Tech toys for your furry and feathered friends

The holidays can be fun for people and their companion animals. Here are some ideas for gifts that will keep your pet safe and happy.

My Pet Speaker

Your pet loves music as much as you do, but the sounds you crave may hurt their ears and jangle their nerves—and unlike a family member, the cat can't tell you to turn it down. With Pet Acoustics' My Pet Speaker ($149), your buddy won't have any cause for complaint. The product's design takes into account the special hearing sensitivities of dogs, cats, and horses. Its omnidirectional speaker, with a 4-inch drive unit and cone reflector, emits music at 360 degrees, "recreating how animals hear in nature," according to the manufacturer. Thanks to the speaker's limited frequencies and soft bass design, your pets will no longer be disturbed by too-loud volume, sudden startling sounds, or painful frequencies outside the range of human hearing.


People with feline companions generally take cleaning the litter box in stride. But what if you had a robot that could do the chore for you? Automated Pet Care Products' Litter-Robot ($340, available in black, gray, or beige) has a sensor-based sifting system that automatically rotates the unit and drops litter waste into a large bottom drawer—away from fussy little puss. Enjoy life with your cat more than ever, knowing that you'll never have to sift through dusty, dirty sand again.

Ceramic Drinking Fountain

No one can live without water, but it often seems as though our pets do just that. Sure, they go to the bowl for a few laps every so often—or they stick a paw or tongue in your water glass, or the sink, or the toilet. But that's not enough to keep them properly hydrated. Pioneer Pet Products' Raindrop Design Ceramic Drinking Fountain ($60) has a spouting fountain at the top and a large bowl of filtered water at the base, suitable for most cats and dogs. This ceramic model comes in black or white, in a variety of sizes. Plastic and stainless steel versions are available, as well.

FroliCat Bolt

Ever buy one of those tiny laser lights at the pet store checkout line and watch your cat go nuts with glee? Ever wish that the process didn't have to be so hands-on? Brilliant Pet's battery-operated FroliCat Bolt ($25) is an interactive laser toy that plays that same game of tag with your cat while leaving your hands free for reading, using your tablet, or fooling with the remote. It moves the laser in random patterns for a hands-free play session and automatically shuts off after 15 minutes. Great for dogs, too!


Are you obsessed with knowing what your little pal is up to while you're away? If so, the Eyenimal Petcam ($99) will keep you apprised of what they're doing, where they are, and who (or what) they're with. The tiny, extremely lightweight (35 grams) video camera attaches to your pet's collar and records their activities on 4GB of flash memory at 640 by 480 resolution. Eyenimal offers the Petcam in cat, dog, and general pet versions.

Tagg Pet Tracker

A missing dog or cat provokes fear about the fate of your beloved family member. Why put yourself in the position of having to wait anxiously for your pet to find his way home? Snaptracs' Tagg Pet Tracker ($100; plus $8 per month after three months) uses GPS and wireless technology to help you instantly locate your precious companion from your computer or mobile device. Just attach the Tagg to the animal's collar and you'll always know where to find her.


Just like you, your dog needs exercise to stay healthy. But what if the weather's bad, or your schedule doesn't permit you to take 3-hour jaunts in the park every day? For an active dog, there's nothing like PetZen's DogTread canine treadmill. A quiet motor drives a sturdy rubber belt that provides soft footing for your dog's paws, and side rails to keep the animal's attention directed forward. You can adjust the DogTread's speed, distance, and incline. The unit comes in three sizes, and ranges in price from $599 to $999.

Automatic Electronic Feeder

When your pet is hungry and you're not around to whip up dinner (or it's too early to get up for breakfast), you can count on Qpets' Automatic Feeder ($100) to keep the kibbles coming. You can program one to four meals daily (the feeder holds up to 45 cups of dry food), and the feeder automatically prevents the feeding tray from overloading. It even lets you record a 6-second message for your lonely darling to hear while you're away.

Cat Mate Selective Cat Flap

You like your Sylvester or Samantha to be free to visit friends and neighbors, but you don't want uninvited guests to come calling through the cat flap. Ani Mate's Cat Mate Elite Super Selective Cat Flap with ID Disc ($210) lets you control your cat's comings and goings, and prevent others from getting into the house. The door, which comes with two waterproof RFID chips for your cat's collar, allows only kitties with the right chips to enter the house, keeping other critters out. The door can also tell you the current location of up to three cats, and you can program it to handle special situations, such as keeping one cat inside, but letting the others out. Doors come in 11 models, ranging in price from $20 to $210. Dog doors are also available.

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