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The Isle of Cats

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Play OverviewPlay Overview

The Isle of Cats (2019) is a collecting game where you rescue cats from a doomed island by squeezing them onto your rescue boat. You play by collecting Tetris-like Cat and Treasure tiles and arranging them carefully onto your Boat board. It is a spatial puzzle where strategy is as much about being able to get the right shaped piece to fill awkward holes, as hoarding the most valuable.

There are lots of ways to score points, but the skill is choosing which to pursue and when. You start with Discovery cards that determine your missions and grant you Tetris-like Cat and Treasure pieces. The challenge is you buy more cards with your stock of twenty fish, so getting the best value is crucial.

You do this by placing your Cats and Treasure pieces strategically, to maximise points by ensuring groups of the same colour are next to each other. You also score points by perfectly filling rooms and covering up other squares on your ship. Your ability to use space wisely now whilst planning for the future is key to your success here.

As you progress through the five rounds your boat gets full and placement becomes more complex. You also earn other ways of scoring points alongside tessellating cats and treasure. After five rounds, the player with the most points is the winner.

It sounds complex, and really is. But at the centre of it all is a puzzle piece challenge of squeezing things onto your ship to escape. The game leans into this variety with the huge variety of Discovery cards in the deck offering endless ways to win. There are many games that involve fitting pieces into a defined space, but few achieve such an open experience.

Our examiner, Rob Prior, first checked The Isle of Cats 21 months ago. It was re-examined by Jo Robertson and updated 6 days ago.
Too complex for your family? There are lots of games similar to The Isle of Cats. Here are some easier younger-rated games:

Play StylePlay Style

This is a Brain Game and Collecting game with Puzzle and Strategy elements. You can play with 1 to 4 players in the same room. It is best with 3 players.

You can play this game in the following styles:


Learn to Play: This takes 1 and a half hours to learn. This is a complex game with a wide range of cards in the main deck. This means that you need to spend a good amount of time familiarising yourself with these cards, their costs and powers before playing your first game. You also need to have a firm grasp of the Ship board, as poor placement early in the game can have a detrimental impact on your ability to score points towards the end. You may be able to learn the game in one play through, but it may take you much longer to master.

Play Time: This game will take between 1 hour and 1 and a half hours to complete.


This game is good if you want to:

Age RatingsAge Ratings

Skill Level

10+ year-olds usually have the required skill to enjoy this game. Younger players need to have lots of patience to be able to complete a full game. They need to be able to make strategic resource management choices and deal with not getting the pieces that they were hoping to collect.

Content Rating

We rate this suitable for 3+ years-olds.


There are no additional in-game purchases, loot boxes, adverts or subscription costs.
There are a number of expansions including:
  • The Isle of Cats: Boat Pack (2022) - adds six new Boat boards
  • The Isle of Cats: Kittens + Beasts (2022) - adds three expansion modules.
  • The Isle of Cats: Late Arrivals (2019) - adds two Boat boards to allow six players. 

DetailsGame Details

Release Date: 01/01/2019

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Players: 1-4

Genres: Brain Game, Collecting (Puzzle and Strategy)

Accessibility: 40 features

Components: Bag, Board, Cards, Figures, Pen and Pad, Placeables and Tokens

Developer: Cityof Games HQ (@CityofGamesHQ)

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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