Being a pet owner can be hard work. Making sure that your furry friend is fed, watered, exercised, and up-to-date with its vaccinations can be both time consuming and expensive.
Most owners (myself included) would retort that the love and compassion that their pet provides more than makes up for any downsides. Nonetheless, secretly I think we’d all admit that a little helping hand every now-and-again would be very much appreciated.
Thankfully, technology now has the ability to step up and help you out. Here we take a look at six automated pet products that’ll make your life that much easier…
Unlike dogs, cats can be self-sufficient for long periods of time. If you’re going on a vacation you can just leave lots of dried food inside the house and leave a cat to its own devices, safe in the knowledge that when you return your cat will still be alive and well.
The one caveat to this is their litter box. Garfield is a creature of habit, and if you’re going to let him use cat flap while you’re not at home, you’re going to need to make sure that his toilet area is frequently cleaned and refreshed.
The solution is the CatGenie self-cleaning litter box. It doesn’t come cheap – costing around $225 – but the features make it well-worth the price tag.
The system will automatically wash and sanitize itself, it is odor and germ free, and it has multiple settings that determine how frequently it flushes. Garfield will be in heaven.
If you’re a dog owner, then you’ll recognize this situation. It’s cold, dark, and wet outside, and Fido has suddenly decided that it’s the perfect moment to play a game of fetch. Any responsible owner knows it’s vital to give your dog plenty of exercise – but wouldn’t it be nice if sometimes that didn’t mean that you had to exercise as well?
Step forward the iFetch. Suitable for small to medium sized canines, you just plug it in and the device does the rest. Get Fido to drop the ball into the top, and the machine will fire the ball up to 30 meters. It’s highly durable so you don’t need to worry about Fido knocking it over or trying to eat it for lunch, and due to its size it’s also portable.
The only problem? Can you train Fido where he needs to put the ball?!
It’s not just four-legged creatures that can cost their owners a lot of money. Having tropical fish swimming around a tank in your lounge might seem like a great idea – but once you add the cost of cleaning products, filters, food, and water changes, the bill starts to add up.
Unfortunately, if you don’t want Nemo to catch a nasty bug, you need to stay on top of such chores.
Avo, which was funded on Kickstarter, is scheduled to start shipping in December 2015. It claims to be the “only fish tank in the world that requires no filter cleaning or water changes”. It works by collecting the ammonia discharge from fish, turning it into nitrate in the self-maintaining filter, and then feeding it back to the plants that help to keep the water clean.
Like dogs, cats also need an element of excitement in their lives. They are born predators, and love nothing more than to chase, paw, and attack anything in their path. That could be a small bird, a ball of wool – or a robotic mouse.
Mousr is another Kickstarter project, and like Avo, its developers have an end-of-year shipping date.
The gadget is designed to mimic a cat’s natural prey. It has sensors along its sides that will recognize a cat’s paw, a 360-degree camera that’ll allow it to dodge the cat, and a computer chip that will learn your cat’s methods of approach over time and thus make it better at avoiding being caught.
It is expected to cost around $100 at launch – but at least it’ll save you money on reupholstering your sofa.
According to statistics, 10 million pets get lost every year. Being torn away from Fido or Garfield can be a traumatic experience, especially if you never find them again.
Thankfully, there are now smart collars on the market that will reduce the chances of you being permanently separated.
One device is the Tagg GPS Pet Tracker. It uses GPS, an accelerometer and cellular wireless technology to provide you with the exact location of your pet at all times, and has the ability to alert you via text or email if they stray too far from home. It’s especially useful if you live in the countryside and give your animal free reign across a large area.
It also syncs its data to a smartphone app, allowing you to see exactly where your pet has been all day and giving you an insight into whether or not they’ve done enough exercise to stay fit and healthy.
You don’t want a fat Fido. It’s bad for his joints, bad for his heart, and bad for your wallet. You and your dog both need to keep fit.
A great all-round solution is the Whistle Activity Monitor. It aims to give you the tools to stop Fido losing control of his belly with a simple collar attachment.
When you’re on the same Wi-Fi network as the collar, all the data it collected during the day is synced to a smartphone app. The app will allow you to set customizable fitness goals, monitor meal times and meal sizes, keep an eye on medications and vaccines, download charts to track long term trends, and participate in the social aspect of dog health via the Whistle Community.
The device costs $99, but should last a long time – it’s waterproof, shockproof, and “ruggedized”. The battery lasts seven days and is recharged via a special USB port.
What Devices Do You Use?
Have you dragged your pet into the age of smart devices yet? Which devices have you used? Which did you like? Which did you hate?
Perhaps you prefer to stick with more traditional “parenting” techniques?
Whatever your situation, we’d love to hear about it. You can let us know your stories in the comments below.