Furry fun

In this edition of our monthly Gadget column, we examine gadgets for pets.



After a long day at work, we often want to crash on the sofa for a night of television. Our butt hitting the cushion is the universal signal for the household cat(s) to become hyperactive. We love our pets, but it’s tough being a purrfect parent. Entertain your cat with Sphero. Sphero is a robotic, glowing ball—slightly larger than a tennis ball—with sensors, a gyro, and an accelerometer, all controlled by your iPhone or Android smartphone so you can send it whirling down the hall or around corners. While not the toy’s primary function, it is perfect for playing a game of cat and mouse. The tough little ball can take a beating—running into walls, for example—but it shouldn’t be dropped or thrown so keep this away from dogs or stairs. At $130, this is probably the most expensive cat toy you’ll ever purchase, but the hours of creative uses derived from the apps justifies the price for geeks and robot aficionados. $130.



When people leave the house, pets get sad but, unfortunately, some pets get depressed, anxious, and extremely distressed. Meant to run free outside, it’s never fun to have to leave a dog indoors while you go to work, but it could break your heart if doing so left them emotionally distraught. So, while the Thundershirt is meant to be worn by the dog, its calming effect will benefit both pet and owner. The Thundershirt wraps around the neck and front legs and pulls snug to create constant pressure. The idea is that this hugging force calms the animal and helps alleviate separation anxiety. Tested on my incredibly anxious dog, there were noticeable improvements, but the Thundershirt doesn’t work magic. Still, for $40, it’s worth the peace of mind to know that you’re doing what you can without having to resort to puppy pills and doggy downers. Also available for cats, I’ve always found cats don’t get depressed, they just get bitchy. $40.

Pet Water Bottle


Summer is the time to hydrate and not just with Margaritas and beer by the pool. Water keeps us fueled through the hot days, and our pets are no different. Walking around the neighborhood or hiking in the hills, ThinkGeek’s Pet Water Bottle with Rolling Ball is an excellent way to keep Fido watered. When dogs drink from most water bottles, 90 percent of the water ends on the ground. This stainless steel, BPA-free bottle has a metal ball in the opening, just like you’d find on a hamster or rabbit water feeder. When the dog licks at the mouth of the bottle, he gets all the water he wants with minimal spill. The 24-ounce bottle fits in bike cup holders or backpacks so it’s portable, and with the amount of water you rescue from spilling, it will be enough for almost any walk in the park. ThinkGeek.com. $18.