Even Star Trek android Data knew that cats and technology are a perfect pair; he once wrote a poem for his cat Spot.
If you know a techie or a Trekkie (or a Star Wars fan) who loves cats, here are a few cool electronic or high-tech gifts they’re sure to enjoy.
One note: While it might seem like you can turn on an electronic pet toy and walk away, we recommend that cats not be left alone and unsupervised with these devices.
Admittedly, it looks a little like Grandma’s heating pad, but the Petlinks Mystery Motion is an electronic version of the Hand Under the Blanket game, enticing Kitty to chase an unseen critter. Programmable with four different speeds, it encourages healthy play and mental stimulation — with the added advantage of less hand damage from sharp and pointy claws that poke through the blanket.
An electronic string-flinger, Frolicat FLIK swishes an enticing string back and forth, and sometimes yanks it back within the device. When my cats hear the sound of it flicking, they come running; the more adventurous of them will pounce — and sometimes try to bite — the string, and the more timid ones are fascinated by the sound and the flinging.
It looks a little like an egg with a feather attached, but don’t let SHRU’s simple looks fool you; the device is billed as an intelligent cat companion. Responding to your cat’s play, it engages kitty’s hunting instincts with erratic movements and sound. Rechargeable and configurable via USB to a Mac or Windows computer, SHRU also can be pimped up with a variety of feather attachments, sold separately.
This is the droid you’re looking for: a Sphero robotic rolling ball taken straight out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. BB-8 is an app-enabled Droid with an adaptive personality; you can control it with an app, plus it reacts to your voice. You can even create virtual holographic recordings. Oh, and your cat will love playing with it. Because you bought this as a gift for your kitty Yoda, right?
Know someone who is away from their kitties a lot? The Petzi Treat Cam — and it’s free companion app — lets users keep an eye on their pets from their mobile phone. But that’s just the beginning; you can also talk to Kitty, take a photo, or best of all, dispense a treat. It took my cats less than a minute to figure out that the sound of the Petzi meant treats were on the way. Through the Petzi Social Petwork, you can connect and share photos with other pet parents.
The Samsung SmartCam HD Plus offers an ultra-wide-angle lens, 1080p HD streaming, and — most important for cat parents — night vision capabilities. With motion detection capabilities and a companion app, the device can notify you when your stealth cat jumps up on the off-limits kitchen counter at night. With two-way sound enabled, you can also tell the cat to skedaddle.
Eyenimal Pet Cam gives cat parents the opportunity to see the world from their pets’ point of view. This small video camera attaches easily to a cat’s collar; put kitty to work capturing the sights and sounds of his activities. Download video and recharge batteries through a USB connection to your computer.
Thanks to newfangled technology developed at Paintapic, you can upload your favorite photo of your cat and have it turned into an old-fashioned paint-by-numbers canvas. Paintapic will send you the canvas or artboard, guide, brushes, and paints to create that one-of-a-kind museum-quality treasure; all you have to do is paint, sign it, and frame it — and then give it as a gift. Or for your more artistically inclined friends and family, send the set to them and let them paint.
Let the cat be the artist! Paint for Cats is an ingenious iPad app that encourages cats to swat the rainbow mousie as it moves across the screen. Every swipe and tap of a paw adds colors (from among 10 palettes); users may want to make sure kitty’s claws are trimmed before beginning. When human or cat feel the work is complete, save the feline masterpiece and share it or print it, frame it, and hang it over the fireplace.
Kuddly is an app that connects users to on-call licensed veterinarians 24-7, around the world, through live chat and emails. Search for vets by price, language, and specialty. While Kuddly is not a substitute for an in-office exam, and the on-call vets cannot provide a diagnosis or prescribe medications, they can offer professional advice when it’s needed. Then pet parents can schedule an appointment with their regular vet or contact a veterinary hospital for urgent care.
What better gift to give than volunteering at a shelter? Visitors to the iPetCompanion website can play live with cats in shelters waiting for their forever homes. More playtime means happier, healthier cats — the kind who get adopted more easily. So play with a cat or several from the comfort of your home, and while you’re there you can donate to the shelter. Don’t see your local humane society among those currently participating? Thanks to a generous grant, the iPet Companion system is being offered absolutely free of charge to qualifying shelters.
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About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with four cats (including Calvin T. Katz, the Most Interesting Cat in the World) and three dogs (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans — all of whom provide inspiration for her work and are willing testers for her pet technology reviews. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home — like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Dawn, Athena, Calvin and Elsa Clair (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.