Technology is changing the way we care for our pets, such as Inky here, but it also presents a threat we need to be aware of.
Technology is changing the way we care for our pets, such as Inky here, but it also presents a threat we need to be aware of. contributed BUN190916PETS23

OPINION: Our high-tech pets present new challenges

PETER-Kenneth is a medical miracle.

As a short-haired domestic cat, he has extended his life expectancy several times over the past six years.

He has survived being run over by a neighbour's car, being hit by a golf ball and even being groomed within an inch of his life by a golden retriever which also thinks it's a cat.

What belies the miracle that is Peter-Kenneth is the technology that has gone into being a modern-day pet.

Peter-Kenneth can be tracked anywhere. Motion sensors applied to a mobile application can transmit his movements to a smartphone of our choosing so that we can determine whether our grey-matter-challenged cat is responsible for the scratch marks on our bathroom door.

His microchip implant enables councils and some veterinary practices to easily identify him and return to sender.

He's too intellectually challenged to pose any real risk to native animals or habitats. The only risk he poses is to himself and the mental health of his owners.

But our domestic animals may pose some interesting privacy challenges.

Such as to children who are caught up in domestic and family violence situations, as the electronic devices we apply and implant within our pets could enable the detection of our whereabouts by deduction.

Smartphones have and can be used by perpetrators of domestic and family violence to locate families who have been removed from these situations.

The pet locating technology market is booming and Australian companies are getting in on the act.

There are pet locating technologies now that come with SIM cards so that the service provider can actually call you to tell you where your beloved pet is, even before you know it's missing.

Implants and related identifying technologies now include GPS monitoring. These services can tell you where your pet actually goes to do its business, to socialise, or in the case of Peter-Kenneth, generally lull neighbours into a false sense of security that he is to be trusted.

He is never to be trusted.

Friends of mine in Canberra have gone the extra mile with Bill, their Thai Siamese cat.

They live in an apartment where the second bathroom is completely devoted to Bill's use. Their toilet has a sensor that can tell when Bill pops off the loo and needs a hand with flushing.

It's amazing for a number of reasons, least of which is how much Bill has his owners wrapped around his little paw.

In fact the whole apartment has a series of tunnels and interconnecting cat flaps like you would expect of Stalag 17 from Hogan's Heroes.

So, before you find yourself being almost hypnotised by a species that has questionable intellect, think through how much advancement in technology you are willing to apply to your pet and what this might mean for you and your family's privacy.

Oh, gotta run. Peter K's wanting some of that honey leg ham he's become addicted to.

* Dr David Lacey is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast and Managing Director of IDCARE.



WHAT THE DUCK? Why these animals are hitting the streets

WHAT THE DUCK? Why these animals are hitting the streets

They're small, fluffy, cute and have absolutely no road sense.

REVEALED: P&O’s next big 'Grand Class' Aussie ship

REVEALED: P&O’s next big 'Grand Class' Aussie ship

It will be the biggest ship ever to join P&O Australia’s fleet

Bid for the Supercars to race into Rocky speeds up

premium_icon Bid for the Supercars to race into Rocky speeds up

Sister of Supercar driver keen to bring big race to Rocky

Local Partners