Thinking of treating your pet to something special? Here are some great ideas for awesome cat gadgets to inspire you.
1. Microchip cat flap with app
If you don’t already have a cat flap operated by your cat’s microchip, then I’d certainly recommend one. Recently, I tried out a flap with an app that gives an announcement on your mobile phone whenever your cat goes in or out. As well as being fun to see their comings and goings, it’s also useful to get to know your cat’s habits, particularly if you’re out at work all day. It makes you aware of any changes to their usual behaviour, which could alert you to potential problems. It’s helpful if you have more than one cat, too, as you can easily tell if they’re all in for the night or if one cat is avoiding another.
2. Microchip cat feeder
These cat feeders work in the same way as the microchip cat doors – they only open for the cat whose microchip you’ve pre-set. They’re really useful if you have two cats on different diets – for example, one on prescription food or a weight-loss programme – as they prevent each cat eating the other’s food.
3. Cat water fountain
Cat water fountains are great if you want to encourage your cat to drink more. There are now app-connected models that monitor how much and how often your cat is drinking – important if your cat has renal disease or diabetes.
4. Video camera with motion sensor
Monitoring cameras can be useful, but you don’t need to buy a specialist cat one. An inexpensive wildlife camera with a motion sensor will do the job just as well. Knowing what’s going on with your cat when you’re not around can be helpful in lots of situations. I recently used one to film a cat with behaviour problems, and it showed that a neighbour’s cat was coming into the house and stressing him out. I wouldn’t recommend the ‘interactive’ cameras that let you talk to, or play with, your cat, though. They’re just a gimmick – your cat isn’t likely to be remotely interested, or it may even confuse them!
5. GPS cat tracker
A GPS tracker linked to your smartphone will show you where your cat goes when they’re not at home. It’s fascinating to see how far your cat roams, and it’s also useful to know whether they’re visiting neighbours – and possibly being fed by them, too! Most models are rather large for a cat, though, so I’m hoping they’ll come down in size.
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Which cat gadgets aren’t on Nicky’s shopping list?
Automatic scooping cat litter trays
Self-cleaning litter trays are hugely unnecessary, in my opinion. Cleaning your cat’s litter tray regularly is a simple job and can help you pick up signs of illness in your pet. I worry that if a cat was making short, frequent trips to the toilet (with a case of cystitis, for instance), they may return to an automated tray while it’s cleaning, or that the tray could malfunction and create toileting issues for the cat. Looking at product reviews online, it seems owners often find self-cleaning litter trays expensive, smelly and ineffective. Much better to clean up after your cat the old-fashioned way!
Remote cat toys
The idea of a cool cat gadget that plays with your pet when you’re not there might sound appealing, but automated toys are no substitute for interaction between cat and owner. There are also safety risks with some of the models I’ve seen – fishing-rod attachments, for instance, can pose a choking risk if left with a cat unattended.
Although they’re very popular, we don’t recommend laser pen toys at Cats Protection. They cause cats frustration when they can’t catch the ‘prey’ at the end of the game. A catnip mouse, fishing-rod toy or kitty kick-bag are much more satisfying playthings.