How to play

The Isle of Cats

The Isle of Cats is played over 5 days (rounds). On each day the cats will venture into the fields on the island and you have until nightfall to attempt to rescue them through 5 phases of play.

1. Fishing

Each player gains 20 fish.

2. Explore

Each player is dealt 7 discovery cards, they choose and keep 2, passing the remaining cards to the player to their left. They repeat this process 4 times, but the last time they will only keep 1 card.

You will then look at your 7 cards to decide which to add to your hand. The cost is in the top left corner of every card, and if you wish to keep a card, it must be paid for in fish.

You can keep as many cards as you like!

3. Read lessons

Every lesson card you kept must be placed face down on the table. Lesson cards are personal objectives allowing you to score extra points at the end of the game.

4. Rescue Cats

Now players take it in turns to rescue cats, each cat requires a basket and a number of fish. Keep going around the table until everyone has run out of baskets, fish, or passes.

When you rescue a cat, you must immediately place it on your boat, the first cat can go anywhere, but after that every cat must touch at least 1 previously played tile.

You will need to find a balance between how many cards you keep in the explore stage, and how many cats you wish to rescue in the rescue phase.

5. Rare finds

Finally, players will take it in turns to play Oshax and Treasure cards. Treasures offer smaller pieces to fill those tricky areas, and the Oshax are friendly cats that can act as any colour, they just want to have a friend!


After 5 days, you will earn points for completed lesson cards, rare treasures and families of cats (groups of touching cats of the same colour) on your boat.

However, you will lose points for each room on your boat which isn’t filled and any rats which haven’t been eaten!

The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game!


Find answers to frequently asked questions and get clarifications on how specific cards work here.

Find the answers


Watch The Isle of Cats being played and hear from independent reviewers about their thoughts on the game.

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  • Alia Norman

    2nd April 2024 at 12:27 am

    Do the colours of the cats on the rescue cards mean that you can only rescue that colour cat?


    • Frank West

      4th April 2024 at 11:23 am

      Hi Alia,

      They do not, any rescue card can be used for any cat.

      I hope this helps.

      – Frank


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