The Neko Atsume Cats Are Laughing at You

They hold all of the economic leverage, and they know it.

Funny or Die

Last year, I wrote a post called The Economics of Neko Atsume that illustrated the dystopian economics of the adorable “buy stuff for cats and wait for them to pay attention to you” game.

(“Wait for them to pay attention to you” is kind of the essence of having cats, real or virtual.)

A new Funny or Die video suggests that the cats are well aware of their position in the Neko Atsume economy. The video itself appears to be safe for work—although I don’t know what the cats are really saying, since their dialogue is subtitled—but I’ve watched this a few times and sometimes I get a very NSFW trailer for Melissa McCarthy’s The Boss as a preroll. Wear earbuds.

I love the idea that these cats are going from yard to yard, using everything you’ve provided for them and then leaving you something of much lower economic value in return. You cannot win in Neko Atsume, although the game designers have cleverly removed “winning” as a game mechanic; even if you collect all of the toys, they just introduce new ones. Time to start saving those fish.

JUST LIKE LIFE, amirite? Not even “life with cats.” Actual life. You work, you get paid—often at a lower value than the labor and results you provide—and you immediately use what you receive to buy more food and household stuff. Some of us work for more than one employer, memorizing multiple companies’ favorite foods and toys, because we know we aren’t going to get enough silver fish from just a single source.

If you save up for weeks, as the cats explain and as Abigail Welhouse brilliantly described in On Neko Atsume and Lifestyle Creep, you might even be able to get a bigger yard.

You can, of course, quit Neko Atsume at any time. (I’ve stopped playing, even though I adore the game. I just got tired of saving and spending.) The cats won’t care. There’ll always be someone else to feed them, because they hold all the economic power and they know it—and when everybody quits, there’ll just be another game that comes in to take Neko Atsume’s place.

Try not to make any in-app purchases.

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