Fitness-related technology is the thing of the moment. Everyone has become obsessed with using technology to count their calorie consumption, record their daily steps, monitor their sleeping patterns, and measure their cardiovascular activity. There are multiple gadgets and apps on the market related to fitness, with new innovations becoming available almost daily. This market is powered by a greater understanding of health-related issues thanks to better health education. People also have a growing desire to take control of their own health and fitness, and many people have a fascination with data and statistics.
The wearable fitness market device is growing so fast that Statista estimates that this market will be worth 1.1 billion by 2022. This is also a market that is spreading into the pet industry, especially as cat and dog obesity is becoming such an issue. People are keen to help their pets live a better standard of life by improving their health and reduce their risk of suffering problems. However, there have also been some criticisms of the accuracy of devices for both humans and pets. With this in mind, one woman, Rosie Hewitson, decided to try a fitness tracker out on a cat and she reports her findings on Vice. She decided not to use her own cats as one is too moody and the other is an old lady cat. Instead, she used her friend Izzy’s cat as a volunteer for her mini-study.
The cat is a Maine Coon called Kubrick who spends all night out on the town. His owner reports that when he comes home in the mornings, he has a distinct smell of salmon. Hewitson thought it would be interesting to find out what Kubrick got up to on his nightly adventures. To conduct her investigation, she had to choose a pet fitness device to track his activity. Hewitson found that there is a vast array of products available, each of which has its own pros and cons. She eventually spent under $50 on the Tractive IKATI. It is one of the newest products on the market and offers both GPS tracking and an activity monitor.
To use the device, you must also pay a small monthly subscription fee to access the data collected from the app. The tracker is attached to the cat’s collar and then the app collects data including activity levels and location. The level of activity of the cat is categorized into three categories; lazy, active, and dynamic. This allows users to see when their cat is most active. The more active the cat is, the more pet points they collect. Users can then trade a pet point to compare their cat’s activity level to the activity of other cats that are wearing the device. Another feature of the app is the virtual safety fence. This allows users to set up a one around their house where they do not want their cat to leave. If your cat goes beyond this point, the app gives you a warning notification.
Users can also opt to use the live mode, which updates the location of the cat every five seconds, so you will always know where to find your feline friend. This is fantastic as it could reduce the number of cats that go missing each year. On the other hand, most people wouldn’t need to sit looking at their cat’s activity so rigorously. After Hewitson had fitted Kubrick with his new device, they let him out for his nightly stroll around the streets of London. Hewitson found the app quite addictive at first as it was such a novelty being able to track the activity of a cat. Over the first few days, she was constantly tracking Kubrick’s activity. She found it fascinating to watch him when he was most active at night, and he even made it out of his virtual safety fence on one occasion. Hewitson has likened the experience of using the app as being like checking on your social media constantly.
However, this novelty soon wore off and Kubrick began to wonder just how useful this information is in reality. While it was interesting to watch Kubrick in his most active periods, she wondered what the information really revealed about him. The data showed that sometimes the cat was very active and that at other times he could have been more active. Provided with this information, what can a cat owner actually do about it to get their cat more active? Having the app telling you that your cat is three blocks away and they have not been active enough in the last hour is almost useless information. What can you do? It is not like you will put on your sneakers and go and tell the cat he should go and take a fitness class to up his activity levels in the next hour.
Hewitson claims that she discovered just one interesting piece of information during the week that she tracked Kubrick’s activity. Despite the cat spending approximately 40 percent of his days sleeping, his nights on the prowl allowed him to enjoy more activity than most humans during the day. She says that Kubrick was covering a longer distance on his little legs during his nightly strolls than she is covering on her much longer legs during the day.
Health experts recommend that humans set themselves a goal of walking at least 10,000 steps per day to maintain good health, says Very Well Fit. However, less than half of the people in the United States are achieving this goal. While the pet fitness tracker revealed very little to Hewitson about the cat’s health, it did show her she needs to up her game and increase her own activity levels to meet the recommended activity goals for humans. So, her own health may have benefited from her short study even if it revealed very little about the cat’s health.