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Mousr Review: The Most Expensive Cat Toy That Your Cat Might Actually Play With

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $150

Rare is the expensive cat gadget that your pet will play with more than the box it came in. But if there’s one accolade that Mousr’s earned in my time with it, it’s that my cats actually cared about it.

Mousr is a robot cat toy by Petronics that looks like a small mouse with two wheels instead of back legs and a small port where you can plug in a variety of tails. You can use it in remote control mode, where you wheel it around your floor using your phone, or you can set it to automatically play with your cat. Press a button in the app and Mousr will run around the room, flipping its tail, and entertaining your cat until it gets stuck, the cat catches it, or its battery dies.

As you might expect, it’s not a cheap robotic cat toy. At $150, it’s not easy to get past the sticker shock. Especially when you can get cat toys for just a few bucks, or wait until the next time you order something from Amazon and let them play with the box. So, if your cat is that easily entertained, is there any good reason to spend a bunch of money on a robot toy?

In a word: kinda! And that’s better than I was expecting when I tried it out.

Mousr Can Adapt to Different Cat Play Styles, and That’s a Big Deal

Setting up the Mousr was surprisingly easy. Just open the app (for Android and iOS) and, as long as your Mousr is nearby, your phone will automatically detect it and pair with it. The little guy squeaks to life and blinks to let you know it’s ready. It also catches the attention of your cats, who are now keenly aware that there’s something small making high-pitched noises in the house. Cats love to hunt small, high-pitched things and they tune right into the Mousr.

Almost immediately, you’ll notice that despite looking like a discount Transformer—appropriately enough, we named ours Rattrap—Mousr has a strong personality. Its blue light pulses calmly while it waits for a command. Activate one of the play modes and it will chirp to life,  its light will turning green. As your cat plays with it, it can get agitated, going from green to orange to purple to indicate to you how much it’s struggling. Of course, your cat doesn’t understand color coding, so Mousr will make little growls and rev its wheels to get away when it gets caught in your cats’ claws.

If all Mousr did was squeak and twitch like a mouse, though, it wouldn’t be very noteworthy. What seems cute and mouse-like to us can easily be ignored by an ambivalent cat. Fortunately, Mousr understands what cats find interesting: fluffy things that skitter, flick, bounce, and struggle just enough to make the hunt fun.

Mousr comes with three distinct automatic play modes. In Open Wander, Mousr scurries around the room, flipping its tail and encouraging the cat to chase. In Wall Hugger mode, it also scurries around, but tends to stick closer to walls. Finally, there’s Stationary mode where Mousr doesn’t move around very much, but it flips its tail back and forth a lot. This last mode is particularly useful for older cats who can’t chase as much but still want to play.

Mousr’s three modes appeal to young, energetic cats and older, slower cats alike.

One of my two cats fit this description. She’s almost old enough to drive a car, which in cat years means she’s about as eager to chase something around the kitchen as your great grandma is. For her, Stationary mode worked great. She tracked the fuzzy-tipped tail as it flipped back and forth in front of her, or swept along the ground. She stared transfixed, but didn’t chase. She batted at it a bit, and occasionally she’d catch it, but she did so with the minimal effort you’d expect of a cat her age. The Mousr conveniently let her play in one spot without overwhelming her.

My other cat was a different story. This one is still young enough to chase. In Open Wander mode, the Mousr would scurry to one spot, wiggle its tail just enough to get her attention, and then wheel away. Sometimes she would chase it across the floor. Sometimes she would wait for it to come within range and pounce. Sometimes she’d get distracted by a piece of nothing on the floor and forget all about the Mousr until it drove directly into her back paws. Regardless, it kept her entertained until either the Mousr ran out of charge or she did. Usually, the latter happened first.

For a Miniature Robot Mouse, The Hardware Is Remarkably Clever

Cat toys that look like mice are almost a dime a dozen, but Mousr’s hardware shows that its designers understand what it is about mice and small rodents and bugs that cats enjoy. It doesn’t just look like a mouse because it makes a good brand. It’s designed to emulate the behavior that catches a cat’s eye.

The tail is a core element of this design. On the rear of the Mousr is a small cylindrical plug where you can attach a variety of tails (did we mention that Petronics will sell you bundles of extra tails for up to $40 per pack? Yep, you spotted the extra revenue stream). This plug can flick all the way from rear to the front, flinging whichever tail you’ve attached just across the eye level of a sitting cat. Exactly the kind of movement they love to attack. Depending on the size of the cat, it’s even high enough to give them something to jump at.

The Mousr also has several sensors on its head so it can detect objects and obstacles around it. In some cases, this helps it avoid cords, shoes, and other things on your floor that it could get stuck on. I deliberately left a few things on my floor and while the little guy got caught a couple times, I rarely had to help it get back on its automated, scurrying way.

That is, I didn’t have to help because it got caught on an inanimate obstacle. I did have to save it from my cat more than a few times. The Mousr is programmed to spin its wheels and run about as long as it’s able, but if it detects that it’s not moving the way it intends, after a moment or so, it will shut down the program. Part of the shut down process is asking for help in its own squeaky way (also the app will throw an error saying the Mousr is stuck). Well, getting stuck tends to happen when a cat has a solid grip on your tail with both front paws and is frantically attacking it with both back paws.

More often, the Mousr got caught on my cat’s claws than on an obstacle.

In principle, this is fine. Cats are supposed to catch their toy prey every once in a while. If they don’t, they get bored and move on. In practice, it sort of undercuts Mousr’s the idea that this is a set-it-and-forget-it toy for your cat. It’s more of a set-it-then-reset-it-in-about-45-seconds kind of toy. On the one hand, you could argue that for just as much effort, you could use the direct remote control mode that lets you decide where and how Mousr runs. On the other hand, the automatic modes are good enough that it’s easier to just fix the robot when it gets stuck.

In fact, I found that while remote control mode was fun for me, in the same way that every remote control car was fun when I was a kid, it wasn’t a very effective mode for playing with my cat. It features one big control button that lets you steer and drive forward, with another button to flip the tail, and a third button to travel in reverse. This is fine, but it’s hardly nuanced control, and more importantly it required a little coordination to get right. Petronics says this mode helps you bond with your cat, but I don’t think my cat could really tell when I was controlling it. All it knew is that, in remote control mode, the Mousr’s reactions and movements were just a little bit slower. It was just better to use one of the automatic modes and be done with it. My cat was happy all the same.

If You Really Want to Spoil Your Cat, This Is the Way to Do It

So, does the Mousr do what it claims to do? You bet. I’m not normally impressed with cat toys, but there’s a level of thought and care put into the Mousr that I didn’t expect. Remote control robots are usually more appealing to humans and tend to scare animals, but this one was designed to be fun for cats first, and humans a close second. The fact that both my young, brain damaged cat and my sweeter, older cat enjoyed it is a testament to how well it works.

Does that mean that the Mousr is worth the money? That’s a harder question to answer. Some people adore doting on their cats and would spend as much on their pets as they would on a child. For them, a $150 price tag for a robotic toy wouldn’t seem that bad. I hate to admit, but that’s not me. If I saw this thing on a store shelf, I probably wouldn’t be opening my wallet for it.

And yet, once the Mousr was in my house, I found myself tempted to play with it a lot. My younger cat even gets excited when I put it on the floor. Whether that means it’s worth it depends heavily on how much of your budget you’re comfortable blowing on your cats. To be certain, any cat with one of these robot toys is even more spoiled than the average already-spoiled cat. But if you decide to indulge your feline friend, you probably won’t regret it.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $150

Here’s What We Like

  • Easy set up and activation
  • Delightful personality
  • Variable modes of play for young and old cats

And What We Don't

  • Expensive
  • Remote control mode is slightly awkward
  • Extra tails cost even more

Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read Full Bio »