTwelve Studio perfected the cat protagonist. Stray, its animal adventure game set in a robot-filled future, stars a stray cat on a mission to find its way home. Critics raved about how the studio succeeded in copying the movements, mannerisms, and meows of real cats to an uncanny degree. In fact, cats seem to agree with how well they pulled it off! Cat owners’ feline companions are reacting to the game, proving they love it as much as their humans — or at least are interested in it.

Since Stray launched on July 19, gamers have started sharing photos and videos of their cats reacting to Stray on social media. Cats can be seen meowing at, pawing at, or just watching the screen as their humans play the game. Someone even created a “Cats Watching Stray” Twitter, which posts photos and videos of cats reacting to the game.

“Kiwi officially gives Stray a positive review,” one Twitter user wrote, sharing a video of their Calico slinking toward their television screen. Other cats, including a fluffy, fair-haired one named Zelda, raised their faces to the screen to watch up close. Some cats crowded with their siblings next to the screen or simply sat next to the television for support. In one instance, a black cat copied an NPC’s pose during a scene when another cat is watching the protagonist in the wild.

Even before the internet flooded with players’ cat reactions, Inverse writer Joseph’s cat, Moses, sat in front of the screen to prevent his owner from paying too much attention to another cat. One games journalist (cough, former Inverser Giovanni Colantonio, cough) even interviewed his cat about her experience with the game. She was chatty! Unfortunately, they didn’t have a translator.

Cats reacting to Stray is no coincidental phenomenon. It’s partially because the developers made the sounds so true to life that the cats are drawn to the screen. In an interview with Digital Trends, Stray developers recalled the triumphant moment when their office cats started reacting to the sounds in the game. It’s made so that real cats should recognize the noises from in-game animals.

“One nice moment we had in development is when the cats in the office started reacting to what was on our screens,” producer Swann Martin-Raget told Digital Trends. “Having the sounds of the cats in the game making them raise their head, and trying to interact with the cats in the cinematics … I think it was a nice indication that we were on a good path.”

Cats can also see images on screens, even if they perceive them differently than we do. According to BetterWithCats, a cat specialist website, they generally see the same image with less detailed colors because they have fewer cones in their eyes than humans. Many cats probably realize that the cats in Stray aren’t real based on their senses, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be engaged or confused by the similarities in their likenesses and voices.

Inverse interviewed Martin-Raget about the studio’s hopes and expectations for the game before its release.

“We weren't expecting the size of the excitement when we first revealed the game,” Martin-Raget told Inverse. “We were extremely excited to see all the people, especially the cat owners, reacting to the game and being super interested in what we're making.”

Martin-Raget emphasized that the team wasn’t planning anything grand for the future but would react based on the reception to its first game. “So this being our first game, we feel that the best course is to see what happens and react to this,” he said.

Now, all there’s left to do is watch as the audience reactions roll in. So far, it’s looking like a cat-ender for Game of the Year.

Stray is available for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.