You love your pets. You don’t have to love all the clean-up and maintenance they require. It’s okay! Fortunately, these tools and gadgets can help automate the boring stuff, so you can spend more time playing, petting, and cuddling your fur babies.
Leave a bowl of water on the ground and it’s likely to get a bunch of dirt and grime in it. If your pets don’t knock it over first. But a good water fountain, in addition to storing more water, will keep the water moving so it stays cleaner longer. Plus, pets prefer drinking moving water, so there’s a good chance they’ll stay more hydrated too.
This fountain from Drinkwell includes a massive 168 oz. reservoir, and a stream that leads into a small bowl so cats and dogs can both drink out of it however they prefer. You’ll need to clean it every once in a while, but the reservoir is large enough that refills will be rare.
Leave a large container of food out for some pets, and they’ll pace themselves appropriately. Others will literally eat until they kill themselves. If your pet is in the latter category, an automatic pet feeder can help. Simple gravity-fed feeders like this one from Petmate make sure the bowl is always full, which should cut down on the dreaded screams when your cat can see a tiny sliver of the bottom of the bowl. For pets on a diet though, the WOpet automatic feeder lets you schedule small or large food portions up to four times per day, which would also allow you to leave a cat alone for a weekend trip, if you needed to.
Whether you have an outdoor pet you want to keep track of, or an indoor pet that bolts out the door every time you open it, you might want to keep track of where your furry ones have run off to. The Whistle 3 GPS tracker uses cell towers to communicate with your phone, so you can find out where your dog has run off to, even if they get far from your home. Like most GPS trackers, this one is a little bulky for most cats or small dogs, so you might just want to keep the smallest ones inside.
Self-cleaning litter boxes can get a bit complicated, so we have a few options here. The Litter Robot costs an insane $450, but it’s also probably the best option on the market. Its giant rotating dome filters out clumps, dumps them in a container below the main unit, and rotates back to put the unused litter back in the basin. Not all cats are comfortable climbing in a huge futuristic cement mixer to use the bathroom, but if it works for your cats, you’ll only need to empty the drawer every once in a while.
If that price tag scares you away, this model from LitterMaid costs a comparatively reasonable $105. It uses a moving rake to scoop clumps into a separate container. From experience, these rakes can get jammed up, and require cleaning—which is just as annoying as scooping poop—but for households with a lot of cats, that might be worthwhile.
Finally, there’s the Litter Genie, which isn’t technically a litter box, but it does simplify the clean-up process. It comes with a self-contained bag dispenser that you can easily cut and tie off whenever it gets full. The bin can hold up to two weeks of litter for a single cat. You’ll still need to scoop every day, but at least you won’t have to empty the bin quite as frequently.
Playing with your pets isn’t really a chore, but every once in a while, they want to play while you’re busy or out of the house. Fortunately, there are gadgets to help them out. At $150, Mousr is a fairly expensive cat toy designed to simulate the experience of chasing a mouse. To my surprise, my cats have played with this little guy for hours. It’s hard to find the cat toy that’s more interesting than the package it came in, but this one managed it. Your mileage may vary, depending on your cat’s personality.
Dogs play a little differently. The tried and true Kong Wobbler will keep your dog occupied until they get at the treats inside. However, if you want something a little more involved, the iFetch will launch balls for your pup to chase and bring back. Like the Mousr, some dogs might take to it, some might not. If they’re into it, though, it’s a great splurge for that dog you’re spoiling like it’s your first born.