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The best pet cameras of 2021

Have you ever wondered what your pets are doing while you’re not home? Based on the torn-up furniture of weeks past, the evidence is stockpiling against that new puppy of yours — or should you blame the cat for the destruction?

Whether you want to keep tabs on your closest companions while you’re at work, out running errands, or away on vacation, there are plenty of pet cameras you can purchase that will allow you to monitor and communicate with your animals. Heck, many models even allow you to disburse treats.

As experts on all things smart home, and as lovers of cats and dogs, we’re here to help manage your household and the needs of your pet. For your consideration, here’s our roundup of the best pet cameras you can buy right now.

Petcube Bites 2

A dog and his human companions surrounding the Petcube Bites 2.

When it comes to impressive camera quality and interactive features, the Petcube Bites 2 is one of our top choices. Designed for both dogs and cats, the cam is compatible with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz network bands and can be set up in as little as two minutes (compatible with iOS 11 and Android 7.1.2 or higher).

Once connected to Wi-Fi, the Petcube app is your go-to resource. Want to see what the dog is up to? Call him over using the cam’s two-way chat function and view a live feed of the hound with the Bites’ 1080p HD lens with 160-degrees of rotation. Sun setting? The Bites’ automatic night vision should clear things up for you. If your pets tend to be mischievous while you’re away, your Bites 2 will send you both motion and sound notifications when trouble is detected.

There’s even a 1.5-pound treat dispenser for the good boys and girls of the animal kingdom. Choose between short, medium, or long-distance flings depending on what pet you’re trying to reward. If that’s enough, onboard Alexa integration means your Bites 2 can be used as a smart speaker, letting you play music for your pets, chat live with veterinarians, and order treats on the fly.

While some have argued that treat dispensing can be a bit delayed now and then, we can’t recommend the Petcube Bites 2 enough.

YI Smart Dome Security Camera

The Yl Smart Dome camera next to a smart display.

One of our favorite features of the Yl Smart Dome is that the camera is intelligent enough to differentiate between humans and animals. This means you’ll only receive the most relevant motion and sound notifications through the Yl companion app. When the Smart Dome captures a recording of a disturbance, the footage can be stored locally (with an external SD card) or in the Yl cloud (subscription required).

We also love the camera’s incredible range of motion, featuring 340-degree rotation and 95-degree tilting. Couple that with the 160-degree wide-angle lens, and you’re looking at optimal coverage of whatever room you place the Smart Dome in. When powered down, the camera lens drops behind the base casing, making it impossible for hackers to tap into a live feed of your home.

With Alexa and Google Assistant integration, as well as two-way chat, you can even speak to your pets on the go. Have an Echo Show in your home office? If you hear a noise downstairs, you can ask Alexa to pull video from the Yl Smart Dome to see what the dog is up to in the kitchen.

Pawbo Life Pet Camera

The Pawbo Life Pet Camera on a table.

How about a decent serving of fun and games for your furry friend? In addition to treat dispensing, the Pawbo Life has a built-in laser pointer that you can set up for automatic pointing or manual controls using the Pawbo companion app (for iOS and Android devices). There’s nothing like watching your cat bounce off the walls when you’re away from home.

The camera itself sports a 130-degree wide-angle lens that records and stores footage to the Pawbo app. While you’re only getting 720p HD, the image quality is sharp and balanced. Like many other mentions on this list, the Pawbo Life also features two-way chat for speaking with your pets when you log into the camera. Unfortunately, there’s no smart assistant integration to speak of with this model.

For big families that all want to get in on the surveillance action, the Pawbo app allows up to eight consecutive users to be logged in, monitoring and communicating at one time. There’s even instant social sharing, letting you grab a snapshot of your pet and then posting it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram on the fly.

While the sticker price is a bit on the high side, the Pawbo Life Pet Camera delivers top performance, great features, and one of the most robust social media experiences we’ve found in a pet camera.

Furbo Dog Camera

The Furbo Dog Camera with its mobile app opened on a smartphone.

While many cameras on our list feature bark detection, the Furbo goes a step further by allowing you to adjust barking sensitivity. The company claims that this function has saved the lives of hundreds of dogs that are stuck at home during an emergency.

The 160-degree lens delivers 1080p footage with the option of 4x digital zooming for zeroing in on your pooch from afar. If it’s dark out, night vision will kick on to ensure you can still see your pets come sunset. Two-way chatting and Alexa commands keep you connected to your animal, letting you do things like programming the Furbo to shoot out a treat every two hours.

Additionally, you can enroll in a Furbo subscription for cloud recording, smart alerts that ping you when your dog is being unruly, and a feature called Dog Diary that compiles your dog’s entire day into 60 seconds of footage.

The Alexa-ready Furbo Dog Camera is packed with plenty of dog-monitoring features, but you can also use it to check in on your cats, too.

Petcube Play 2

The Petcube Play 2 with the companion app opened next to the cam.

Like the Bites 2, Petcube’s Play 2 delivers all the best performance features we expect from a solid pet cam, but with a few bonuses thrown in. The Play 2 may be our favorite design of any pet cam we’ve spotlighted in this roundup. Tall cameras with rounded bases for treat dispensers are a common sight when shopping for pet cams, which is why the Play 2’s cubed design truly stands out amongst the competition. That being said, if you want treat dispensing, we suggest the Bites 2 instead.

In terms of visuals, you’re getting full 1080p HD, both day and night, and a 160-degree lens with 4x digital zoom. The two-way chatting and motion/sound notifications of the Bites 2 are built into the Play 2 as well, along with a laser pointer that you can set for automatic or manual controls.

For those that want more out of their Petcube Play 2, you can sign up for Petcube Care, a membership that will grant you 90 days of cloud-based event storage, automatic video recording, and bark/meow notifications.

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