Cat Wash is a quirky time management game that has you washing cats in a disco-themed pet salon. Pet grooming games are nothing new, but cat washing games are rare, combined with a theme that jumped straight out of the 1970s…well, the whole combination is something new.
While washing a muddy kitty, Susie wonders out loud if there’s an easier solution to keeping cats clean. Her groovy Uncle Oswaldo overhears, and invents Feline Wash-o-Matic — a cat washing machine that cats actually enjoy. At the center of this radical contraption is a disco floor that would do any disco queen proud. Thus, the Cat Wash was born.
To play, you need to bring employees to various stations so they can wash the kitty customers. Each cat will request a certain station, which is shown in a bubble over its heads. Drag a waiting cat to the conveyor belt. When it rolls passed a disco dancing employee who is waiting at the right station, the employee will pick up the kitty customer and make sure the cat is properly serviced. As the game progresses, you get more stations and upgrades, including a wash station, drying station, clipping station, flea dip station, brushing station, and finishing station. You can also add automatic stations to help you work faster.
Both employees and cats have patience levels. Upset cats will flee, while upset humans will go out for coffee on extended breaks. You need to manage both while playing. Cats have lots of preferences, and their happiness depends on meeting as many of their needs as possible. Each cat will prefer a handler of a particular gender, and each breed has its own peculiarities. Some hate water, and lose patience when taken to stations they dislike, while others are calm and tolerant of everything. No matter what all cool cats love to disco dance, and some catnip and a jukebox can do wonders for their mood.
There are other random factors to content with, like skunks and dogs which upset cats and workers, and the occasional rabbit brought in by an absent minded owner. Employees take sick days, and machines sometimes malfunction, meaning that your day to day tasks vary as you play.
Every four levels, you play a cat and disco themed mini-game, which includes games like slots, memory, and even a version of Hungry Hungry Hippos played with cats. These are quick, and can be skipped if you choose.
The game play is fast paced, but flexible. Cats are quite happy to dance the night away, so slower players can move all the cats into the disco and take their time while playing. Experienced players who want a challenge can set the difficulty level higher and try to earn an expert score.
The disco music and dance animations are amusing, and the variety of tasks and upgrades keeps things fresh for hours. It’s not your typical dash game, so the mechanics are fresh, too. The length is about standard for a casual game, although there isn’t a huge amount of replay value.
On the downside, it’s a bit rough around the edges. The controls can sometimes be finicky. It can take several attempts to move employees between stations, or to move cats on and off the conveyor belt. Uncle Oswaldo is sometimes referred to as Uncle Scotty, with no explanation. These are small things, but noticeable as you play.
For the most part, the art is alright, but it isn’t as clean or detailed as many other recent games. Some images, like Susie’s nemesis Maria and her goons, are inconsistent with the overall style.
Despite a few rough patches, Cat Wash is subtly addictive, and entertaining to play. There are many clever new components layered into the game play, which really make it stand out from other cookie cutter time management games with higher production values but less personality. It’s worth checking out for the novelty it brings to the genre.