When we first caught sight of Sega Toys' meowing, purring robo-feline back in January, we fervently hoped Lucky the robo-dog or some other bigger, stronger robot would come along and scare the creepy cat away. Or eat it.
Alas, that's not to be. Yume-Neko Venus -- that's Dream Cat Venus to you, gaijin -- is slated for a 30 July release, according to Sega (PDF in Japanese). The fake feline will cost ¥10,000 (about £70) -- not bad considering you'll be saving a bundle on kitty litter and toy mice.
The battery-operated robo-cat is equipped with five touch sensors that let it engage in real-life behaviour such as rolling on its back, blinking its eyes, moving its legs when you rub its belly, and, by the look of that picture, sitting cross-legged like it's watching soap operas and waving camply. Sega says the target age is 4 and above, or anyone who likes cats but can't have them due to allergies or co-habitating with animal haters.
The bot, which is modelled after the Norwegian forest cat, measures about 50 by 23 by 24cm, making it the size of a (smallish) real cat. As far as we can tell, it'll only be available in Japan for now, but if you see a white cat with oddly vacant eyes slinking around your garden anytime soon, you'll know robo-cat went global.
(Thanks to our CNET co-worker Takayuki Sakurai for helping us make sense of the Japanese -- the language that is, not the people.)