Welcome to Critter Corner, an irregular feature in which we’re going to talk about all things related to pets. We promise copious cat photos.
(feature image via Shutterstock)
“Man, I really wish I could text my cat right now.” I’ve said this often, and meant it wholeheartedly. I’ve lived with my little calico for five years, and we’re best buds. I think of our relationship less as pet ownership and more as a really solid interspecies friendship, in which one of us buys food and pays rent in exchange for kitten snuggles and a mouse-free apartment. When I’m away from the house, I miss her like crazy, and find myself wondering what the hell she’s up to, how she’s feeling, if she has chased any interesting shadows or bugs today. Presumably, she is napping, grooming herself, and thinking about napping, totally oblivious to my separation anxiety.
For pet owners who feel an equal level of crazy, an invention called PetChatz is here to answer your prayers. With this simple device that plugs into any electronic outlet and connects to your WiFi, you can see, hear and talk to your pet, while the device dispenses “low calorie, natural and holistic” treats and (if you wish) comforting scents. You can check in on your PC, tablet or even your phone. For only $350, your dog, cat, hamster or whatevs can learn to experience the side of you that’s less maternal caretaker, and more psychotic girlfriend with zero boundaries who is constantly calling to see where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re thinking about.
Look how comforted and excited the dog in this video is! Thankfully this woman seems to be the only person working in her office, so nobody else has to hear her babytalk from over the cubicle walls.
The discovery of this device has led me to do some serious soul-searching. Does my cat miss me as much as I miss her? Would she actually come when this machine played its little song to summon her? Can I fill this thing with M&M’s and use it to lure Intern Grace into Google Hangout? If my animal did have profound separation anxiety, would this help in any way? According to Psychology Today, most dogs aren’t really able to pick out moving images on TV, so would they be able to recognize their person on the webcam screen? According to Margaret Duxbury, an animal behavior professor at the University of Minnesota, animals who spent more time watching television with their owners were more likely to be able to recognize and/or respond to their owners using PetChatz than animals who didn’t. Does this mean that you should make sure your dog is in the room when you watch QVC? Unclear.
If you have $350 burning a hole in your pocket and can’t bear the idea of your precious gerbil spending eight hours alone, PetChatz is for you. Maybe. Let me know how it goes.