Hacking for feline enjoyment

[Dino] is staying true to his goal of hacking one project every week. This time around, he’s working on a toy that will amuse and delight his cats. The project centers around a mouse house that has two holes where mice can stick their heads out. When they do, a little LED lamp illuminates their appearance in hopes to catch the eye of your lazy kitty.

The mechanism that automates this device is quite clever and reminds us of the most useless machine. That is, the armature that holds a mouse on either end actuates a limiting switch in the middle of the box when it moves to expose one of the mice. Each of those mice is attached with a rod, along side a leaf switch that makes the mouse retreat when boinked on the head by the cat.

It only takes [Dino] about six minutes to walk us through the build in the video after the break. What follows is a walk through of the wiring and some playtime with the family pets. Despite the intended purpose, it looks like the dog is much more interested than the cat. Either way, it’s a winner in our book.


  1. caleb says:

    yay kitties! now i need to build a robot that will feed, burp, change , and carry the baby around the house so my poor back can get a break!

  2. Steveeeee says:

    Love this!

  3. Dino says:

    @caleb Hey that could be a HaW project! lol

  4. IceBrain says:

    I love how the cat is completely uninterested. One does not simply force a cat to play!

    Nice build, by the way, simple and effective (and cute).

  5. Dennis says:

    I can see adding a motion sensor and reset timer. Keeping the mice in the house until the cat walks by. Then reset the mice after a certain amount of no activity.

    Vibrating motors in the mice might keep the cats attention once the mouse is out of the house.

    Very cool project this should be a product for retail. Cheaper then running the TV all day.

  6. anfegori91 says:

    Tesla Photo¡¡

  7. moo says:

    I agree making the mouse shake/vibrate will get the cat’s and dog’s attention better :) I thinking I’m gonna build something similar for my dog.

  8. caleb says:

    @ Dino

    im just gonna throw it out there, it should probably wash bottles too. and get my beer from the fridge! ill preorder mine now, thanks :-)

  9. What a wonderfully wellmeaning idea gone horribly wrong!

  10. Mark says:

    Very nicely done, Dino. I like that you did this entirely electromechanically: my own design aesthetic is frequently marred by an inability to find the simple solution hiding inside the complex one.

    I also think that you’ve discovered a universal of feature of cats: the more money (or time) you spend on a cat toy, the less likely they are to pay any attention. I’ve probably got $50 worth of cat toys scattered around, but the only one that Scrappy likes to play with is an orange shoe lace.

  11. I was watching Dino’s uStream feed on this as he built it and vibrating motors inside the mice was a planned feature, but they got burnt up in the integration process… so maybe they can be added.

    Yes this is a highly modifiable design, because cats love to play with all kinds of whiz-bang things.

    I say ADDZ SUM LAZERZ!!!

    Nice job Dino!

  12. corp769 says:

    Your soldering station looks exactly like the one that is used within the US Air Force ;)

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