KONG, iPet Companion bring new technology to shelter pets

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One of the neatest parts of my job is being able to keep up on the pet industry, which can obviously be fun at times. But who knew keeping up on the pet industry could also help me learn a bit about some new technology as well? That happened when I came across an article about an online app that allows you to virtually “play” with shelter cats.

Basically, a toy is set up in the shelter and is somehow connected to the buttons on the website. When a user (such as myself) goes to that page, I can see the cats in the play area sleeping, eating or doing whatever. I can choose to press and hold one of three buttons by clicking my mouse, and each button makes a different toy spin, swirl or shake. Sometimes, the cats are too busy napping or keeping to themselves. But a few times, the moving of the toy piques a cat’s curiosity, and he or she comes to check out the commotion.

Besides being entertaining for the human user from afar, this technology has done great things for the six shelters involved in the “testing” phase, according to ipetcompanion.com. For example, iPet Companion’s website says:

After just a few weeks of installing iPet Companion, Oregon Humane Society saw the following response:

  • 18% increase in kitten adoptions
  • 295% increase in sponsorships
  • 52% sustained increase in overall web traffic

That is wonderful! While I believe it is still in the beginning phases, it is great to know that people from potentially all over the world can help shelters and the cats in them just by taking two minutes from their day to click a few buttons. I can only imagine how busy shelter volunteers are, and so genuine play time for each cat must be tough to come by. But having the general public be able to virtually play is genius, because all parties receive satisfaction.

This has huge implications for many in the pet industry, besides just in life. We often (unfortunately) have to leave me cat home alone for a night or so and I always feel bad doing it. She must get so lonely! While it is not the same thing as the physical presence of being there, using a tool like this would at least at allow my fiance and I to interact with our cat while we’re gone. We’d get to “socialize” with her momentarily while also helping her get a bit more exercise.

I encourage you to try out the app and share your thoughts. Who can think of any other ways this type of technology could be used?

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