If there’s one thing the internet loves, it’s a cat. The latest kitty to send social media into a state of excitement is the star of Stray, the video game where you play as an adventurous moggy exploring a sci-fi city.
If you’re not a video gamer, or have maybe already finished Stray and are looking for your next kitty caper, the tabletop should be your next stop; there are plenty of feline-themed board games out there that are perfect for cat lovers.
Board games for cat lovers
From games where you play as magical moggies to brain-teasing exercises in herding cats and adorable card games where you simply aim to keep as many kitties happy as possible, board games have plenty to offer cat people beyond a box for their furry friends to sleep in for a few hours.
So give your cat a loving blink, place down a box lid they can curl up in and crack into these cat board games that will leave both you and your pet purring with contentment. (And if you don’t have a cat yet but plan to get one, please remember to adopt, not shop!)
1. Cat Lady
A cat board game about cat people, for cat people
Cat Lady lives up to its name as a cat-themed board game that’s ideal for cat people (of any gender). Simple and sweet, it’s a card game where players must collect kitties from a central grid of cards and aim to keep them happy by pairing them with food, toys and other treats.
Players draw cards from the central grid, collecting a complete row or column of three cards. The row or column they take is replaced, but the next player cannot claim the same row or column - as indicated by a cute little cat meeple that sits next to it - unless they chase it away with a spray bottle.
Players are looking to collect enough food cards to keep any cats they’ve collected happily fed, losing points for any kitties that go hungry at the end of the game. Toys and treats such as catnip grant extra points for collecting sets, while picking up lost cat posters lets the player find one of the stray cat cards - which still require feeding but grant bonus abilities and ways to score points.
Cat Lady is short and simple, but it will quickly find a place in your heart if you’re a cat person. If you’re a dog person or have already enjoyed Cat Lady and are looking for something new, there’s also Dog Lover, which introduces extra trick cards for a more advanced gameplay experience.
2. Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail
What if the world’s greatest detective was a cat?
You don’t need to be a master detective to work out the premise of Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail - a game named with the logic of why have one cat pun when you can cram in two?
That’s right: Purrrlock Holmes is Sherlock Holmes but with a cat in the deerstalker hat. The players are inspectors at Scotland Pound (clearly the pun effort ran out somewhere along the way), tasked with helping the kitty consulting detective chase down his nemesis, Furriarty.
In action, the game works like a cat-themed spin on Guess Who or Cluedo, with players trying to identify which of the animal suspects is hidden in front of them. By playing two cards to whittle down potential answers, the players must work out which of the suspects they have, as well as the number on their card - representing the time on a 12-hour clock.
Identifying suspects successfully advances players along Furriarty’s trail, earning them victory points to prove their deduction skills over their opponents. If the whiskered baddie reaches the end of the trail, though, everyone loses - making it a game of semi-cooperative competition.
Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail is a simple game that’s ideal for younger players, but it’s plenty fun enough for older cat fans too.
Buy Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty's Trail on Amazon UK.
3. The Isle of Cats
As simple as, er, herding cats?
Herding cats is famously easy, as they say. The Isle of Cats puts a puzzley twist on the classic idiom by tasking players with rescuing cats from their island habitat before the villainous Vesh Darkhand arrives and destroys their home.
It’s maybe a surprisingly dark setup for a game about rescuing cats, but The Isle of Cats keeps things light as players collect fish and use their catch to attract cats onto their boats. The cats are represented by tiles that must be carefully arranged, Tetris-like, around the rooms on the boat, ensuring that there’s enough room for kitty families to be reunited and score players the most points.
As well as their precious furry cargo, players can discover valuable treasure by covering maps on their ship and rescue the island’s Oshax cats. One thing players will need to watch for are rats, which will stay on the ship and lose points if they’re not chased away by the cats.
Despite its slightly downbeat starting premise, The Isle of Cats is a brain-teasing tile-placement game about rescuing cats and using your ship’s space efficiently to help animals - making it a deeply satisfying experience for cat fans.
Patchwork meets pussycats
Calico’s artwork is a cat curled up asleep on a soft quilt, and it tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the experience of playing this cat-themed board game. It’s a warm bundle of joy about two of the great joys of life: cats and quiltmaking.
Calico comes across as the meeting point between two-player board game classic Patchwork and a basket full of sleeping kittens. It’s as comfy to play as it is in theme; each turn, players place a tile from their hand on their quilt board, before drawing a tile to replace the one they played. Easy as that.
Sewing matching patterns together will let players add buttons to their quilt - earning them bonus points - while forming specific combinations of colours and patterns can attract cats to come and nap on their blanket. This earns you even more points and, more importantly, it’s just very cute.
With its heartwarming theme, simple rules and satisfying pattern-making, Calico is the perfect accompaniment to a Sunday spent in the company of cats. If you’re not already convinced, know that the rulebook even dedicates two pages to the game creators’ cats, so you can aww as you play.
5. Wizard Kittens
Magical moggies causing mischief
Cats and magic are a natural pairing, from Sabrina the Teenage Witch’s wisecracking companion Salem to Dungeons & Dragons’ tabaxi, Jiji of Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Meg and Mog.
Wizard Kittens once again unites moggies and magic, this time in the form of a lighthearted card game about clearing up escaped curses in a magical library. Players are the wizard kittens who accidentally unleashed the hexes, and it’s up to them to defeat the curses before Professor Whispurr catches them.
To do so, the players need to banish the curses by matching their required ritual components to the cards in front of them. They can add cards, shift them between rows and even swap with other players by casting spells, with the advanced version of the game giving each cat their own unique ability to use.
Although the players are competing to get the most points, they must also work together to get rid of the curses before Professor Whispurr appears, which changes the victory conditions and can spell disaster for players.
Wizard Kittens is a short, simple card game that features plenty of colourful artwork and an entertaining spin on set collection. If you’re looking for a cat-themed board game with an extra sparkle of magic, this might be just the thing.