Most of us have affection for animals, at least the fluffy, or otherwise aesthetically appealing, and good natured kind that enjoy that affection. For many of us that affection stretches to inviting a furry friend into our homes to share our domestic lives with in exchange for unconditional love.
Or in the case of some cats, tolerance of our presence in exchange for food and shelter and sporadic bursts of affection when in the mood. However, the problem is that many of us also have increasingly limited domestic lives. Long commutes and working hours as well as other commitments around family and friends can often mean leaving our furry friends at home alone and forced to amuse themselves.
Bored, inactive pets are something we feel guilty about. And with good reason, it isn’t beneficial for either their physical or mental wellbeing. They also have a habit of expressing their dissatisfaction with their lack of company or viable leisure pursuits in a destructive way, as many a slipper, shoe, wall or treasured possession can testify to. However, the latest technology in the world of pet toys holds the promise of doing a much better job of keeping our pets active and entertained when we’re not able to spend as much time with them as we might like.
Anyone who has had a pet cat or cats in an apartment that doesn’t offer convenient and safe outdoors entry and exit for a feline knows that this can lead to a fat and slightly bored cat. Two companies have recently come up with robotic mouse toys that can keep house cats active for hours at a time during the day. The SHRU, designed by PDX Pet Design, is egg-shaped but features a fluffy tail. This battery-powered cat toy rolls around in different directions, speeding up and slowing down. It’s been programmed to replicated the movement patterns of small animals that have had the misfortune to become the hunting game of a cat. It even emits small sounds.
As an extra bonus, when your moggy companion has tired of pursuing and toying with the SHRU and hasn’t touched it in a while it automatically goes into hibernation mode to conserve battery power. If playtime starts again, it will whir back to life at the nudge of a paw. The SHRU sells for a little under £100 so maybe wait for the cat’s birthday before splashing out!
At under £10, a cheaper alternative in cat toy tech is the Hexbug and Nano Bug toys by Hex Bug. These are robotic stuffed mice on wheels with computerised motors. The Hexbug mice erratically dart about in different directions, prompting any self-respecting cat into hot pursuit. It even sometimes stops and then shoots off again when it receives a cuff from a paw. The Nano Bug keeps of scampering about until its batteries die and can get itself back up and moving again if knocked over.
So that’s cats dealt with. Now all we need is an AI-powered robot that can take the dog out for a walk and fling balls and sticks for it!