Being a pet owner is a huge responsibility. Your furry, fluffy, or scaly pal can take up a lot of your time, and worrying about them may take the shine off any time you spend outside the house. Tech companies know this and release gadgets to make life better for you and your companion.
Some pet gadgets help with chores like feeding, while others are just for fun. A gadget might offer a simple solution to a common problem, while others are bizarre but still useful. So if you need to bring some excitement into your dog, cat, or bird’s life, read on. We have the best gadgets pet owners can buy in 2022.
Setting up a webcam to keep an eye on your pet is nothing new. While looking after an animal can be a full-time job, it’s impossible to be there 24/7—so the ability to check in on your furry chum when you’re out of the house is invaluable. But why stop there?
Remote treat dispensers take things to the next level. Not only can you keep an eye on your cat or dog, but you can interact with and reward them too. This is particularly useful if your pet likes to spend its alone time hiding somewhere private; the promise of a treat may coax them out for a quick welfare check.
Furbo is probably the most famous auto-treat dispenser. It comes with a wide list of features, including Alexa integration, push notifications when your pet starts barking, and a night-vision camera. Other manufacturers have gone a bit further, designing treat dispensers that can roam around the house. If a treat-dispensing RC tank isn’t for you, another has been designed to look like an owl—which terrifies me, so who knows what it would do to my neurotic border collie. Probably best off sticking with a Furbo.
Lots of dogs love to play fetch. And while they can happily spend hours chasing a tennis ball and bringing it back—it can get a bit tedious for the humans involved. So that’s why we have automatic tennis ball launchers.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just a case of unboxing the launcher and leaving your dog to it. You will have to show Fido how it works. On the plus side, how it works is quite simple. A tennis ball is dropped into a hole or hopper at the top of the launcher, then, a few seconds later, it flies out of the front. Distances vary depending on the model; a hallway is a good option for some launchers—more powerful models might require a garden. Some models allow multiple balls to be pre-loaded, so you can benefit from a ball launcher even if your dog doesn’t grasp the concept.
Ball launchers tend to cost between $100 and $200. If you have a 3D printer and know your way around a Raspberry Pi, you can even make one of these yourself.
Although pets can’t read clocks, some of them seem able to know when their exact feeding time is right down to the exact second. It becomes a problem if that time overlaps with a work Zoom meeting, a night at the theatre, or an evening nap. So if you don’t want to be woken up by hand licks, paw thumps, or a cat knocking something heavy off a shelf and onto your head—invest in an auto feeder.
Several auto-feeders are available. Some of them work with wet food; others require dry food. Different feeders offer different timings too—while one might be designed to dispense a single day’s meals; others may keep your pet fed for a week. Certain feeders will play a pre-recorded message to call your pet to dinner; some have built-in cameras so you can keep an eye on your fluffy pal at mealtimes. Electronic auto-feeders will also dish out exact food portions, a major advantage over gravity-based systems.
The flashier models also do more than dispensing food at a set time. If your house has a fat cat that desperately needs to diet or a greedy dog that won’t leave your other pets’ meals alone, you can buy an automatic food dispenser that only opens for one particular pet. There are also auto feeders for fish; if you don’t want to make a friend keep your aquarium going when you leave on vacation.
No, we’re not talking about letting your Roomba declare war on your feline friends—though that is possible. Many robotic options are available if you don’t want to sit there for hours with a laser pointer or need something to keep Mr. Whiskers happy while you’re out of the house. This is the cat version of the dog’s automatic fetch machine.
Most auto-lasers involve a tower with a cat head-shaped ball on top. Several similar designs tend to be priced between $15 and $30, but the higher-end models have different settings and tend to be motion-activated. There is also an auto-laser on wheels which is the standout pick. If your cat makes a noise or nudges the “Vepnanline Rechargeable Cat Ball Toy with Feathers,” it will roll off at a pre-determined speed while mewing, dangling the aforementioned feathers, and shining a laser around. What’s not to love?
Our feathered friends are intelligent creatures. They can mimic human voices, solve puzzles, and form opinions on works of art. However, despite their IQ, birds are pretty easily amused. Simple objects like a cuttlefish, mirror, or piece of rope will provide them with hours of fun—so there’s no point in fitting an old iPad to the side of their cage like a wall-sized bird TV. Birds don’t even need high-tech automatic feeding and watering systems—gravity does all the work.
There is still tech that can improve your and your birds’ lives. Not all birds are built for winter; some are native to the tropics, while others fly south when things get chilly. Your pets are no exception, and there’s a chance your thermostat is set a little too low for their liking. Enter the smart pet heater. It can keep your bird’s cage nice and warm all year around. Several options are available, like the automatic one below. They emit a safe, steady heat over a wide area or allow your pet to huddle up when they need a little extra warmth.