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Your pets can play with gadgets, too

Most of your pets' technology exposure has come from the devices you've pointed at or put on them -- photos taken with your phone or camera (which they've probably ruined in some way), electronic collars that keep them from wandering out of your yard, or even devices that can track their movements or take photos of their daily routines. They don't know what you're holding in your hand, and they haven't been given much reason to care -- until now. Many companies are seeing an untapped market in pets and tech-loving owners, unleashing upon the world apps and other gadgets that take a lot of the human element out of your pets' technology interaction.

One of the newest entries to this emerging app market is an Android app called Snapcat, which allows your cats to take pictures of themselves, aka "selfies" -- though somewhat unintentionally. The app shows a red dot that, if your cat is like most cats, they will be compelled to chase. When their paw succeeds in "catching" the red dot, the app takes a photo. You then have the option of editing the photo using Aviary (a photo-editing site) before sending it off to Facebook or Twitter to delight (or annoy) your friends and relatives.

Snapcat (Free for Android)

Cats belonging to iPhone and iPad owners need not feel left out though; there's a different app available for iOS called Cat Selfie ($0.99 in the App Store) that pretty much says it all in the name -- like Snapcat, it also lets cats take photos of themselves by touching the screen, but instead of a red dot it's a "flaming" laser pointer that they follow across the screen.

Of course, there's a slightly selfish benefit for the cat's owner, as well -- lots of cute, delightful, amusing photos to share online. What if you just wanted your cat to have a little fun without putting them on display? Well, there are apps like Game for Cats (free for iOS) and Crazy Cat (Android) that entice your cat to play with the screen, and don't take photos. Which is probably good, because there's only so many cat selfies you can post on Facebook before people start blocking you.

Crazy Cat (Free for Android)

Dogs aren't so easily amused by moving dots on a screen, though. You'll have to let them outside once in a while. But when you give your dog freedom there's always a bit of worry that they'll wander off. However, if you use something like Tagg you won't have to worry so much. Tagg is literally a GPS tag that you attach to your dog's collar, and then you can track their movements using the app for your phone. Are they walking a lot? Have their gone too far? Tagg will let you know, and even send you a message when they start to wander.

Tagg (GPS collar available for $99.95, app free for iOS or Android)

Of course, the number of electronic toys for your dog or cat to play with will only increase with time, and even across species. Researchers are working on project called Playing with Pigs to play where they chase a spot of light on the wall and when they catch it, it "explodes" like a firework. Because even swine need to unwind once in a while.

Photo: Fanch Sans colorant et Sans conservateur