Looking after the family pet has gone high tech with facial recognition, locator devices and pet doors controlled by phone a few of the new tools to keep tabs on cats and dogs.

The big brother type advances not only mean lost pets are reunited with families sooner but they aim to stop them getting lost or injured in the first place.

New Zealand's largest database of pets has just adopted Positive Identification of Pet or 'PiP' facial recognition software - usually more common with catching crims than cats.

PiP facial recognition has just been introduced by the New Zealand Companion Animal Register. Photo / supplied
PiP facial recognition has just been introduced by the New Zealand Companion Animal Register. Photo / supplied

Nygllhuw Morris of New Zealand Companion Animal Register (NZCAR) said there had been a flood of people registering their pets on the site - and it has already had success with one pet reunited with its owner.

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All pet owners have to do is visit the site to upload a photo of their cat or dog and if their pet goes missing the software scans thousands of lost pet images for a match.

"It uses amazing technology that can compare thousands of images and narrow it down to just a few," Morris told the Weekend Herald.

PiP facial recognition software can easily tell the difference between similar cats such as cousins Milo (left) and Leo (right).
PiP facial recognition software can easily tell the difference between similar cats such as cousins Milo (left) and Leo (right).

"It doesn't look at colour but at the exact position and size of eyes, ears, mouth. It is very accurate."

The technology is so smart it can tell the difference between cats people have trouble telling apart.

Morris said pets without a microchip had a 25 to 40 per cent chance of being reunited with their owner. For pets with a microchip that chance jumps to 85 per cent.

Facial recognition boosts that further to 95 per cent.

PiP facial recognition takes exact measurements of features and contours of the pet's face and can link up lost and found pets.
PiP facial recognition takes exact measurements of features and contours of the pet's face and can link up lost and found pets.

Improvements to other gadgets such as GPS and locator devices and microchip pet doors that can be controlled by phone are also helping to reduce the number of lost and injured animals.

Inquisitive felines Leo and Clover have most of their nine lives intact because of a "Tabcat" locator disc.

The handheld remote control works by radio frequency and uses lights and beeps to direct you to your pet's exact location.

Owners Mila and Pippa Lynch-Blosse have found their cats in the neighbour's garage, in the ceiling space and even several streets away.

The Sure Petcare Microchip Petdoor Connect allows owners to see where their pet is and control door via smartphone
The Sure Petcare Microchip Petdoor Connect allows owners to see where their pet is and control door via smartphone

The Lynch-Blosse household also has a Sure Petcare microchip cat door which can be locked and unlocked via a smartphone app.

New cat app technology. Pictured is Mila Lynch-Blosse with cat Leo and Pippa Lynch-Blosse with cat clover. Photo / Doug Sherring
New cat app technology. Pictured is Mila Lynch-Blosse with cat Leo and Pippa Lynch-Blosse with cat clover. Photo / Doug Sherring

It means Leo and Clover can be kept inside at the touch of a button and their owners know if they are inside or out.

Raewyn Carter of Sure Petcare said the world's first app-controlled pet door, which was introduced to New Zealand just months ago, had been a huge success.

"It really is a fantastic product.

"Owners can also set a curfew to keep their pets indoors at specified times during the day or night."

The app sends an alert to the phone (with an audible meow) when a cat has entered or left the house to give peace of mind.

The Sure Petcare petdoor connect sends an alert to the owner's phone when a cat enters or leaves the house.
The Sure Petcare petdoor connect sends an alert to the owner's phone when a cat enters or leaves the house.

The company has also released a cat feeder that will only open with the correct microchip to stop intruder cats stealing biscuits.

In November there are plans to launch an improved feeder controlled by smartphone.

Nygllhuw Morris said he was thrilled with all of the advancements that helped keep pets safe.
"We get great satisfaction when we get a match and can reunite a lost pet with their owner," Morris said.

NZCAR has 3500 lost pets on its database at any one time so technologies such as GPS and tracker devices and remote cat doors were welcome advances.

"We urge everyone to have their pets microchipped for a start but anything to help keep pets safe and at home is fantastic."

"There are improvements each day to products and they are also becoming more affordable."