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The Verge’s favorite pet tech

The Verge’s favorite pet tech

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Some of the gadgets we use to keep our dogs and cats comfortable, fed, and amused

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Olivia the cat
Olivia
Photo by Helen Havlak / The Verge

If you’ve got a pet, it’s likely you have something cool that you use to either feed the pet, amuse the pet, watch the pet, track the pet, or travel with the pet. Well, the folks here at The Verge are no different: many have animal companions whom they feed, pamper, worry about — even obsess about — and totally enjoy.

We asked our co-workers to tell us about some of the techie (and not-so-techie) gadgets that they use to keep their pets clean, fed, and amused — along with portraits of the much-loved dogs and cats. We’ve got some great photos to show you. Enjoy.

Aslan

Mitchell Clark, news writer

Aslan the cat
Aslan
Photo by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

We got the WOPET automatic feeder after our vet informed us that our cat Aslan needed some kitty liposuction. We had been letting him eat whenever he wanted out of a gravity feeder, but he clearly didn’t have enough self-control for that — and I didn’t have the willpower to feed him on a set schedule (or, if I’m honest, to not give him a little extra when he looks up at me with his cute little face). The WOPET solved that issue by dispensing his food four times a day with set amounts, making sure I know exactly how much he’s eating without actually having to wake up to give him his midnight snack. It’s also great when we go on vacation.

Just as importantly, it doesn’t have an app, or Wi-Fi, or anything that will someday become “unsupported,” rendering my feeder a brick. It just has buttons on the top that I can use to set how often my cat gets fed and how much food gets dispensed with each meal. (Though if you’re the type that wants your pet feeder to connect to the internet, WOPET does make a version with an app and a built-in camera, though I can’t speak to the quality of those features.)

$64

Programmable feeder for cats and dogs.


The ChomChom pet hair remover is an extraordinarily simple device — it’s basically a couple of pieces of plastic, fabric, and rubber. But through some dark magic, it’s better at getting cat hair off my couch, cat tree, and other upholstery than even the adhesive-laden lint rollers (though those are still superior if the thing you’re trying to de-pet is yourself). I’d explain more, but honestly, I think the ChomChom can best be explained with this gif:

ChomChom pet hair remover
ChomChom pet hair remover
Gif by Mitchell Clark / The Verge

I know I’m stretching the definition of “tech” here, but I just had to share the ChomChom because the first time I saw someone use it, my jaw dropped. I hope it can change your life like it did mine. (Note: as far as I can tell, the Limited Cat edition ChomChom that I paid extra for is 0 percent more functional than the regular one. It was still worth it, though.)

$18

Reusable cat and dog hair remover.


Jeeves

Elizabeth Lopatto, deputy editor

Jeeves the cat
Jeeves
Photo by Liz Lopatto / The Verge

Jeeves loves to be in the office with me while I work. (I assume she’s supervising.) Anyway, to make her cozier, I got her this fuzzy cat bed. At first, she was afraid of it — she’s extremely shy around new people and objects — but now, a year later, it’s her favorite place to sit that isn’t my lap. Usually, she spends the afternoon snuggled up in it.

$35

Calming donut furry bed for cats and dogs.


So my boyfriend came home from Costco one day — ominous start to the sentence, I know — and said he’d “gotten me a present.” Then he admitted he’d gotten the cat a present. Then he said we could all use it. We do. It’s an electric blanket, and Jeeves loves it. (It’s also great if your back or neck hurts.) You know how cats love to lie on heating grates? She’ll ditch the heating grate for this because I think it’s probably more comfortable, and also, it means she gets to cuddle her humans.

$37

Electric blanket with one-touch built-in remote.


Trico and Kaiser

Adi Robertson, senior reporter

Cats Trico and Kaiser
Trico and Kaiser
Photo by Adi Robertson / The Verge

Skoon’s selling point is that it’s made of diatomaceous earth — as in, it’s a literal bag of soft rocks. I cannot explain what makes these rocks capable of almost completely nullifying smells and stopping my trash monsters from tracking dust around the apartment better than any normal litter I’ve ever tried. (It’s also supposedly eco-friendly, what with the “being just a bag of rocks” thing, but I can’t empirically attest to that.) My husband refers to it as “a miracle of science,” and I’m not going to disagree.

$28

Absorbent cat litter made of diatom pebbles.


Trudee

Kaitlin Hatton, senior social media manager

Trudee the dog
Trudee
Photo by Kaitlin Hatton / The Verge

Trudee, otherwise known as My Boss, is notoriously insistent on being the focus of my attention. At any given moment, she has 20 toys strewn about my apartment, but she will not play with them unless I’m watching her. Like literally, no distractions, sitting within feet of her, just staring at her chewing on her toys for hours on end.

Don’t get me wrong — I love staring at my dog, but she doesn’t get the enrichment she deserves when her activity levels are tied directly to my ability to give her undivided attention. That is, until I bought The Pet Fit For Life Plush Wand. It has a toy attached to a long, chewable rope that is suspended from a metal pole. Now I not only toss the toy about the room from the comfort of my couch, but Trudee is also so distracted by chasing it, she doesn’t notice if I am not making direct eye contact. It’s a win-win.

$11

Plush duck squeaky dog toy.


Ned and Olive

Sarah Smithers, senior editorial coordinator

Dogs Ned and Olive
Ned and Olive
Photo by Sarah Smithers / The Verge

My husband and I have two medium-sized dogs named Ned and Olive.

I could go on and on about their positive qualities, but instead, I will be focusing on the one negative that they share: they are walking hairballs. I don’t know how two animals could possibly shed as much as they do. It doesn’t matter what season it is — every day, they lose enough hair to make a whole new dog. 

I haul my giant vacuum cleaner out at least twice a week in an attempt to keep my floors as fur-free as possible. But five minutes after I’ve put it away, another dog hair tumbleweed will roll across the hardwood. 

That’s where my Shark Cordless Pet Perfect Handheld Vacuum comes in. It’s cordless and weighs about 15 pounds less than my regular vacuum, which makes tidying up in between regularly scheduled cleaning sessions a breeze. Every evening, I spend two minutes walking around my living room, just sucking up hairballs (or the stuffing from murdered toys) as needed. Sure, it’s not great at getting the hair out of our rugs, but it definitely keeps the hardwood floors neat enough. And as an added bonus, it is not half as loud as a normal vacuum, meaning Ned doesn’t hide from it, and Olive doesn’t try to attack it. 

$49

Powerful cordless vacuum picks up pet hair from various surfacs.


Bill and Ted

Alice Newcome-Beill, commerce writer

Cats Ted and Bill
Ted and Bill
Photo by Alice Newcome-Beill / The Verge

Cats are a mathematical curiosity: you want one, and you end up bringing home two. You have two, and yet, they somehow produce enough poop for three. When my partner and I were looking for a new feline companion, we didn’t anticipate bringing home two, but the dynamic duo known as Bill & Ted are an inseparable pair. Don’t get me wrong — they’re sweet, adorable, but occasionally foul creatures. After spending a week or so emptying their communal litter box on a seemingly constant basis, I knew that we needed some kind of automated solution. While there are plenty of automatic litter boxes on the market, there’s just one Litter-Robot. This unconventional but clever piece of engineering is by far the most elegant solution I’ve seen to keeping a litter box turd-free.

The central compartment of the Litter-Robot rotates in place to sift out litter and deposit clumps in a bag that’s in a drawer in the base of the litter robot. For our two roughly two-year-old cats, we empty the bin about once a week. The Litter-Robot is also equipped with a pressure sensor, so it never cycles while a cat is using it, and it has an LED light to keep it illuminated in dark areas if your cat has vision problems. You can program how often you want the Litter-Robot to cycle and can even program a sleep period, so it doesn’t cycle in the middle of the night. I never thought I’d be discussing quality-of-life features for a litter box, but here we are.

The Connect series offers many of the same features as the standard model but uses an app to allow you to remotely cycle the device and track your cat’s bathroom habits. The Litter-Robot 3 is definitely more expensive but is one of the best investments I’ve made for my cats, and frankly, anyone that owns more than one cat should consider owning one.

$549

WiFi-enabled automatic self-cleaning litter box for cats.


Olivia and Mozart

Helen Havlak, publisher

Olivia the cat
Olivia
Photo by Helen Havlak / The Verge
Mozart the cat
Mozart
Photo by Helen Havlak / The Verge

Our cat Olivia (we also have a step-cat named Mozart) is a voracious beast who loves dry food so much that sometimes she eats too fast and then vomits. Enter this Catit slow feeder, which consists of five plastic cups in a holder. You distribute the food between each cup, and then your cat has to fish the food out with their paws in order to eat. This slows down mealtime significantly, and I like to think it gives our cat a little extra physical and mental exercise.

It can be a bit messy — she sometimes flings food and then has to chase it down — so don’t place it in a high foot-traffic area. But compared to other slow feeders, I like that you can disassemble it and run the individual food cups through your dishwasher when it needs to be cleaned.

$15

Cat slow feeder designed to help pets eat at a healthier pace.


This ceramic pet fountain is a little pricey, but unlike other fountains we’ve tried, it is entirely silent. That means you can put it in your bedroom or bathroom without having to listen to an incessant gurgle or the whirring of a motor. This was a big problem with our old one, even after we added rocks to try to minimize the splashing noises. It’s also extremely easy to clean: the top lifts off, the pump lifts up, and you can quickly soap it down with hot water. We don’t bother buying their replaceable carbon filters; we just start with filtered water and clean regularly.

Most importantly, our cat loves it — which is especially important as she also loves dry food!

$60

Quiet pet fountain with 60-ounce water capacity.


If you love your cat but also love your furniture, do yourself a favor and buy a few cardboard cat scratchers. Our cat loves them way more than any fancy cat tree and has pretty much entirely stopped scratching our couch. We get several months’ use out of each one, especially as they are reversible. For extra cuteness, you can even splurge on one shaped like a skateboard.


Oscar and Pouncey

Antonio G. Di Benedetto, commerce writer

Cats Antonio G. Di Benedetto
Oscar and Pouncey
Photo by Antonio G. Di Benedetto / The Verge

We have two cats, Pouncey and Oscar, who have always shared a litter box. Oscar, the younger one, is quite messy — jumping out of the box with reckless abandon and spreading litter all over. We initially had a covered box to slightly circumvent this, but last year, we opted for a pricy self-cleaning one to keep things tidier (it was on sale for a little more than $400 then). Like much smart home tech, it’s excellent in some ways and dumb in others.

I love that I’m no longer scooping litter every day, and if we ever go on a trip, we don’t have to ask friends or family to handle poop duties in addition to feedings. But it’s a blessing and a curse because if I don’t empty out the waste bin on time, it piles up too high. Ever try opening a jam-packed kitchen drawer with a ladle sticking up inside it? You know that sense of frustration when it hits the top of the frame and the drawer gets stuck? Picture that, but instead, it’s clumped-up cat pee smearing across the underside as you pull it out. Yeah, not ideal. So it handles the daily duties, but it keeps me on schedule, or I end up wrist-deep in the other doodies.

$469

Automatic cat litter box with multiple sensors to keep things neat and odor-free.


Gus and Smokey

Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, reviewer

Gus the dog and Smokey the cat
Gus and Smokey
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

As a puppy, my Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Gus, was the consummate escape artist. He could leap our five-foot-high fence in a single bound and often would if a dog, squirrel, or leaf happened to catch his eye. The Whistle Go Explore location tracker saved his furry butt a few times, first alerting us to his escapade (when the device disconnects from your Wi-Fi, you get an alert), then helping us track him down with its GPS location tool. 

As he’s gotten older and lazier, it’s been a helpful tool for making sure he’s getting enough exercise. Essentially a Fitbit for pets, the Whistle Go tells us how many steps he’s taken and how many calories he’s burned. It also has some neat health features on board, thanks to an accelerometer that can keep track of how much drinking, licking, scratching, and sleeping he’s doing. This info actually helped us realize that the poor boy has terrible seasonal allergies, and he’s now on a daily Zyrtec regime and much happier for it.

$96

Set up alerts and quickly track your pet; also monitor your pet’s day-to-day activity.

I couldn’t live without my automatic pet feeders. I have a total of 14 mouths to feed in my household — one dog, one cat, seven chickens, a bunny rabbit, two kids, and a husband. Making sure everyone gets what they need when they need it could be a full-time job. Being able to delegate feeding the dog and the cat to two separate PetSafe pet feeders means two fewer mouths for me to worry about. 

In the PetSafe app, I can program how many meals they get each day and what time each is fed, plus determine how big each portion is — very helpful now that my 74-pound puppy Gus is on a vet-instructed diet. The cat, Smokey, has his feeder up on a table so Gus doesn’t sneak in any extra portions (there are some feeders that can recognize your pet based on their chip, but the table works too!). If someone needs a snack, I can just press the button on the feeder, and they get a little extra, or I can ask Alexa to dispense a specific amount. It’s the kind of hands-free convenience that makes the smart home so helpful.

$130

Doles out the right amount of food for your pet; can be controlled via smartphone or Alexa.