Sunday

High-tech nannies for fur friends

Pet camera Furbo is designed for dogs, allowing owners to see, talk and even toss treats.

Pet camera Furbo is designed for dogs, allowing owners to see, talk and even toss treats.

WE have all the cool gadgets like iWatch and VR glasses to make life more fun.

For cats and dogs, they are still mostly enjoying good old catnip teasers and frisbees. But if you wish to bring them the convenience of technology and modern lifestyle, some cool gadgets can help both the owners and their canine or feline friends.

Activity trackers

Humans can wear wristbands like Fitbit and Jawbone to track exercises and health data, and if you want to learn how your pets have exercised or rested throughout the day, some fitness trackers are now available for pets, especially for dogs that spend some time every day outdoors.

Pet activity trackers are generally lightweight, water and dust-resistant and long-lasting. They come with smartphone apps to help owners analyze the data.

Owners should be cautious when attaching collars to cats, because a collar that’s not breakaway-safe can strangle the cat’s when it’s playing or trying to get rid of the collar.

Here are some pet activity monitor brands:

FitBark is a dog activity and sleep monitor much like wristbands for people.

It has 74 percent five-star reviews on Amazon.com, one of the highest-rated dog trackers. Owners can set health goals in the app. The 8-gram device can fit dogs of any size and it’s waterproof.

The gadget is compatible with Fitbit, Jawbone, HealthKit and Google Fit, so dogs and owners can monitor progress and be motivated together. Price is US$69.95.

Petkit, a Shanghai-based tech company specializing in pet products, has a smart cat and dog activity monitor that’s water and dust proof. It monitors pets’ activity, sleep, calorie, mood and health. The generation two device is round, lightweight and tiny.

It can attach on regular collars easily. Price: 187-199 yuan on Tmall; US$79 on Amazon.com.

Petalways is a smart pet e-pendant that monitors the pet’s activity and sleep. It has three lighting modes and adjustable colors to make the pets visible and safe in the dark night. Price is US$19.99.

Whistle 3 is an all-in-one GPS location and activity tracker for dogs that tracks the pet’s rest and activity and send email, app or text alerts to owners when pets leave their safe zone. It’s shock-resistant and waterproof, with a battery that lasts seven days.

Automatic toys

Although cats spend most of the day sleeping and licking their fur when the owners are away for work, but sometimes they can still be a bit boring.

Or if you are at home trying to get some work done but the cat is constantly interrupting and wanting to play, automatic cat toys like laser, mouse and teaser can help keep the cats busy.

FroliCat’s Flik automatic cat teaser throws a string to entice the cats to chase after and catch. The small device can fit in any home environment and has an adjustable timer. It requires 3 AA batteries and no external power. Price is US$19.95.

FroliCat also has Pounce cat teaser that automatically moves a mouse forwards and backwards in a round pan, which sells for US$39.99.

Because of cats’ nature to seek anything moving under a surface, Petlinks System has a mystery motion electronic activity cat toy that replicates movement of hidden prey.

Owners can control the action by adjusting the four speeds and it’s battery-operated. The broken wands can be replaced as well. Price is US$21.49.

SmartyKat has a feather whirl electronic motion cat toy that erratically spins feathers that fascinate the cats. It has unpredictable play pattern to keep the cats interested. Price is US$7.49 on Amazon.com

There are many interactive laser cat toys available on the market that encourage cats to chase after the red beams.

For dogs, fetch machines or ball launchers are available to shoot toys out automatically so the dogs can entertain themselves without help from people.

A lot of dogs have learned how to use the launchers themselves by bringing the balls back.

IFetch is one of those. It’s an interactive, on demand ball launcher that lets dogs play fetch. This large gadget can shoot full-size tennis balls and runs on built-in, rechargeable battery.

But it’s quite expensive at the price of US$199.9. It has received mixed reviews on Amazon.com (34 percent gave it five stars and 22 percent gave it one star).

The iFetch Frenzy is a mini version that shoots small balls randomly, it’s much cheaper at US$33.61.

Other brands include the iDogmate ball launcher (US$229), the Max Launcher dog ball launcher (US$44.99) and the PetSafe automatic ball launcher (US$149.95).

Feeders

Because a lot of dogs and cats are left with a bowl of kibble when the owners go to work, it’s not easy to monitor and control the amount of food they eat as well as the frequency of the meals.

Automatic food dispensers have solved this problem, these pet feeders can release preset amount of food at designated times.

Some of the more advanced dispensers can be controlled by an app on smartphones.

For owners who wish to make their cats more active in seeking food, interactive food dispensers can encourage the animals to use their natural instincts when hunting for the food.

Doc & Phoebe’s has an indoor hunting feeder for cats that prevents boredom as the cats can find the hidden mouse filled with kibble.

A starter kit including a feeder, a trainer, a feeder skin and a scoop sells for US$24.99 on docandphoebe.com. Owners can buy multiple feeders and hide them around the house to encourage the cats to hunt. A box of five is US$49.99.

PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer is a toy that dispenses treats or kibbles when the cats roll the toys around. It has a screw closure that’s adjustable to determine how quickly treats are dispensed. Price is US$5.99.

Pet cams

A lot of pet owners choose to install one or multiple surveillance cameras to see what the pets do when they are alone at home.

There are many brands to choose from, including the basic cameras with flash memory or cloud storage or the ones designed specifically for cats that offer more cool functions.

Some pet cameras including the Petkit (499-599 yuan on Tmall) can not only monitor the pets remotely via Wi-Fi, but also shoot lasers to entertain them.

There are more advanced cameras like Furbo (US$199) that’s designed for dogs, allowing owners to see, talk and even toss treats wherever they are.

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