PetChatz is the first device that allows pet owners to interact with their furry companions from a distance. More than just a supervision tool, it engages all the senses of dogs and cats, bringing them close to their owners no matter how far they’re located. PetChatz could be the solution for separation anxiety, but does it really work?
PetChatz device is the first release of Anser Innovation, a company based in Minnesota. It became available at the end of 2014, and it’s described as a “greet and treat videophone”. And it’s a pretty accurate description, because it allows owners to see, hear and offer treats to their pets. At the same time, the pets can see and hear them, so the experience is as interactive as it could be. And it even manages to engage their sense of smell, so pets easily learn to associate the device with their owners.
Furthermore, PetChatz has a very simple, sleek design that makes it difficult to chew or break apart by pets. They might be tempted to, since the device is also a treat dispenser, but apparently it’s very sturdy. And it looks nice enough to fit in any home, although it’s not very easy to notice anyway. It’s supposed to be mounted over an electrical outlet, where it’s not eye catching but can be easily accessed by pets. But it should be kept in mind that PetChatz is designed specifically for dogs and cats and no other animals. Even if it seems absolutely harmless and it should work for many other pets. The company makes it very clear on the official website. And since they felt like this detail is important, there’s probably a good reason why those who don’t own dogs or cats should avoid the device.
How does PetChatz work?
Outside electrical energy, all that PetChatz requires is an internet connection. Specifically, a Wi-Fi connection with an upload speed of at least 2Mb. The device doesn’t use any cables so Ethernet is out of the question, but this was the only safe choice. PetChatz doesn’t have any elements that could be chewed by pets, so it’s not only durable but also not a choking hazard. And connecting it to the network is very easy, just like mounting it. It comes with a bracket and even the most inexperienced users can set it up.
After the device is connected, users can access it through computers, smartphones and tablets. Purchasing the product implies creating a client account on the website, and the same profile can be used to access the device. From there, users can turn on the device and check their pets at any time, with no time limits on the calls. And the pets will always notice it, because PetChatz uses an actual ringtone. At the same time, the pets can contact their owners themselves, although not directly. The device detects motion and sounds, and it can be set up to send text notifications to the users.
But those who want to contact their pets on the run can use the app, although at the moment it’s only available for iOS devices. The Android version is still in development, but PetChatz users with iOS 8.1.1 and up can access the device with no issues. The app has the same functionalities as the website, including treat and scent dispensing.
PetChatz holds 100 small treats, and they’re included in the initial package. They’re fit for both dogs and cats and very healthy, as it seems that the company has put a lot of thought into choosing them. They’re free of corn, wheat, soy, artificial flavor and other damaging substances, and while they’re rather expensive, they’re worth their price. Also, PetChatz users who want to refill the dispenser don’t really have other choice than ordering from the company.
Because while many types of treats could fit inside it, they might cause damage. The treats must have a specific shape and weight to be dispensed correctly, and other products could jam the device, which would void the warranty. Also, while PetChatz only dispenses one treat at a time, nothing stops users from dispensing however many they want in a row. And the app (and website) keeps track of the number of treats given each day, so users are not in danger of overfeeding the pets by mistake. Also, users will be notified when the amount of treats gets low, so pets will never be disappointed when expecting a treat.
Along with treats, PetChatz also dispenses a specific scent that comes from a combination of essential oils applied on a pad. The device comes with a sample bottle of oil and a pack of 10 pads that should last for weeks if not months. Each of them can be used until it starts to lose its color or its texture changes, but refills can be ordered from the company. The same is the case for the oil, although other scents can be used successfully as long as the pets like them. But this particular oil would be a better choice, because all the ingredients are harmless to pets and are proven to have calming effects. It’s a combination of jojoba, marjoram, orange, lavender, petitgrain, vetiver and chamomile. It’s not mentioned if the scent can be dispersed separately or only along the treats, but it can probably be used at any other time. It’s a great way to calm anxious pets, and they shouldn’t necessarily have to associate it with food.
But the most important trait of PetChatz is the ability to connect pet and owner through live video and sound. It uses a VGA camera so the resolution is low, especially if the lighting conditions are not the best. But it still allows owners to see exactly what their pets are doing provided that the internet connection is good. And the pets can see their owners much better since the cameras on computers and phones are better quality. Also, the videos can be recorded, complete with sound.
PetChatz HD and PawCall
But the video resolution is only this low for the original version. A newer model is now available for purchase, and delivery will begin in February. This model comes with a low-light, full HD camera. And even better, it connects to PawCall. This device is also a new release, and delivery will start in March. It’s a button that allows pets to actually call their owners, and it’s not compatible with the original model. PawCall connects to PetChatz HD (the official name of the newer model) through Bluetooth and runs on batteries, and it allows pets to contact their owners by simply pressing it. It can be attached to the floor or a wall, and it’s pretty much exactly what PawCall was missing to be 100% interactive.
Still, PawCall doesn’t let pets “call” anytime they want. Owners can turn it on when they’re free to see their pets, or they can just set a daily schedule. And when it’s ready to be used, the device displays a blinking light that lets pets know the owner is available. This is a very useful feature, and not only because is prevents pets from bothering their owners. PawCall also disperses treats, so as soon as the pet learns this, it will want to do it constantly.
Where can I find PetChatz?
PetChatz 1.0 (the original version) and PetChatz HD are available on the official website of the company. PetChatz 1.0 is priced at $349, and it’s only available for delivery to US locations and Canada. It’s shipped within 2 days of placing the order, and it shouldn’t take longer than a week to reach the clients.
PetChatz HD is available for $379.99, and delivery should start in February. PawCall on the other hand can be ordered for $99.99 and clients can expect in March. This is rather unusual, because the company also offers a package that contains both PetChatz HD and PawCall, and they might not arrive at the same time. And this package is available for $479.98, so it doesn’t come with any discounts. The clients could just as well order the products separately, and receive each when they become available.
But those who already own PetChatz 1.0 and would like to replace it with the newer version are in luck. The upgrade will only cost them $179.99, provided that they send back the previous version. Also, those who want to purchase a full size bottle of oil can order it for $14.99, while a pack of 10 oil strips is available for $5.99. The treats can be purchased in packages that contain 3 months’ supply, and will cost the clients between $29.97 and $35.94. They’re available in chicken, salmon or liver flavor, and they’re fit for both dogs and cats. And all these products are available through the website only, although the company states that they’ll reach pet shops in the near future. Also, it seems that soon they’ll be available for worldwide delivery, so foreign clients don’t have to wait much longer.
Both PetChatz versions come with a 30 days money back guarantee, and we assume that the same is the case for PawCall. But the 30 days start running when the product is purchased, not when it’s delivered. Assuming that delivery won’t take longer than a week, clients will be able to test it for 3 weeks instead of a full month. And as it happens, 3 weeks is exactly how much time pets need to adjust to PetChatz, at least according to the company. If they don’t, their owners can just contact the company and ask for a refund. Still, for the policy to apply the product must be sent back in the same condition as it arrived.
And PetChatz also comes with a 1 year warranty, which will have it replaced or repaired in case of malfunction. But it won’t apply if the device is misused. This includes using a different brand of treats, damage caused by animals, and unauthorized repairs.
What are the pros?
Since PetChatz HD has not yet reached its customers, we only have the opinions of PetChatz 1.0 users. And most of them are very happy with it. It seems that pets become accustomed to it very quickly, probably because it uses treats. It’s not easy for dogs and cats to associate an electronic device with their owners, but food will get their attention immediately. In fact, the company has a tutorial on how to train cats and dogs to use PetChatz. And while it’s recommended for the users to train their pets for 3 weeks, it’s obvious that it will take much less than that. Dogs and cats are smart, and will immediately learn to associate the ringtone with treats.
And they probably recognize their owners too. The display on the device is small, but it’s enough for the pets to see clearly. Also, they can hear their owners’ voices, and this should calm anxious pets along with the relaxing scents. And this is pretty much what many of the customers have experienced. It seems that PetChatz really is able to help pets that find it hard to be separated from their owners. Especially if they’re home alone for long hours while the owners are at work. And given how some pets manifest their unhappiness, PetChatz could end up saving money for its users. Communicating with their owners could prevent animals from becoming so anxious that they start tearing apart furniture or other objects. And just as important, this device can give pet owners peace of mind while they’re away.
Separation anxiety doesn’t only affect the pets, and many users of PetChatz are happier ever since they’ve become able to see their companions whenever they want. Not only can they see if the pets are alright, but they can hear them and give them traits. In fact, this device can be used to train pets from a distance, so the experience can be very rewarding. PetChatz benefits both pets and their owners, so it’s worth the money.
Also, many users state that the customer service is impeccable. The representatives can be contacted whenever it’s needed, and they’ll even guide the clients through the setup process. Not that it’s difficult, but some issues can be encountered.
What are the cons?
The most common complaint for PetChatz is caused by its requirement for a high speed internet connection. It just won’t work at low speeds, so potential clients should not purchase it until they have everything they need for the device. Some find it impossible to connect it, and have no other solution but send it back. Also, while the video quality is expected to be low, some clients state that it makes it impossible for them so see their pets. Even in good lighting conditions. But this too is probably caused by low internet speeds. And the same is the case for the sound issues. Both the video and the sound can disconnect at any time if the internet speed is low.
Also, while it’s very durable, PetChatz should not be used for aggressive pets. They could still manage to break it, and this would void the warranty. And for some reason, it’s not fit for other pets than dogs and cats. We imagine that a ferret (for example) would like it too, but if the company is against it, it must have its reasons.
Another issue is the Android app, which is still in development even if PetChatz has been available for a year now. The website mentions that the device is compatible with both iOS and Android, and many clients don’t notice the further details. Android shouldn’t be mentioned at all until the app is ready, because customers expect to find it on Google Play only to be disappointed.
And lastly, PetChatz is very expensive considering its specifications. It’s very useful but it’s a large investment, especially because it doesn’t work well unless specific requirements are met. Still, the device does have a money back guarantee, and the customer service is very friendly. Unhappy customers can ask for refund, so they’re not at risk of losing their hard earned money.
PetChatz is a great choice for any person that wants to stay in contact with their pet when not at home. But low speed internet connections make it almost impossible for it to function properly, so not everyone can use it. Also, it has a very high price, so it’s more of an investment than a fun gadget. Still, it can make pets happier, so it’s worth it.