Animals play a big part in peoples' lives, especially when they take the form of a loving pet. Like most sections of life, there has been a fair bit of technology introduced that can make life easier for pet owners, and make sure the animals themselves have a blast. Here are our top picks.
Eynimal Petcam, £60
Have you ever wondered what your pets are doing all day? Or have you ever wanted to get some pets-eye-view recordings? Look no further. The Eyenimal Petcam has a battery life of about two and a half hours, with 4GB of onboard storage to save it on. It's not fully waterproof, mind, but it is suitable for dogs and cats.
If that's a bit too rubbish to your liking, you can always get a harness for an action camera. Unfortunately they don't seem to make them in cat sizes, but would you risk trying to strap a camera to one of those mini death machines?
Anmer Electronic Pet Feeder, £70
So you won't be home until late, for whatever reason, and you don't trust your teenage neighbour to feed your pet for you. What do you do? Go hi-tech, of course. The Anmer Electronic Pet Feeder You can pre-program up to six meals a day, along with a recording of your voice calling your pet to its next meal. Obviously when the dinner time comes it'll dispense the food and keep the rest of its stash out of reach. It's quite small, and it's not so hi-tech that you can program it from your phone, but it'll do the job nicely for a relatively reasonable price. [Buy it here]
Ferplast Water Dispenser, £7
Speaking of which, you'll need to make sure they have enough water. There's no need to go hi-tech here, so just get this simple, yet convenient, gadget. Just fill up the reservoir with enough water to get through the day, and simple physics means the bowl will never be empty. [Buy it here]
Surflap Microchip Catflap, £55
Ah the classic. If you have a cat that love to roam the outdoors, and you'd like to let it come and go as it pleases without letting strays in, this is a worthy purchase. It scans your cat's microchip to make sure that no unauthorised animals are getting in. [Buy it here]
Dyson Vacuum-Assist Dog Groomer, £39
There are parts in the year where dogs start moulting like crazy. For some breeds, those times never seem to end. So you'll want to keep on top of that with some grooming, and this gizmo will make it much easier. It's a nozzle for Dyson vacuum cleaners that sucks up the excess fur as it's brushed away. [Buy it here]
Tractive GPS Pet tracker, £44
Pets can go walkabout from time to time, and if that happens you'll want to figure out where they are. The lost pet posters are a bit inefficient, and far to 20th-century. So get a GPS module that attaches to your pet's collar. This one is fairly small, offers live-tracking, and is fully-waterproof. [Buy it here]
If you don't want to spend so much, you can get this slightly cheaper option. The PetTouchID smart tag has a QR code, and when it's scanned it'll send the GPS location to you. It's not quite live-tracking, but it's still a handy way to find out where your lost pet might be.
PitPat Activity Monitor, £39
So yeah, fitness trackers for animals are a thing now. But just like human trackers, this one is designed to make sure your dog gets enough exercise. By divulging details like its breed and size, PitPat will work out how much exercise your dog's supposed to be getting. It also has goals and all the little details you;d expect from any tracker. It's fully waterproof and has enough power to last for a full year. [Buy it here]
FOODLER Electronic Timed Treat Feeder, £19
So you don't need to feed your pets while you're away, you can still give them something to do. This electronic treat feeder can be programmed to release little bits of food at set intervals. That way they've got something to do throughout the day, even if they don't play with it when there's no food available. [Buy it here]
Magic Led-Ball, £10
Pets love the laser pointer, and this is something similar that doesn't need you to be there waving it around. It's an electronic rolling ball with a red LED attached, constantly moving and giving your pet something to investigate. [Buy it here]
iFetch Ball Launcher, £130
This one is pretty simple. It launches one of three balls between 10 and 30 feet automatically. If you can train your dog to put balls back into the intake slot, they can have an unlimited amount of fun. It can be used inside and out, on mains or powered by a battery. [Buy it here]
Surefeed Microchip Pet Feeder, £75
If you live in a multi-pet home, you have to make sure one animal isn't eating the food meant for another. This gizmo makes sure the right pet gets its food, only letting a specific microchip unlock the bowl. It's a bit like the catflap from earlier, but with food waiting on the other side. It's got space for 32 different pets, and is easily programmable. That way you don't need to buy more than one. Unless you're a crazy person with 33 pets. [Buy it here]
PetSafe Self-Cleaning Litter Box, £132
It's always bothered me that outdoor-friendly cats get to poo in a box, while the more indoorsy dogs are sent outside. But that's life. Cleaning up after a cat is a bit of a chore, so get one of these self-cleaning models. It works automatically when the cat isn't there, with a metal grate sifting through the box and transferring all the mess into a sealed compartment. [Buy it here]
These days it's easy to keep tabs on your animals when you're not at home, thanks to the magic of the internet and smartphones. PetCube interacts with a smartphone app, letting you see what your animals are up to during the day in real time. It also comes with two-way audio, in case you need to bark commands, and a laser pointer that you can control remotely. [Buy it here]