The Doctor Cat logo.

Doctor Cat Review

Game: Doctor Cat
Genre: Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (also available for Steam(Windows), PlayStation, and Xbox)
Developer|Publisher: Headway Games | Afil Games
Age Rating: US E 10+ | EU 3+
Price: UK £4.49 | US $5.99 | EU € 4,99
Release Date: April 25th, 2024

A review code was provided, with many thanks to Press Engine.

Doctor Cat is a short jigsaw puzzle type of game about a therapist who is a cat, and all their patients are also cats. It’s a cartoony game with a colorful look that doesn’t really vibe with the subject matter.

The Gameplay of Doctor Cat

All the levels in Doctor Cat are a mix of jigsaw and sliding block puzzles. Each one has two difficulties: easy and hard, and the difference is the number of pieces. You select one piece, then a second piece and those two pieces switch places. Each picture has an outline to help you find the edges of the pictures. The patient talks about their problems more and more as you get closer and closer to completing the puzzle.

Doctor Cat An unfinished puzzle.
Doctor Cat is here to help you with your problems.

There are a total of twelve puzzles, each with two levels of difficulty, making a total of 24 puzzles to complete. The entire game takes somewhere between one to three hours to complete, depending on whether you just choose to play the 12 needed to see credits or if you want to play all 24. The timing also depends on how good you are at these types of puzzles.

The Look of Doctor Cat

Doctor Cat has a very cute, cartoonish look, and it doesn’t always match up very well with the subject matter. I understand the desire to soften something traumatizing, and if you keep that in mind, the game feels hopeful rather than making light of very serious subjects.

However, I can see how you could interpret this either way, especially if you are experiencing one of the maladies that are discussed. It’s a little bit disconcerting how Doctor Cat always has a goofy smile on their face as the cat on the couch next to them is talking about how they as so depressed, they have trouble getting out of bed sometimes.

Doctor Cat is sitting across from a patient in their office.
Is this hopeful or condescending?

I kind tend to look on the positive side of things like this; I think the developers had a positive idea here, but anyone looking to pick up this game should take a look at the screen capture above and think about how this might feel to play. It’s important when speaking about strong emotions and traumatic experiences to take care of yourself.

The Cons of Doctor Cat

The first thing I noticed as I started playing Doctor Cat was how loud the game was. Thankfully, it does have built-in volume controls, so I turned the incredibly repetitive, very loud song playing in the background down a lot. I also turned the separate slider for interaction sounds down far, too, but it didn’t seem to change the actual volume in-game very much. The sounds in Doctor Cat are not good, and I found myself muting the TV rather than listening to it any longer. The one song got old about 10 minutes into my playthrough.

Doctor Cat. A half-completed puzzle in Doctor Cat.
One of the puzzles in Doctor Cat.

There was one puzzle that was either the second or third puzzle that Doctor Cat gave me to solve, and the color of it made it feel impossible. The color of my cursor blended in so well with the picture that was in the background, it was so hard to tell which box I had selected. Like, which of these boxes do I have selected right now in the screenshot below?

An unfinished puzzle that is dark green with a dark green background.
Where is the cursor?

It was only one of the puzzles that gave me this issue, but it does make me wonder if the developers had anyone playtest it. It would have been nice to have a different color cursor for this one level. Besides that, though, Doctor Cat ran very smoothly and didn’t have any bugs or similar issues, so that’s a huge plus.

The Subject Matter is Heavy

An unfinished puzzle in Doctor Cat.
This cat lost everything due to a gambling addiction.

The subjects of each of the puzzles are as follows: work stress, a traumatic fall in a cave, anger management issues, worries about moving to a new city, lack of empathy and communication skills, overeating, depression, death, ignoring your friends, procrastination, gambling your life away, and feeling like you aren’t as good as everyone around you. Each cat is told that with therapy and talking through their problems, they can get better.

I feel like the developers had an opportunity to have a way of helping these cats feel better. Maybe generic advice for all of these issues? It does make you feel hopeful for all of these cats, but it also feels like something is missing.

This is a puzzle game, after all; the developers could have chosen literally any other topic, but they chose to show a therapist talking through very real issues. But it doesn’t feel like they are doing anything with that message.

Doctor Cat is sitting across from a patient in their office.
This is the advice that Doctor Cat gives everyone.

I don’t understand why Doctor Cat came at everything with such a generic response. For the depressed cat, the therapist could have suggested not just therapy but exercise and maybe medication for it. Taking medication for depression has always been the kind of thing people are ashamed of, and Doctor Cat could have made a point of saying that needing medication is not something anyone should be embarrassed about.

A cat is holding bills while his children crawl over him.
Wow, this is the saddest picture I have ever seen drawn in this cartoony style.

Instead, Doctor Cat seems to pull its punches in the last round, giving the same advice to every cat: keep coming to therapy, and I will be able to help you. It just feels a little bit flat, I suppose, as someone who has suffered through some of these issues, it left me feeling like they’ve been pat on the head rather than hopeful for any of these cats’ futures.


All the levels in Doctor Cat.
12 puzzles for $6 USD?

In all honesty, I was pretty disappointed with Doctor Cat. I like the idea, and the artwork is spectacular, but the execution is not amazing. If you are looking for a jigsaw puzzle-type game and you are willing to shell out $6 USD for 12-24 puzzles, I can recommend this game. The puzzles are pretty fun. However, the rest of the game, from the music to the text, kind of let me down.

A finished puzzle in Doctor Cat.
Poor cat…

I’m not sure how I feel about Doctor Cat. I am certainly not in love with it, and I know I am disappointed at what was missing, but I did have some fun with the actual puzzles. However, I’m not sure I can recommend this game.

Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure
I'm not sure

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