Love pets. Love phones. Now, how do we integrate the two? You know, stop your perfect pet-selfie moment from being ruined when your cat flees in terror? And avoid dropping your phone into your cat's litter box when you're changing it? All those really crucial things you've been dying to know about. We've got answers. Just in time for International Cat Day.
We can only think of one appropriate way to celebrate International Cat Day: by slavishly immortalising our pets on social media.
Photographing our cats looking cute and cuddly (or sitting on pizza. Awww). Making cat-themed memes and GIFs. Downloading appealing apps for them so they paw at our phones and tablets and make us feel the gentle glow of successful pet parenting…
You see, everyone has a phone. And lots of people have a cat (or dog, guinea pig or tortoise, particularly if you’ve got someone under the age of 10 living under your roof).
So it’s only natural that the two things we love most on the planet have some sort of relationship. As our phones have become more and more integral to every aspect of our lives, they’ve become more essential for our pets, too. Hands up if you’ve recently purchased some wearable tech for your pet? Or if you’ve tried to use your pet hedgehog’s paw on your phone’s fingerprint scanner instead of your own finger?
What, just us?
What we call love, others call psychotic obsession. But even they’re intrigued. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure your pet and phone live harmoniously together. One warning? If you’re not a pet owner, this is likely to inspire you to become one.
The perfect pet shot, every time (or should we say purr-fect?)
Much like photographing small children, trying to get a flattering snap of your dog, cat or goldfish is a bit like chasing around a wobbly, hyper, slightly drunk friend who has a) no interest in being photographed and b) no incentive to stop running around like a lunatic.
We suggest bribery – holding treats in your hand while snapping can result in your dog/cat/mouse adopting a pseudo-military, almost-regal pose that actually has them looking extremely well-behaved, dignified and nothing like your pet ever looks in real life. Much like the rest of your social media pics, then.
NB: Trying to give treats and snap William Wegman worthy shots of your pet simultaneously will likely require an assistant. But it’s totally worth it to help you preserve the facade of being a functional dog owner, rather than a person whose shoulder is dislocated every time you try to take Rover for a walk.
One potential downside to using distractions in pet photography? Holding a ball or treat can, occasionally, have the opposite effect and cause dogs to look away from where they’re supposed to and stare longingly in the wrong direction, at the object of their desire. There’s an accessory to help: Pooch Selfie, the four-legged equivalent of a selfie stick, which features a squeaky tennis ball attachment that you stick to the top of your phone to help your pet stay focused and looking where they’re meant to be looking.
Other tips to get the perfect pet snap? Take loads of ’em. Also, get down to the pet’s level – you’ll make them feel more at ease, and can capture details you might not otherwise have noticed. Finally, be sure to use natural light – pointing a flash in your cat’s eyes is only going to scare the poor thing, not produce the theatrically lit shot you were going for.
Look down at your wrist: you’re probably rocking a Fitbit, Samsung Gear Fit2, Apple Watch or some other kind of fitness tracker. Maybe you’re even more adventurous than that and your T-shirt is connected to your smartphone and currently boosting the oxygen supply to your muscles? We can’t imagine not tracking our health through our smartphones, so it’s only natural that we’ve moved on to checking the health of our precious pets, too.
FitBark lets you track your dog’s activity, sleep and behaviour and is compatible with your Fitbit or Jawbone, as well as your iPhone’s health app. Use it to keep track of how much you feed your dog and assess how often they should be exercising. It can also help you spot any potential health issues before they get serious, and can track how your dog’s treatment for a specific condition is going. FitBark also monitors how your dog’s getting along with the local dog walker or your friends if you’re at work or away on holiday.
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of any pet owner quite like the possibility of losing a beloved dog or cat. A GPS-tracking collar like the Whistle or Tractive will help you locate your cat or dog, anytime, anywhere. Tractive’s designs are waterproof, feature an integrated light and – for the aesthetically motivated – even come in a version that’s studded in Swarovski crystals. We all know there’s no reason to stop Fifi dressing in the style she’s become accustomed to.
Playtime! Food! Fun stuff!
For pet owners who don’t have the luxury of bringing their pets to work or working remotely, spending those 8 hours+ away from Fido each day is torture. Which is why Petcube Play was invented: it’s an indoor pet camera that lets you check up on your pets when you’re out. The built-in laser toy lets you play around with your furry baby from afar, and there’s even a feature which allows you to talk to your pet. Because you know you want to. Petcube also has a remote feeding device, which spits treats out, and pet security options for every room in the house. Looking for a more low-key approach to pet security? iCam Pro is a free app (get iCam Pro from iOS) that lets you keep track of your pooch or kitty from a distance.
Nestle Purina Petcare might be known for producing pet food, but it’s also the go-to brand for super-fun, free pet games. Cat Fishing 2 lets your cat paw after the catch of the day, while Friskies Jitterbug encourages your cat to catch as many bugs as possible. And Game for Cats (also free), from Little Hiccup, is a cat-and-mouse, cat-and-laser and cat-and-butterfly chasing game.
As any pet owner will attest, one of the best aspects of owning a pet is the social one. You take your dog for walks to meet other dogs and get papped like a celeb in the street and pretend to be annoyed when your cat chases around all the neighbours’ cats through your terraced-house gardens (but secretly love all your new cat-people friends).
Wag! is the preferred app for dog walking and boarding, so you can schedule a walk whenever you need. And then track the walk while it’s happening for peace of mind (yes all pet people are crazy. Part of their charm). And popular app BorrowMyDoggy lets non-pet-owners get a taste of the doggie life, by volunteering to take dogs for walks or overnight stays.
Nervous pet? There’s an app for that, too. Cat Relax provides a soothing musical atmosphere to help reassure your cat (essential if you’re embarking on a trip and they’re worried travellers). Calm Your Dog offers the equivalent for canines.
Now, excuse us while we go cuddle Felix. And start manically downloading all of these…