While I’m not advocating for pet owners to avoid ever feeding Rex or Whiskers by hand, there are times when automatic pet feeders are very useful. Petlibro’s Granary WiFi feeder, one of the newest market options, means you can maintain the strict dining regimen you established for your furry friend while working from home even as you head back to the office. It’s also ideal if you’re jetting off for the weekend and would rather not put your neighbor on bowl-filling duties.
With slick looks recalling an espresso machine, this upright feeder – the second-generation model from petbook – comprises a canister fixed to a bowl. Needless to say, it’s sleeker than the “Kenl-Mastr,” supposedly the first mechanized pet feeder, which was invented in 1939 and was stocked in Bloomingdale’s. A New Yorker shopping article described it as “a covered food plate for dogs that pops its lid at feeding time if you remember to set its alarm-clock timer”.
Petbook’s model does more than pop a lid. After you’ve loaded the canister with kibble – it works with dry food – the fun begins. Everything is scheduled through buttons on the machine (which can be a little finicky) or via an app, which is great for making amends on the run. (There is also a cheaper, non-WiFi version.) And you can make an audio recording so that your voice announces each meal.
A battery backup will kick in should a power outage occur, the food tray can be chucked in the dishwasher, and parts are pleasingly sturdy, with a stainless-steel bowl that isn’t easily upturned by a wayward paw. Most importantly, it has Fort Knox-like security levels. A twist-lock lid and special sealing strip keep moisture out and kibble fresh for two-odd weeks, which is about as long as the five-litre supply will last anyway (you receive an app notification when stocks are low). But please don’t leave your moggy alone that long. Petbook Granary WiFi Feeder $89.99 (non-WiFi version from $65.99), petbook.com
Fitbit for Fido
Does Fido fancy a Fitbit? That’s essentially what this smart collar is. It uses non-invasive radar sensors to monitor vitals like respiratory and heart rates, plus sleep patterns and quality. Pet owners may want to know such things given that 10-20 per cent of dogs are at risk of, or already suffer from, heart conditions. Like lots of competitors, the Invoxia features GPS tracking, but few other collars are able to monitor biometric stats because that typically requires close skin contact and fur gets in the way. The collar works via an app but has one major caveat: it’s only for medium and large dogs. Available in the US, UK and Europe from September. Invoxia smart dog collar, £99 plus £12.99 monthly subscription, invoxia.com
Automatic for the cat people
It resembles a chic retro washing machine but this contraption might be the best automated kitty litter you can buy. After your cat has done its thing, the machine spins quietly, moving the contents to an odour-proof drawer and sterilizing itself with bacteria-zapping UV light. (Fear not: weight sensors ensure the drum won’t start whirring until the cat has exited.) When the drawer is full – after about a week – you’ll get an app notification to remove it. But don’t leave it that long unless absolutely necessary, hey? The app also keeps you across your cat’s business by tracking its weight and bathroom activity to help you keep tabs on its health. Smarty Pear Leo’s Loo Too, $599.99, smartypear.com
It’s alive, it’s alive…
If your cat isn’t content to chase a ball of string, German brand Trixie makes interactive plush toys that provide pets with Netflix-like entertainment levels. Its classic animated model is a battery-powered “active mouse” that scurries across the floor, changes direction if it bumps into something, and stops when pressed – before restarting again after a second touch, so that Whiskers doesn’t get complacent. A newer option is a fish that wriggles irregularly when touched; it will stop automatically after 15 seconds before beginning another round of flopping. Cue an amused cat without the need for any bloodshed. Trixie active mouse, £13.99; wigglefish, £9.99, trixie.de
This new dog camera from Eufy – currently available in the US and Japan – is a remarkable pup-sitter. (It’s marketed at dogs but would work for cats too.) Working with an app, it provides a live-stream feed in 1080p clarity and has a 170-degree wide-angle lens, zoom function, and infrared night-time vision. A motion sensor tracks your pooch and the camera swivels to keep it at the center of the frame. Interactive functions, meanwhile, bring the fun: you can call out to Fido thanks to the built-in speakers and, best of all, use a treat-tossing function to fling tasty bites at three different distances. eufy Pet Dog Camera D605, $199.99, us.eufylife.com