By Holly Brockwell
We love to spoil our pets all year round, but there’s something about the festive season that demands the very best for Felix and Fido. And like any kid at Christmas, your fluffy friends might well appreciate some of the latest tech for 2019, whether it’s really for them or you.
Here’s our pick of the best gadgets and gifts to treat them to this year.
PETSAFE FROLICAT CHEESE TOY – This hunk of plastic ‘cheese’ is ideal for keeping your cat busy when they’re full of beans and you’re trying to get things done, or just relax at the end of the day. Little yellow mice pop out of holes in the cheese chunk at random, keeping kitty fascinated trying to work out where they’ll appear next and how they can smack one with a paw before it pops back in. Sessions are timed automatically, so the toy switches itself off after 15 minutes of fun. £22.99, Amazon.co.uk
LITTER ROBOT 3 CONNECT – The amazing Litter Robot 3 Open Air is back, and this time it’s connected. The Litter Robot is already legendary among cat fans for being a completely automated self-cleaning litter tray (cat does its business, robot filters the litter, dirty litter drops into sealed drawer which you empty at the end of the week), but the addition of app control makes it even easier to use. Now you can see how full your robot is, activate it remotely, and change settings like how long it waits after the cat departs to scoop itself. What a future we’ve built. £538.80, coming soon to RobotShop.com
ANIMO DOG TRACKER – This brilliant little tracker sits on your dog’s collar unobtrusively gathering information about their daily activities. Walking, running, playing, barking – you can see exactly how your best friend’s day is going in the app, and share the data with family members. You can set activity goals, see trends over time, and get alerts if there are any significant behaviour changes, like an increase in barking, scratching or shaking. Animo is waterproof, weighs just 22 grams and has a battery life of six months. £59.99, SurePetcare.com
SUREFEED MICROCHIP FEEDER CONNECT & HUB – This ingenious feeder uses microchip tech to ensure only the correct pet gets access to the food. It’s easy to set up, and if your pets aren’t chipped, you can attach a little tag to their collar that works the same way. Once the feeder knows which pet or pets are allowed into the bowl, it’ll open the cover (which keeps food fresher and reduces smells) when they approach. Perfect for greedy fluffs, or those on a prescription diet.
The Connect part uses the Sure Petcare Hub (you only need one no matter how many pet bowls you have) to record the weight of food each pet eats, and helps you weigh out each portion. You can see each pet’s food record in the app. £169.98 for a bowl and hub, £119.99 for additional bowls, SurePetcare.com
BIONIC BIRD – This amazing Bluetooth drone flies just like a bird. You pilot it from your smartphone or tablet, indoors or outdoors, soaring up to 100 metres in the air. Whether you use it as a placeholder until you can have a free-flying parrot of your own, or use it as an irresistible (but somewhat expensive!) way to bait your pet into chase-based exercise, it’s a beautiful piece of kit that’s so lifelike, even real birds don’t get spooked. £96.34, RobotShop.com
WICKEDBONE – This smart, interactive dog toy rolls around the floor for your woofer to chase. You can either drive it manually with the smartphone app’s virtual joystick, or put it on the automatic setting whereby it reacts to doggy touches. It can be used indoors and outdoors as long as the ground is level, and the battery lasts between 40 minutes and 4 hours a session, depending on which mode you’re using.
It’s fairly robust, but if your pal manages to wreck it anyway, the tyres are washable and replaceable. £79.99, Amazon.co.uk
PETCUBE PLAY 2 – The follow-up to the PetCube Play pet monitoring camera brings a whole raft of upgrades. The sleek cube cam now includes a wide-angle 1080p (full HD) camera with night vision and 4x digital zoom so you can see your pal whenever you feel the need. There’s two-way audio so you can talk to them and hear what they’re up to, and even a laser toy with manual and autoplay modes to keep them busy (and fit) while you’re away. Amazon Alexa is also built in, for functions like playing dog music (don’t ask us…) or finding a nearby vet. Coming soon to PetCube.com
PETCUBE BITES 2 – Like the PetCube Play, the Bites pet camera has had a big upgrade this year, and is now even more appealing for people who miss their pets badly when they’re away from home. The Bites 2 camera has a pet-proof design, wide-angle view, full HD live video, night vision and 4x digital zoom – plus the ability to dispense treats remotely. You can even decide how far the machine flings them for your pet to chase after. There’s two-way audio so you can speak to and hear Fluffy, plus notifications for sound and motion, or if the camera detects unusual animal noise. Coming soon to PetCube.com
CATIT FLOWER FOUNTAIN – Like children, cats somehow seem to accumulate an inordinate amount of stuff around the house – often more than their humans. Ideally, you want that stuff to look good, so your home doesn’t start feeling like a cattery.
This cartoonish water fountain won’t fit everyone’s decor, but it’s a bright and cheerful way to turn something practical into something attractive – and of course the flowing water means cats can’t resist it. Great for keeping them hydrated and healthy. £24.99, Argos.co.uk
SOCK YOUR PET – There’s nothing high-tech about these socks, except for the modern printing process used to create them. Because they’re not just any animal-emblazoned socks: they feature your very own pet. A perfect present for a pet parent (not the pet themselves, they tend not to appreciate socks), you can either choose a repeating all-over pattern or just their face on a white background, in a choice of two sock sizes. Don’t forget to leave five working days for printing, though – no Christmas Eve orders! £19.99, Firebox.com
PET HOT HEAD – There’s nothing quite like a warm pet on your lap in winter. Unfortunately, our fluffy friends often have their own plans, and don’t feel like co-operating by sitting still until we’ve warmed up. Luckily, Firebox has a solution: Hot Heads, microwaveable warming cushions personalised with the face of your pet. Admittedly, it feels a bit weird to put in the microwave, but the feeling soon passes as you settle down with your freshly heated cushion and lo and behold, the real-life version turns up to share the warmth. £14.99, Firebox.com