Are you the type of person who enjoys bringing new technology into your home for fun, ease, or information? Is your cat the type of feline that enjoys techy-cat gear? If the answer is YES to both questions, AND you need to purchase something for your cat for the holidays or her birthday, then you will want to read this article before you start browsing websites with your smart-phone or voice-enabled shopping device!
My Favorite Tech-Inspired Cat Gifts
I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on an episode of Pet Lover Geek’s radio show about geeky gifts for dogs and cats. You can listen to the show here – I’m in the third segment – and if you have dogs, you’ll want to listen to the entire show! Or, you can head over to Pet Lover Geek’s website for a list of the products featured (for both dogs and cats) here. (Pet Lover Geek is a website for pet parents who are interested in pet product technology and news, so definitely check it out!) For my kitty friends and their people, I’ve replicated the list here with some additional information (including pictures and videos) so that you can decide exactly which of these tech-inspired cat gifts you want to geek-out over without having to surf the entire Internet! (Also, I’ve included a BONUS product that wasn’t mentioned on the radio show). Let’s get started!
Engaser Laser Toy – modmong.com
Meet the next generation of laser-pointer toys for cats! One of my cats, Abbey, is completely obsessed with laser pointers, but the batteries keep running out and I forget to buy new ones (or don’t even know what kind of batteries to buy). The Engaser, however, has that problem solved! It charges through a USB port, making this $17.95 laser pointer a toy that you can use for as long as you and your cat want. The laser-pointer is flat and ergonomically shaped, and comes in white or purple (I have the purple one). It’s a purrfect stocking-stuffer, if your cat has a stocking, which of course she does!
Kittyo WiFi Pet Cam – kittyo.com
If you are looking for a great interactive toy for your cat, buy this RIGHT MEOW!!! I was an original supporter of the Kittyo’s Kickstarter campaign and was soooo excited when I finally received my Kittyo. My cats were excited, too! The great thing about this pet cam is that it was made specifically for cats. It has a laser pointer and a treat dispenser, as well as a two-way speaker so that you can talk with your kitties. You can record video and take still photos, and use cat-related sounds (birds chirping and cans opening) to call your cat to come to the Kittyo if they are not in the same room as the unit. The whole thing is controlled by an app on your phone, so you can check in on, and play with, your cats any time, any where!
As a cat behaviorist, I believe that one of the primary drivers of cat behavior issues is boredom. Boredom leads to stress, and stress leads to behavior issues such as aggression, going outside of the litterbox, and destructive behavior. Many of us simply are not home enough to give our kitties the play time they need so that they get enough daily mental and physical stimulation. What I love about the Kittyo is that you can get your cat moving (my 17-year old cat Jesse loves chasing the laser pointer, so I don’t want to hear the excuse that your cat is too old to play!) and give him a treat no matter where you are (work, etc.). By doing this on a regular basis, you can help your cat act out the very natural and healthy hunt-eat-groom-sleep cycle. Plus, it’s fun! Fun for your cat, and fun for you. Win, win, right?
The Kittyo retails for $249, but I’ve got a special code – marci@fbs – you can use to get $10 off your purchase through their website. Yes, I benefit from this. But Kittyo offered me this deal AFTER they saw how much my own kitties and I were enjoying their pet cam! And since you’ll be purchasing the Kittyo anyway, you might as well help a girl (me) out by using my special code (marci@fbs), right? Right! I mean, you could be taking videos of your cats playing and eating treats, just as I did with Jesse and Momo in the videos below! Wowzers! 😀
SureFlap Microchip-Activated Cat Bowls and Doors – sureflap.com
Ok, there are TWO great products that SureFlap has, both of which I have recommended to my cat behavior clients. The first is a pet feeder, and the second is a pet door. Sound pretty standard, right? WRONG! SureFlap uses RFID microchip technology to provide access to both the bowls and doors, which means that if your cat has a microchip ID (which is standard in most cats that are adopted from shelters these days), you can take advantage of this technology that can make life a whole lot easier for you and your cat. How is this possible? Here’s the deal.
First, there’s the Microchip Pet Feeder. The feeder can be programmed to recognize your cat’s microchip (or an RFID collar that comes with the unit, if your cat is not chipped), and will ONLY open up for that cat (in fact, the feeder can be programmed to recognize up to 32 pet identities). So, if you feed one (or more) of your cats a special diet (maybe your cat needs special kidney-care food, or she needs to be on a calorie-restricted diet), you can give her that diet without worrying about the other cats (or dogs) getting her food. And, you can add additional feeders to ensure that cats on special diets don’t go after other cats’ food, either! This makes meals soooo much easier, yes? You can even buy feeders in different colors to make things even more easy (and trendy). Go here to find out all about the feeders, which sell for about $150.
Second is the Microchip Cat Door. You can install this through glass, brick, and just about any interior-to-exterior wall. Additionally, you can install it in the interior of your home, which can be VERY helpful when you’re trying to give one (or more) of your kitties access to a safe room, and want to be able to exclude other animals from that area (this is great for pet introductions, or for when you have to keep pets separated, for whatever reason). Again, this cat door is activated when it recognizes your cat’s microchip, so you can program it to allow one (or more) cat access, but not others. The door sells for about $125; go here to get more details on the cat door (and they also have another door that is sized for other pets as well).
Amazon Dash Buttons – amazon.com (various pet products)
Here’s another great stocking-stuffer for the person in your home who is responsible for buying cat food, litter, or other pet supplies. It’s the Amazon Dash Button, and it’s only $4.99, which is credited back to you the first time you use it to order nearly any pet product it supports (so it’s basically free). You simply use the Amazon app on your phone to set the button to recognize your wifi network, then assign a product to that button (one product per button), and then press the button when you need to order that product. The light on the button turns green (and it can’t be reordered until your first order is received, so no need to worry about multiple button pushes), and you receive your order at your doorstop within one or two days! SOOOOOO EASY!!! There are a bunch of different pet product companies that you can get Dash buttons for, including Arm and Hammer (no need to go to the store to buy litter anymore!), Wellness, Litter Genie, and others, and within those companies, a TON of products that you can order with the Dash buttons. I personally order Wellness wet cat food using a Dash button (pictured; my Dash button is right next to the cat food in my pantry and I just push it when I’m running low)!
K&H Thermo Kitty Splash Heated Cat Mat – amazon.com
This is not a novel product, but it’s an incredibly good one so I thought I’d mention it on this list. Heated cat beds are nothing new. However, this particular cat bed heats up ONLY when there’s pressure on it, so when your cat isn’t using it, it doesn’t get warm. And, when it does heat up, it heats only to the body temperature of your cat (although I do cover the bed with a blanket, just to be safe). My older cat Jesse LOVES this bed (pictured without the blanket), especially in the winter – the heat really does sooth his achy joints (he has arthritis in his back legs and hips), and it keeps him warm when we’re not at home and the heat is turned down in our home. The bed itself is super-soft, and the heating pad can come out of its zippered pouch if you need to wash the bed itself. Best of all, it’s available through Amazon Prime for only $30!
PawTrack GPS Collar for Cats – pawtrack.com
Here’s a gadget that is both functional and interesting, and can help you figure out where your cat is if she likes to roam outdoors. This GPS collar by PawTrack is specifically designed for cats – it’s small and lightweight (about 50g), splash-proof, and has safety elastic so that the collar can slip off if it gets snagged on something (but don’t worry – it’s a GPS unit so you’ll be able to find it, especially after activating its beeper which can help you pinpoint its exact location for recovery). The collar operates on wifi while your cat is home, then switches over to GPS while your cat is out, and the rechargeable batteries last up to 3 days (but I believe it comes with two sets of batteries, so you can always have one set charged and ready to go). You can track where your cat goes in any browser (a device app is coming soon!), which will help you find your cat if she gets lost, or simply learn about where she’s spending her time (a neighbor’s house, perhaps???). The collar isn’t exactly cheap – it’s $200 – but the first year of GPS service is free, and after the first year, the service is $7 per month. But wouldn’t it be interesting to find out how your outdoor cat is spending her days? This collar has the potential to offer up another look into the secretive world of cats! Go here to find out more about PawTrack’s GPS collar.
SHRU – The Intelligent Cat Companion – getshru.com
BONUS PRODUCT!!! The SHRU was NOT featured in the Pet Lover Geek radio show about geeky pet products, but I just learned about it and it sounds like fun. Behold the SHRU! The SHRU looks like it could actually bring your cat some fun enrichment while you’re not home. I haven’t tested this product, but according to the website, the “SHRU is not another cat toy, it’s a cat companion, designed to be your cat’s new best friend while you’re away from home. It automatically responds to your cat’s play by mimicking a small animal’s erratic movement and sound, is rechargeable by USB, and you can configure SHRU to operate in different play modes to keep kitty on her toes. Turn SHRU on before you leave the house, and SHRU will keep kitty entertained as it automatically turns on and off throughout the day!” Wow! Sounds like fun to me – I hate it when my cats get bored with their toys, but who can blame them? Balls and toy mice don’t move around by themselves, and battery-operated toys run out of juice. The SHRU turns on throughout the day, AND it is USB-rechargeable! It costs $119 and you can purchase additional tail attachments based on what you think will tickle your kitty’s fancy. This one MIGHT be on my cats’ wish list this year! If you give it a try, let me know what you think.
So, that’s my tech-inspired cat gifts list. Is there anything that I didn’t include that you think cats or their guardians would enjoy? If so, leave me a comment below. Thanks so much for reading!
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