Dogs may be man's best friend, but any type of pet quickly becomes part of the family. And why should any family member miss out on the joy of getting gifts? We round up some of the best presents to pamper your pooch, and gift ideas for the cat crazy lady in your life.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
As much fun as playing fetch can be, it's guaranteed that you'll get sick of the game before your dog does. The iFetch lets a dog keep the game going by themselves, long after their spoil-sport owner has called it quits, or when they're not around.
This little device works like a baseball pitching machine. Loaded up with mini tennis balls, the iFetch will automatically fire them across the yard or park, with an adjustable launch distance. It will take a little training to get the dog to bring it back and drop the ball in the chute, but once it's mastered that skill, the game never has to end – at least until the battery dies.
Starting from US$49, the iFetch comes in three models. There's the standard for small to medium-sized dogs, the iFetch Too for bigger breeds, and the battery-less iFetch Frenzy, which instead relies on a gravity-fed system.
Casper dog mattress
If your dog's a digger, it might be easy to fall into the trap of just buying cheap beds on a regular basis. After all, why spend too much if they're just going to tear it to shreds? The Casper's dog mattress is designed to stand up to that kind of treatment.
This shrunk-down version of Casper's human-sized mattresses keeps the comforts of memory foam, while wrapping them in a tough outer layer to withstand digging, scratching and chewing. Raised edges give the pups a place to rest their heads and help them feel sheltered.
Casper's dog mattresses come in three sizes, and prices begin at $125.
Buy now from Casper
Pet on Wheels
There's plenty of room for pets in the car, but if you prefer to get around on two wheels, Rover probably shouldn't tag along. That is, unless he's in a Pet on Wheels, a sturdy carry case that attaches to the rear rack of a bicycle, scooter or motorbike to let pets cruise in comfort.
On the inside, the Pet on Wheels provides a sheltered place to snooze, with a pillow included and two intakes cycling fresh air through it. On the other hand, if your passenger likes to stick their head out and enjoy the wind and view, there's a hole in the lid to allow them that luxury. An attached leash, meanwhile, keeps them from jumping or falling out.
The kit comes with a universal plate, allowing it to be fitted to the luggage rack of most motorbikes, scooters or bicycles. Or it can just be placed in the car, with the seatbelt threaded through the handle.
Pet on Wheels is available for €199 (US$212).
Buy now from Pet on Wheels
Furbo and Kittyo, pet treat cameras
One of the best parts of owning a dog is coming home to someone who's always super excited to see you, and why wouldn't they be? You've been gone basically forever, and they were beginning to think you might never come back.
Pet treat cameras, like Furbo for dogs and Kittyo for cats, can help them through the long, boring days at home alone. Both devices let you use your smartphone to check in on your pet through a HD camera (plus easy social media share options), and talk to them via the phone's microphone. But the fun part is the treat dispenser, which you load up with their favorite goodies before you leave, and fire out of the unit from wherever you are.
Given the different target markets, there are a couple of specialized features. Kittyo throws in a cat's favorite toy, a laser pointer, which owners can move remotely, while Furbo's microphone keeps an ear out for the dog's barking, and can send a notification for the owner to check in and calm them down.
Furbo and Kittyo are available for $249 each.
Cat Scratch Turntable
Let's face it, cats are going to scratch stuff. It's in their nature. Rather than let said stuff be your nice new couch, why not give them an outlet that everyone can enjoy? Scratching posts are boring, but Suck UK has an option that's made for YouTube – the Cat Scratch Turntable.
This corrugated cardboard toy is easy to assemble and will spin as your cat paws at it, keeping them (and you) entertained and your furniture in one piece. Just be ready with a camera and a beat-driven tune to dub over the video.
The Cat Scratch Turntable is available for $20.
Buy now from Amazon
With all our Fitbits and smartwatches, we have a dizzying array of wearable devices, but pets aren't exactly missing out either. Smart collars can help you monitor their health and activity levels, or find them if they go missing.
Whatever you might need a smart collar to do, there's bound to be one that suits. PetPace is focused on tracking your pet's health, including temperature, breathing, heart rate, activity levels and calories consumed and burned. If it detects any unusual readings, it can notify the owner and even the local vet, via text message or email.
Tagg does much the same, but adds GPS location data, allowing owners to keep track of their pets. Users define an area for the dog or cat to roam in – say, a 50-m perimeter around the house – and the collar will send an alert if they wander further than that. Tagg can work with other devices, like Pod and Whistle, to locate them if they do go walkabout.
Wüf, on the other hand, does all of that, and throws in features like two-way audio to let owners hear and talk to their dogs, play training games, and walk them on a proximity-based "invisible leash." The catch? It's not out until (Northern Hemisphere) Spring 2017.
Cat Exercise Wheel
Dogs are relatively easy to keep within a backyard, but fences are no match for a cat. If, for the good of the neighborhood, you prefer to keep your feline friend indoors, an exercise wheel can help them blow off a little steam.
Essentially a big hamster wheel, One Fast Cat's device is designed to give any house cat their own running track, to keep them healthy, stress-free and entertained. It's 50 inches (127 cm) across and easy to set up, and the company says that it suits any breed of cat, as well as small dogs, ferrets, and – why not? – armadillos.
The One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel is available for $199.
Buy now from Amazon
Bios Urn for Pets
It's something nobody wants to think about, but sooner or later we're going to have to face it ... one day our beloved pet will die. Rather than be destined for an undignified hole in the yard, the Bios Urn for Pets allows their memory to live on in the form of a tree, grown from the ashes of the departed.
The Bios Urn has been available since 1997 as an alternative way to memorialize human loved ones, and the company has now extended the idea to pets. The top section contains a nutrient-rich soil mix to give the seed a head start, and as it grows, the urn will guide the roots down toward the ashes in the lower part. The urn itself is biodegradable so it can be buried in the yard, although the company plans to offer the Incube soon, a smart pot to keep the plant indoors.
The Bios Urn for Pets is available for $145.
Buy now from Amazon
Poopy Cat cardboard playhouses
We'd be tempted to buy our pets one of Samsung's ridiculously high-tech playhouses, but knowing them, they'd probably get bored and prefer to play with in the cardboard box it came in. Poopy Cat has taken advantage of that sort of behavior with its line of flatpack cardboard playhouses.
Blocks is a modular kit of cubes, beams, tunnels, bridges and ramps, which can be pieced together however you or your pet like. Different packs and add-ons can be bought to flesh it out, and it all assembles fairly easily.
For less of a jungle gym and more a cool place to laze around, the Landmarks line includes cat-friendly, cardboard recreations of world icons like the Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx and the White House.
The basic Blocks package starts at $69, while the Landmarks are available from $64.
Kids of the 70s and 80s probably remember Simon, the memory game of lights, sounds and colors. CleverPet is essentially that, but for dogs. And you'd be surprised how good our furry friends can be at the game when there's food on offer.
Like some of the others on this list, the CleverPet is designed to keep dogs entertained while they're home alone. Before you leave, fill the device with a few cups of kibble, and to get at it, your dog will need to play a series of increasingly-difficult games.
At first, he only needs to press any of the three touch-sensitive pads to get the reward, but as he learns and gets better, the game will require more complex input, like touching a pad that lights up a certain color (all within a dog's visual spectrum, of course), pressing buttons in sequence, or responding to commands that the owner has pre-recorded.
Through a companion app, you can monitor progress, change the game or difficulty level, and set up a schedule for the device.
The CleverPet is available for $299.
Buy now from CleverPet
Take a look at all the above gadgets in action in the video below: