The enormous popularity of Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS handheld system has opened the floodgate for other “pet sims” – games designed for people who want to take care of a virtual pet without the real-life time and money commitments.

Kitty Luv lets players adopt a kitty of their choice and interact with it in real-time while looking after all its basic needs such as feeding, brushing and petting.

It would seem to be a fun concept, however Kitty Luv is ultimately an unsatisfying experience due to the shallow and repetitive nature of the gameplay. Possibly cats just don’t make very engaging virtual pets because they often prefer to do their own thing in real life, too.

The player starts by choosing a male or female kitty from one of eight different breeds (Siamese, Russian blue, tabby, American shorthair, Abyssinian or Persian), giving it a name, and bringing it home.

The game takes place in and around the house in several different rooms where various tasks can be performed. For example, the kitty can use the litter box and get fed in the kitchen, take naps and use the scratching post in the living room, and play with various toys in the “play time” room.

The kitty has six statistics that represent how happy, tired, clean, hungry and thirsty it is, as well as how badly it needs to use the litter box. These stats all have to be maintained by interacting with the kitty in various ways, including petting, brushing and playing with it, giving it food and water, and leading it to the scratching post or the litter box.

You can also travel to the pet shop to purchase food, new toys, and a variety of hats, anklets and collars to dress the kitty up in. Buying the laser pointer toy unlocks a new exercise room in the house, and buying the digital camera unlocks the girl’s bedroom, where you can take photos of the kitty in various cute poses and store them in a photo album.

Of course, all the trinkets you’ll be buying for your cat cost money. You only get a paltry weekly allowance, but you can earn a little extra money by playing a mini-game where the kitty chases around some toys which you control with the mouse in a game of keep-away.

Unlike Nintendogs, where you could take your dog for walks, enter various competitions, teach it complex tricks, and play with a wide variety of different toys, Kitty Luv is severely limited in how you can interact with your pet. The keep-away mini-game is extremely elementary, and the exercise room mini-game is just a carbon copy of it that uses a laser pointer instead of a toy mouse/ball/yarn. Sadly, it’s also one of the only times you’ll get to interact directly with the kitty, aside from brushing and petting it.

Kitty Luv’s biggest flaw is that there simply isn’t all that much to do. Having a bigger variety of mini-games and more ways to interact directly with the kitty would have helped.

Perhaps some of Kitty Luv’s issues stem from the fact that cats by and large aren’t as playful as dogs, so the range of activities available for a virtual cat are more limited – you wouldn’t see people taking their cats for walks, entering them in obedience competitions or playing fetch.

Granted, the kitties in Kitty Luv do look pretty cute and cuddly, but their range of movements and expressions aren’t enough to hold interest for any significant length of time – and given that so much time is spent simply watching the kitty walk around, this is a significant concern.

Parents can at least be assured that there’s no inappropriate content in Kitty Luv whatsoever.