CUTESY accessories and creepy interior trends like antique furniture made into pet beds mean nothing to them.
Sensations, behaviors, and responses are hardwired through millions of years of natural evolution in cats and dogs. Even after a few short millennia of getting used to being infantilized idols of our worship, the wolf and tiger are in your living room.
Include features in their environment that meet their deeper, essential needs. Some of these pet products are free, some make the most of the new smart home technology, while others are wonderfully simple, effective, and affordable.
Cats and dogs have a natural distrust of standing water—and they’re right. Still may contain smelly water parasites, viruses and bacteria. Animal vessels that are rarely washed are toxic to both pets and the people who handle them.
They therefore seek fresh water from a dripping faucet, a shower, even from the freshly flushed toilet bowl. Water bowls are generally placed against a wall – something cats dislike as they fear attacks from behind. Their whiskers, highly tuned sensory equipment, also touch the rim of the bowl, sounding certain blood vessels and nerves.
Cats have rather delicate kidneys, and both cats and dogs can be encouraged to hydrate by the trickling sound and enticing scent of cool, delicious water from a pet fountain. Adapt the model’s capacity (in litres) and drinking height to the size of the animal, its noise level (there is a small batter-powered pump) and finally the ease of cleaning – dishwasher-safe models are ideal for a weekly sanitization. Stainless steel and ceramic elements are more expensive but will likely last longer.
The Catit Flower Fountain is a handsome teacup sized cat or dog drinker. Everything except the pump can be put in the dishwasher. It’s easy to fill and clean. Including an LED night light and water level indicator, it allows for three different water flow settings, and when the battery runs out there’s still water left to rinse off the petals until you get home, refill and charge. €38. Another popular purchase, The Cat Pixi, features a cartoon-style cat face in pretty candy colors. The triple action fountain filter softens the water and removes debris as it runs, cleaning itself 24/7. If the cat prefers a bubbly source, both Catit and Pixie have removable tops for more energetic food; €44-54, available at petstop.ie.
Having researched the thorny issue of stun collars as a means of controlling feral dogs, I’m really excited to see a completely cruelty-free new product.
Tractive is a collar-mounted, subscription-powered GPS system useful for both cats and dogs. First of all, if your pet bites it – as long as the collar is still on, you can locate it, or at least find out where it was last before the collar was removed.
The Tractive notifies you via your mobile device when your pet has left its virtual safe area (such as the geofence in the garden) and can tell you where it is with live tracking every two to three seconds. It’s waterproof, so ideal for blustery walks on the beach. Location History can help you understand where around your home and garden your dog is most active when you’re away and gather valuable information about their habits and health. The tracker can be removed from the collar every seven days to be charged via USB.
Get the free app for iOS, Android or directly from your PC
. Alexa users can enable the Tractive GPS skill through the Alexa app. From €49.99 for dogs and cats with a regular €15 discount (€35.99 with free shipping). App-based subscriptions from €4 per month,tractive.com
The destruction of our native wildlife by domestic cats is a hot topic. If you think these are mealy-mouthed meows, the communities of Bendigo in Victoria and the
, have just introduced a curfew for domestic and feral cats roaming after dark. It’s not easy to train a housebound cat who isn’t being tickled by toys.
Brain-challenging gadgets are one thing, but wiggling that furry butt when you’re on the go? cats walk alone Few tolerant cats will even walk on a harness. I started taking my late and beloved James to the top of a hill. He was expected to go back downstairs. He would often snap back like a crazed, feline Orson Welles, fueled by the terror of being yanked from his bean bag chair and exposed to the great outdoors.
The Cat Wheel is a growing obsession for making kittens bounce (aside from a cat extension, or “Catio”). Given the feline nature of cats, any spending over a tenner is a risk. They’ll either frolic heartily encouraged, with a feather wedged in your bloody fingertips, or think you’re rude and stalk off, tail held high. The cheapest wheel I could find (and you could throw away as much as $639 on the handcrafted beech “Wheel of Purrtune”) is Canadian Cat Company’s Cat Wheel, with its open, back-friendly design and EVA foam surface for one good grip underneath nails. The cat can jump onto the plastic and aluminum ring from both sides and the device is extremely stable. It has ball bearing casters to reduce noise and the manufacturers assure me that unlike rodents, cats do not become addicted to exercise. From €294.99 on special offer, zooplus.de. For a depressed or senior cat who longs to sunbathe, the K&H EZ Mount Window Bubble Pod can be attached to any window
sunbathing, bird watching, snoozing, fun place. From €36, Amazon.
Pet-Tech doesn’t end up barking down a Ring smart camera when he flips his crate. Puppr is a nice little app that you can carry around and use for exercising at home or at the walk/park during bonding time. Follow the video instructions and use the built-in “click” tool to get your dog to listen and enjoy treat-based training. Available for free on Google Play for Android and Apple for iPhones.
Cats can get by on their own for long periods of time, but food and water are not an area for compromise. Smart feeding is an essential element of good barkitecture and ranges from simple timed units to brands that control your pet’s weight with feeding programs linked to their condition. We like this TX8 Smart Automatic Food Dispenser. It includes an integrated wide-angle camera with infrared night vision and motion detection to take pictures and live stream video or use the microphone and speakers to interact with the cat. 1–10 servings (one serving = 24ml). From €199 for cats at a variety of pet stores.
When you’re away, a pack animal like a dog may feel isolated and desperate for rescue, which can lead to antisocial and destructive acts. Aside from the most comfortable bed you can provide for their size and type, lick mats are a veterinarian-approved, cost-effective solution that enriches their canine environment.
They allow the dog to spend hours exercising their natural licking behavior on a textured, tricky surface brushed with some tasty, soft food like peanut butter. Sodapup Jigsaw Emat Lick Mat €12.99, mutts.ie. If your dog is very upset every time you leave him, consult your veterinarian for more complete advice. Along the way, you could try fake pheromones for self-soothing. An Adaptil Calming Collar releases an odorless synthetic copy of a dog mom’s natural calming pheromone, which calms her pups and calms dogs in stressful situations like travel. From €22.99, zooplus.ie