Cat and dog lovers will want to put these items on their wish lists (or buy them themselves).
1. ZUS PUPPY-PROOF SUPER-DUTY CHARGING CABLE; $20
When I adopted my cat Pearl three years ago, I was horrified to discover that she was a cord chewer—and that she loved my phone charging cord most of all. If one was dangling and I wasn’t paying close enough attention, she’d get her little teeth into it, and bye-bye, cord. I could have used this 4-foot-long cable. It’s wrapped in Kevlar—the same super-strong material that’s used to make bulletproof vests—which means cats, dogs, and toddlers are no match for this cord. It comes in three versions (Lightning, MicroUSB, and USB-C) and has a lifetime warranty.
Find it: ThinkGeek
2. PETCUBE PLAY; $199
We included the Petcube Play on our gifts for cats list, but it’s also a great gadget for helicopter pet parents like me. Setup was easy, and by logging on to the app, I can check in on my cats no matter where I am, at any time of day, to make sure that they’re fine (and that our apartment isn’t burning down). The camera streams in 1080p HD video, is equipped with night vision, and has a 138-degree wide angle view and a 300x zoom; the app is compatible with iOS and Android phones. You can set up sound and motion alerts and record video to the cloud.
In theory, we could play with the cats using the Petcube’s laser, which you move by dragging your finger across your phone screen, but my cats were only mildly interested in it (you can watch me trying unsuccessfully to engage Pearl with the laser here while Olly watches). They’re more interested when we fire up the two-way speaker, which allows us to talk to them. Dog owners should consider pre-ordering the Petcube Bites, which dispenses treats to waiting puppers when you’re checking in on them or when you schedule it.
Find it: Amazon
3. DIRT DEVIL QUICK FLIP PRO; $59
Keeping an apartment tidy when you have a pet or two feels like a near Sisyphean task: I’ve no sooner swept up stray cat litter than Olly and Pearl are in and out of the box, tracking litter all over the place again. Fur builds up in corners. Pulling out the big vacuum to deal with it every single day is annoying.
Enter the Quick Flip Pro. This cordless, lightweight handheld vac easily sucked stray litter up off of hardwood floors and rugs alike. Its Quick-Flip Crevice Tool allowed us to get stray cat hair out of every nook and cranny, and the upholstery attachment restored the cats’ tower to its previous unfurry glory:
The vacuum has a 16-volt lithium-ion battery, so it charges fast and runs long, and features like XL easy empty dirt cup and a rinsable filter make it a cinch to clean. I’ve never loved a vacuum so much.
Find it: Amazon
4. TURDLEBAG; $18
There’s nothing more awkward than carrying a plastic bag filled with stinky dog poop while you search for a trashcan to toss it in. The Turdlebag helps you keep it classy: It attaches to your leash and holds poop-filled plastic bags in a sealed pouch until you can throw it away. It also has a pouch for storing cash, credit cards, and your phone. You can bet I'll be sending this to all the people whose dogs I pet-sit.
Find it: UncommonGoods
5. NITE IZE DOOHICKEY HAIR & LINT REMOVER; $9
It’s an inevitable truth of being a pet owner then you’ll be covered with your animal’s fur all the time, no matter what you do, even when you’ve lint-rolled yourself before leaving the house. This Nite Ize device is made of rubber—which attracts fur and lint—and has a comb on one side (for use on heavy fabrics) and grooves on the other (for lighter fabrics). It attaches to your keychain, making on-the-go fur removal easy.
Find it: Amazon
6. WHISTLE GPS PET TRACKER; $56
Many pet owners harbor anxiety that their pet will get out of their home or away from them at the park and disappear. The Humane Society estimates that 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year. And while microchips are great (they increase the odds of your dog making it back to you by 238 percent, and your cat by 2000 percent), they’re passive—your pet first has to be found, and then taken to a vet or shelter, to make its way back to you. But with the Whistle GPS collar, you can track your animal’s location in real time via an app (compatible with iOS and Android). Set up a safe zone for your animal, and when your pet leaves that area, you’ll get a notification on the app or via text. The rechargeable, waterproof device attaches to collars and harnesses up to an inch wide and requires a monthly membership, which costs between $7 and $10.
Find it: Brookstone
7. PETSAFE SMART DOOR; $90 TO $235
Pet doors are great, provided it’s only your pet that comes through and not, say, a raccoon. Keep wild animals and strays out of your pad with the Smart Door. The system includes a door and a SmartKey (both battery operated). The key goes on your pet’s collar, and the door and the key communicate using radio frequencies. Set the door to automatic, and it will swing open when it detects your pet’s key (and swing shut when the key is out of range). The doors come in two sizes and are programmable for up to five pets.
Find it: Amazon
8. CURIO LITTER BOX; $199 TO $299
Litter boxes are the bane of a cat owner’s existence. They’re big, ugly eyesores that we try to hide away. (I’ve spent more time than I care to admit looking at hacks of IKEA furniture that conceal litter boxes.) This is not the case with the CURIO, a handcrafted litter box designed by Heather and Damian Fagan. “When we adopted our two cats ... we were surprised by the lack of design-minded litter box options on the market,” Damian told mental_floss earlier this year. “Many were just decorative litter box covers that didn't improve upon the litter management aspect and many were very expensive. We felt there was a real need for a functional and stylish litter box that was more affordable.”
CURIOs come in three designs—Maple, Walnut, and Walnut+Pattern—and have an opening on the side to allow cats to discreetly jump in and out. Inside is a custom-designed litter liner (sold separately) with high sides and handles to make it easy to lift out for cleaning.
I loved the box so much, I bought one—and it’s so well designed that when a friend visiting from out of town saw it, she exclaimed, “this is a nice new piece of furniture! What is this?” Imagine her surprise when I told her it was a litter box. Until you train your cats to use the toilet, this is the most subtle and elegant way for them to use the restroom. (And it’s not a bad hideaway for small pups, either.)
Find it: Etsy