CM February 23, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 19

image Multimedia Cats: The Complete Interactive Guide to Cats.

Boulder, CO: Inroads Interactive, 1995. CD-ROM (PC and Mac), $24.95 US.
256-Colour monitor and 486 / 040 CPU recommended.

Subject Headings:
Cats-Interactive multimedia.
Cats-Juvenile interactive multimedia.

Grades 2 - 6 / Ages 7 - 11.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.

**1/2 /4



One should not be fooled by the seemingly diminutive size of the Serval. Its narrow frame and long legs give the appearance of a small body, but this animal maintains the survival skills and feline instincts of its larger (and better known) wild cat cousins. Able to run, climb and swim, Servals also employ excellent sight and hearing to hunt for food during any part of the day or night.

They prefer solitary and hidden lives, rarely seen by humans or other animals. They live in enclosed spaces, such as rock crevices, old burrows or among long thick grass. Hunted for their exotic fur, Servals have moved into sparsely populated regions for protection.

cat Multimedia Cats sounds like one of those no-fail titles publishers joke about (like, "Finding Your Diet Angels"). But of course it's really a CD-ROM aimed at elementary-age children. The content is nothing special, but Multimedia Cats works smoothly while managing to be informative and entertaining.

Children who just like cats, or wish they had one, will like the sections on domestic and wild cats. The information is not too detailed (the excerpt above is the complete section on Servals, for instance), but it compares well to introductory picture books. There are links to larger pictures, brief video-clips, and more detailed information -- "Feral Facts" for wild-cats, which include the latin name, the conservation status, and a "Fascinating Fact"; or "Ideal Breed Characteristics" for domestics.


Younger children will appreciate the "Loudspeaker" icon on these pages linked to an audio clip of the text read aloud (a male voice for wildcats, a female for domestic). In the longer and more detailed information -- on Feline evolution, for example -- in the sixty-four page reference section, there is no loudspeaker, but there is also good basic advice on selecting and caring for cats (that it's a good idea to have two cats to keep one another company if they're going to spend much time alone, for example), on cat illnesses and caring for your cat's health, and so on. There are also short, narrated videos on adopting, grooming, and training cats in the reference section.

The "Cat-Scan" section provides a computerized way of selecting the ideal breed of cat for prospective owners (based on factors like temperament, short or long hair, and affinity for children). The "World" section lets you locate breeds or species by geographical origin.

There is also a "Fun" page that includes quizzes and entertaining video clips of cats (kittens chasing their tales; cats morphing into one another) which also ought to amuse young ones.


Throughout, the CD-ROM keeps a sense of fun; there are plenty of puns, and there is a little mouse named Herman who shows up in unexpected places. Clicking on him triggers some odd or humorous result.

Multimedia Cats is a decidely American product; in the contacts for adopting a cat, for example, only U.S. organizations are listed. That aside, if Multimedia Cats is un-ambitious, it is also successful -- it's an accessible and pleasant title that will entertain young cat-lovers and provide some basic information for those a little older.


Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364