Mew’ll never walk alone

The UK Office for National Statistics has noted it, the US surgeon general has warned of its dangers, the Japanese have struggled with it for years. Across the world, there’s a growing epidemic of solitude and loneliness. Forming emotional bonds with pets is one way that societies have tried to overcome the problem and, according to Ali Ganjavian from the design firm (and Moggie’s creator) Studio Banana, the relative autonomy of cats makes them the ultimate pets of the future. He also believes that their needs – and our relationship with them – are under-addressed. “Cats aren’t very visible, they spend a lot of time alone,” he says. “When I walk my dog, it’s part of my external identity. Not so much with cats.”

Moggie is a cat wearable that seeks to strengthen the bond between cat and owner by essentially making them less enigmatic and mysterious. “Cats evolved over time to hide their illnesses,” says Ganjavian. “Otherwise, in the wild, they’d be vulnerable. So it’s hard for even the best cat parent to detect changes in their health. When a dog’s not feeling well, you see and hear it. Cats just disappear, get quieter, maybe sleep a little more.”

Moggie by Studio Banana, £149,

Moggie by Studio Banana £149,

According to Ganjavian, 80 per cent of cat illnesses are manifested in changes in physical movement – the amount they walk, jump, play, eat and sleep. Moggie sits around the cat’s neck, tracking its activity, storing that data and bringing changes to your attention. Thanks to the ingenuity of some machine-learning engineers at MIT, it does so by translating the cat’s behaviour into natural language. Effectively, you get texts from your cat telling you how they’re doing: “Last night I had a 30-minute walk!”; “I’m feeling playful today!”

It may sound slightly frivolous on paper, but in practice it’s cute and rather touching. The information stored in the app also has practical value. “Vets are saying, ‘Hallelujah, I have some data to look at,’” says Ganjavian. “The tendency is that you take your cat to the vet when it’s too late. This provides knowledge to act early.” Moggie by Studio Banana, £149,

Nest friend

Netvue Birdfy Nest, £243
Netvue Birdfy Nest, £243

As someone whose interest in birds has slowly progressed from getting a bird feeder, to staring for hours at that bird feeder, to buying a bird-feeder camera, this smart bird house feels like a natural progression. The bamboo case has an exterior camera (to watch birds going in and out) and an internal one which, one hopes, will ultimately reveal some nesting and hatching. Also tucked within the case is a battery (which is topped up using an external solar panel) and a WiFi antenna. The Birdfy app keeps you informed of comings and goings, and automatically records magic moments in the cloud (stored for 30 days) to download for safe keeping. I have champagne on ice for when the blue tits move in. Netvue Birdfy Nest, £243

Dog their steps

Pivo Max, £259.99
Pivo Max, £259.99

Pivo produces a range of face- and body-tracking camera mounts for phones or tablets, the Max being the latest and most fully featured. Pair your device with the mount, slot it in the top, and it’ll follow your movements through a full 360º. Stick it on top of a tripod (Pivo does a sturdy one for £79.99) and you can immediately see why it’s a hit with TikTok-ers recording clips that demonstrate their physical dexterity, but this is a versatile, solid bit of kit. The reason it’s on this page: a firmware upgrade has just enabled dog tracking, allowing you to film Buddy or Lola as they hurtle about your local park while you run after them, waving a fluorescent ball launcher. Pivo Max, £259.99

One for the fish list

StayrAI Rein, £690

StayrAI Rein, £690

As many fish keepers know to their cost, beautiful aquariums don’t look after themselves. What appears to be a passive hobby actually involves some fairly gruelling maintenance, which needs doing carefully to keep the bioload balanced and the fish thriving. StayrAI’s range of devices monitor the nitrogen cycle and intelligently manage water changes while keeping a close watch on pH and temperature. Rein can also control any additives your coral or microcrustaceans might depend on. Devised by techy fish obsessives at the University of Munich, the app-controlled system can be precisely tailored to any individual set-up, with (genuinely helpful) AI-driven systems available to assist with creating maintenance schedules. StayrAI Rein, £690

A controlled flap

Petsafe SmartDoor, £439.99
Petsafe SmartDoor, £439.99

Presenting your cat or dog with the keys to the house is a solemn and moving moment for any pet parent. (OK, it’s the back door, and you’re tying it around their neck, but still.) This smart door allows you to set up separate permissions and schedules for each of your pets, so, for example, it can let your cat through at night while keeping your dog or kitten safe indoors, and prevent unwelcome visitors from wandering in. The door connects directly to your router (no external hub to worry about), with settings and notifications of entries and exits all controlled via the PetSafe app. Installation inevitably involves a certain amount of fingernail-biting DIY, but there’s a video guide that will help to calm any anxiety. Petsafe SmartDoor, £439.99


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