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Last year I had two cat related incidents - the first being that I ran one over in my car which was heart breaking, then a few months later a stray kitten decided she wanted to come and live with us. I was happy with this despite my allergy to cats (think I was subconsciously trying to atone for the cat I'd run over) but when we found out the little six month scrap was pregnant we had to give her to a local cat sanctuary. Thinking back now I'm relieved as with four children and a fella who works all hours we're not really in the position for a pet, the problem being that my five year old had fallen absolutely in love with the stray cat and was devastated when I came to explain to her why we couldn't keep it.
The sweetener came in the form of Lulu, an electronic walking kitten from FurReal Friends. We've had these FurReal toys before, or rather he older girls have, but never find them terribly impressive - Hollie is more of a 'soft toy' kiddie than either of her elder sisters however so I paid my £30 (and will not repeat the word I said when I saw this particular price tag...) and toddled off to give her her new pet. Hollie loved it instantly, I don't think it necessarily replaced the cat she'd thought we were keeping straightaway but over the past six months or so it's become one of her favourite toys - admittedly it's not something she plays with every day but when the mood takes her Lulu will come out of the toy box and she'll have a good hours play as part of a game or just for the sake of playing with the kitten.
It looks exactly as it does in the piccie above, a sweet looking black and white thing with proportions to suggest a kitten rather than a cat. She stands around 9" long and is 7" from the floor to the top of her head; this is the perfect size in my opinion as Lulu is suitable for children of three years and above so the compact size makes it ideal for the littlest of people to handle, while the dimensions (and the fluffy fur!) make it a reasonably substantial toy. The packaging is absolutely rubbish, I won't go into it too much but it's horribly cheap and nasty considering the high price of the toy and if I was giving it as a birthday pressie I suspect it would be massively hard to wrap due to the fact that it's bulky and has oddly placed angles. The cat is held in the box by way of two million wire twists (on my life, I counted them...) and it took me around half an hour just to release the toy, I'm pretty masterful by now at getting toys out of their boxes but this one really did take the proverbial.
Once released Lulu is ready to be played with immediately as she comes with batteries, I remember these 'included' batteries didn't last long but since replacing them with rechargeable batteries I'm happy with the level of power consumption and I've only had to charge them up again twice despite hours of play. It's surprising really as I'd have thought the walking aspect of the cat alone would have killed the batteries, but not so - and thank god really considering the price of batteries these days! The batteries live in a velcro covered battery pack inside the stomach of the kitten, you need a small screwdriver to get to the batteries but it's a simple job to replace them - the on/off switch is also located in this area, although is very small and fiddly so Hollie tends to leave hers on all the time.
The three things Lulu does is walk, purr/meow and pad her paws against you when she's happy. She manages all of these actions well and it doesn't take much effort on the childs part to get her going. I *hate* the sound of the purring as it's very realistic and I hate the purring of real cats too, Hollie loves to hear her meow and has learned to stroke her in just the right place to activate this highly cute sound. Lulu works like any other FurReal Friend, by way of sensors which need to be lightly touched in order to make the toy work. These are well placed so that it's a kind of natural place to touch if you were handling a real cat, all the sensors work really well and are responsive to the correct degree - we've noticed that sometimes to make Lulu walk you need to follow her and touch the sensor every five or six steps, this isn't always the case however and I wonder if it's to do with the fact that Hollie touches it so gently in the first place. It's not an issue and I suspect Hollie rather enjoys having to keep stroking and re-activating the walking aspect as otherwise there's nothing really to do other than observe the cat as she walks! The walking motion is good incidentally, it's not particularly cat-like but FurReal have definitely made improvements on the walking dog my older daughter owned eight or nine years ago which we renamed RoboDog as it walked so jerkily!
She often sits on the settee talking to Lulu as if she were a real cat, it's very sweet and I'm pleased with the toy if for no other reason that it gets Hollie's imagination going. My only complaint, and this is true of FurReal toys in general, is that they're not particularly cuddly and are in fact rather 'bony' feeling due to the mechanical parts inside. Hollie doesn't take Lulu to bed because of this which is a shame as I think she'd like to, it's not that the kitten is going to cause an injury but I'm concerned that it wouldn't be very comfortable to roll over onto and as Hollie isn't the best sleeper on the planet anyway this wouldn't be ideal. I've just asked her her favourite thing about Lulu and she said the soft fur, which is accurate as her fur is extremely soft and comforting, but she said (and this is from a five year old) that she wishes there was more padding so she could cuddle her properly.
I recommend Lulu if you have a child who wants a cat but can't have one for whatever reason. She's easy to work, lots of fun for kiddies who like this type of toy and looks fantastic - the price is a little excessive maybe, but in my experience we've definitely had our moneys worth as she's had dozens of hours play time and is even more loved now than she was when I first bought her.
Play with this sweet and soft kitty figure and she'll play with you! Put your new little friend on the ground and she'll walk right to you, just looking for some love. When you pick her up and pet her, she'll even purr and meow. And how will you know when she's the happiest she can be. She'll knead her paws - just like a real kitty!