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6 Products That Prove Pets and Clean Homes Can Coexist

woman on couch with dog
Photo: iStock
You’ve got pet problems. We’ve got pet solutions.

I'm literally living in an animal house. Besides my own corgi, Hank, and tuxedo cat, Nelson, my husband and I regularly pet sit for friends. This past weekend, for example, we took in an additional two felines, nudging the animal-to-human ratio to a precarious 4 to 2. Add to that the fact that we live in New York, a city not exactly known for its spacious living quarters, and you can see where I'm going with this.

Lucky for us—and all pet owners—there's no shortage of innovative products to help solve animal-specific problems and behaviors like foul odors, prolific shedding and, my personal favorite, clawed-up couches and chairs. The best of these combine technology and common sense to keep your cat and dog happy, your home fresh-smelling and clean, and your sanity in check.

  1. The Problem: Kibble- and water-bowl overflow

    The Solution: Neater Feeder for dogs and cats, from $20, NeaterFeeder.com

    We learn as toddlers not to play with our food. Dogs and cats, not so much. There are many animals out there who get a great kick out of splashing around in their water bowl or tipping over their food bowl (just to drive us crazy, am I right?). Enter the Neater Feeder, a system for funneling spillover from both bowls into separate chambers. At first glance, it looks like any other elevated feeding setup, except it's designed with protective walls and a drainage system that filters spilled water into a lower reservoir while stray morsels stay up top.

  2. The Problem: Stinky litter-box odor

    The Solution: Litter-Robot III Open Air, from $449, LitterRobot.com

    It's recommended that you clean Fluffy's litter box at least once a day. In the real world, though, it might be two or more days between scooping, until the stench coming from that corner of the house finally drifts toward your unsuspecting nostrils. You need an automatic self-cleaning box, stat. The popular Litter Robot has a weight-sensitive switch that detects when your cat goes in to do her business. When she's done, the Space Age–looking contraption waits seven minutes for the waste to clump, then slowly rotates, sifting the clean litter from the clumps and dropping the waste into a carbon-filtered drawer in the base. The best part? You only need to dump the drawer every seven to 10 days. It's truly the lazy pet owner's best friend.

  3. The Problem: Tumbleweeds of pet hair

    The Solution: Dyson Ball Animal 2, $500, and Cyclone V10 cord-free vacuum, $700, Dyson.com

    Depending on the breed of your critter and how many you have, trying to keep your floors and furniture relatively fur free can feel like a full-time job. (As the owner of a highly prolific shedder, I assure you the struggle is real.) The only solution? Regular vacuuming. But not just any old vacuum will do. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is an upright dedicated to busting pet hair, with a tangle-free turbine tool to suck up hair from carpet and upholstery. Its technology maximizes suction, which also means more allergens and dust particles are picked up too. For quick daily cleanups, you'll want the new cordless Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute on hand. It can be used as both a stick and a handheld vac, which means it's easy to really get in there and clean every fur-filled nook and cranny—not to mention pick up dog food spills or errant cat litter. A full charge can power it for a whopping 60 minutes, and it has specialized cleaner heads for carpet and hard floors.

  4. ​The Problem: Furniture as stand-in scratching posts

    The Solution: Sofa Scram, $30, HiTecPet.com

    Nothing pains a pet owner more than buying a beautiful new couch only to see it torn to shreds in a matter of months. Scratching is a natural instinct for cats, but that doesn't make it easier for us humans to stand back and watch. If your feline makes a beeline for your favorite furniture (while zipping right past that fancy scratching post you bought him), we recommend the Sofa Scram mat. It's simple technology that really works—and it's affordable to boot! Simply place the battery-operated mat on your couch or chair where it's instantly activated at the touch of a paw. The mat will emit 85-decibel beeps, a safe but nonetheless startling sound that'll deter claw-crazy cats, and dogs looking for a cozy place to doze too.

  5. The Problem: Misbehaving when home alone

    The Solution: Petzi Smart Treat Dispenser, $170, to be released August 2018 on Petzi.com

    Fact: Dogs don't like to be left by themselves. Every dog owner can recall a time they came home after a day or night out to find the kitchen garbage strewn on the floor, or a shoe chewed to bits. Leave it to Silicon Valley to come up with a solution. The Petzi Smart Treat Dispenser is an app-controlled, Wi-Fi-connected remote treat dispenser and camera. Mount it on a wall or set it on a bookshelf, and once you're away, use the app to activate it and call out to Fido. When he comes running over, you can snap a cute pic of his excited little mug, then dispense a small treat from the attached treat launcher. For an animal with separation anxiety, it's a whole lot more fun than doggy antidepressants—for you and him.

  6. The Problem: Muddy paw prints—everywhere

    The Solution: The PawPlunger, from $15, PawPlunger.com

    Even on a dry sunny day, taking your four-legged friend out for a walk means bringing back dirt, dust, grime and a lot of other nasty stuff you'd rather not think about into your house, via your pooch's paws. And on a rainy or snowy day? Forget it. Unless, that is, you have the ingenious little contraption known as the PawPlunger nearby. It looks like an oversize travel mug with soft bristles on the inside. Fill it with water and gently plunge puppy's paws, one at a time, into it. The bristles work to loosen soil and other muck stuck in his paw pads and surrounding fur. It might take a while for your dog to get used to the routine, but if keeping your floors squeaky clean (or as close to it as you can get as a pet owner) is a priority, the PawPlunger is worth it.

    The Nest and Dyson present Power Players, a sponsored series featuring high-tech products and ideas for your home. Visit Dyson to check out the latest must-haves.