Have you ever looked at your beloved feline friends licking each other and thought “Hey, I want in on that action”? Hopefully not. If my suggestion of it has made you gag, this is not the article for you. Leave now, before it gets weird.
If you’re still here, meet LICKI, the world’s strangest cat brush.
From the makers of smart cat toy, SHRU, LICKI hopes to be the cat gadget you never knew you needed. Essentially, it’s a silicone brush for your pet. It mimics the sensation of another cat’s tongue as you brush them with it. The quirky part? You put the other half of the LICKI brush in your mouth. By doing so, you approach your cat and, well, get licking.
The thinking here is that cats feel immediately soothed by being licked by other cats, so why wouldn’t they appreciate it if you’re doing it to them instead? We talked to Jason and Tara O’Mara, the husband and wife team behind LICKI to learn more about how it came about.
“We live with 3 cats who groom us from time to time. It felt only obvious to lick them back,” Tara says. “Jason cut out a tongue shape from a sponge, put it in his mouth and tried it on the cats, and they loved it. I then suggested we make it into a true brush to make the experience even better for the cats.”
LICKI has a mouth guard which means it’s pretty hygienic for you to use. There is no mouth-to-cat contact and your skin never touches the cat’s fur. It’s easily cleaned with soap and water, as well. As Tara explained, they used silicone for a very specific reason.
“Silicone tends to have a neutral flavor, and is used in many internal applications, including baby teething toys. We will be doing materials research to decide on the optimal silicone once we fund. A neutral taste will be one thing we consider when choosing the final material.”
LICKI’s been tested on nine cats from various households, and there’s been some pretty positive feedback so far.
“When used with the recommended approach, 8 out of 9 cats responded favourably,” Tara says. “At first, some cats don’t buy in and simply lay there, being licked. However, all 8 of them came around and started either nuzzling, rolling around for licks in their preferred position, or grooming the licker back.”
While it might still sound a little strange, surely even the most cold hearted cat owner has got to be a little tempted by a gadget that can bring such happiness to their pet, right?
SHRU took some time to be completed with the Kickstarter campaign reaching its goal in December 2013, but the toy not shipping until October 2015. The team has learned from that initial campaign though, and LICKI should be shipped much faster.
“The LICKI prototype is much closer to the final design than SHRU was before launching, which allows us to enter production more quickly,” Tara says. “We also have established a relationship with our production facility, so we won’t need time to source suppliers as we did with SHRU.”
That means that if you pledge today, you should receive your LICKI sometime in January 2017. The campaign only launched a few days ago, but its early bird specials have already sold out.
If this sounds like the perfect gadget for you, there’s time yet to grab the next tier up. A pledge of $19 provides you with one LICKI, with $35 snagging you an extra LICKI brush to share with a friend and their cat. It’s certainly unlike any other cat brush currently on the market, and sure to spark some interesting conversations amongst you and your friends. The campaign runs until June 27.