Cats and humans have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for thousands of years. According to the Smithsonian, recent archeological finds in Cyprus put this number at 12,000 years. The theory is that when agricultural societies flourished, cats invited themselves in and people were delighted with the “pest control” they provided, and slowly, cats became domesticated.
Through the centuries cats have been worshipped and demonized, adored and, sadly, abandoned. Today, in the U.S. alone, cats are the most popular house pets, with more than 90 million domesticated cats slinking around. Nowadays, cats are Internet superstars with the likes of Grumpy Cat, Henri Chat Noir, Lil BUB, and Col. Meow, not to mention the comic strips and TV shows that feature cats and cat products. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Second Life® community has embraced pets… and cats.
Equinox Pinion, co-owner of KittyCatS with Callie Cline, saw a documentary on SL and logged on in 2007. Pinion began working with Dennis Lagan and Callie Cline to make a breedable cat that was unique from other breedables. “As cat and animal lovers, we decided to make our cats interactive with the same behavior as real cats.”
To that end, KittyCatS, KittyCats (127,110,21), offers several unique features including the ability to breed your own cats in their online cattery without using any prims in-world. “We were the first to offer sim-wide food that allowed all cats to eat from one food bowl. I think what makes our cats distinctive are the interactive features they have. They behave like real cats, you can play ball with them, ride them, pet them, walk with them and hold them. You can also dress them up with collars, hats and vests. In addition, we are the only cat breeder that allows customers to set cats to a low prim mode reducing them to a mere 2 prims.”
Pinion notes that technological advances in SL and new scripting functions have allowed better performance and more flexibility for KittyCatS. As for future plans, “we have so many plans and all of them center on making our cats as realistic as possible with more interactions… we love to surprise our community with new releases!”
Pinion believes that animals have become an important aspect of the SL community. “Our community is the most amazing in SL! Our customers create stuff for our cats and are the most friendly and helpful people I have met in SL. People really love our cats and that makes work so easy. So many of our customers can’t have cats in RL so our cats fill that void in SL. The biggest joy we get is to make people happy with our cats. People find friends, breed together, have little shops with their animals, go to auctions or just hang around together.”
Deborah Defarge, owner of We Love Pets, Eduisland 5 (140,23,21), a popular pet shop on the grid, echoes Pinion’s sentiment. “As in RL, people love to have a companion or something to greet them when they arrive home. Sometimes having a shoulder pet or cat by your side is a great talking point. I’ve made pets for people from pictures of their real life pets, sometimes ones that have passed away. Imagine their joy when their long lost pet can come alive again in a virtual world.”
Cats and the human community have a long history that transcends language and culture, a history that continues to evolve… in RL and online.
Written by Sita Writer and Photographs by Angeli Optera