German Invents Kitty Camera
Tomcat 'Mr. Lee' Takes Snapshots of His World
What do cats get up to all day? Jürgen Perthold was determined to find out and built a special cat camera which he attached to the collar of his tomcat Mr. Lee. It takes one photo a minute. The results give an interesting cat's-eye view of life.
Mr. Lee has the hots for the cat next door. She's sitting on top of the brick wall and staring at her two suitors, a skinny black tom and Mr. Lee, a chubby half tabby with a white chest and face.
Mr. Lee has a little camera attached under his neck. It was built by his owner Jürgen Perthold, a German engineer who lives in America and has just invented the first kitty-cam.
Mr. Lee only has himself to blame for Perthold's curiosity. The cat seems to lead an eventful life. Sometimes he stays out all day and comes home hungry with fresh battle scars. Some nights he doesn't come home at all.
"I wanted to find out what he gets up to, where he spends his days," said Perthold, who lives with his family in Anderson, South Carolina. "The cat has a lot of space to run around and there are some pretty remote areas here," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
Perthold is selling his invention for $30 in the US. It consists of a keyring camera called VistaQuest VQ1005 which weighs only 35 grams. He converted the camera to give it more battery power so that it can take one photo every minute for 48 hours.
Including the battery, the kitty-cam weighs 70 grams. "Mr. Lee is a pretty big cat so it doesn't give him any problems," said Perthold. "He objects a bit when I attach the camera, but after that he accepts it." That may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Lee can't get at it with his paws.
After trying out a number of different casings, he found that a cover of polypropylene, a type of plastic, worked best. Perthold wrote his own software to control the camera. He finally got the design right in April. "I couldn't wait to get the collar off and open the housing," he said.
Perthold was delighted with the results. What did Mr. Lee photograph on his travels? Pretty much what you'd expect, really -- pictures of other cats, a longing look up at a birdhouse, and the underside of parked cars where he meets his friends.