A cat usually doesn't love you the way a dog does. But my cats love me. No really. They greet me at the door meowing and carrying on. Well, one of them does. The other one greets me a few minutes later when it's feeding time and then when she needs a warm lap for one of her constant naps. Okay, one cat loves me; the other one uses me for food and warmth. Regardless of their feelings, the $170 Petzi Treat Cam is my opportunity to say hi to my cats while at work or traveling with the added bonus of rewarding them with food for at least acknowledging my virtual presence. If only they found it as exciting as I do.
The Petzi Treat Cam lets you spy on your pet with the help of companion iOS and Android apps. While the camera is active, you can talk to them like an omnipotent pet-owning god by pressing the mic button. Nothing says you love your pets like sitting at your office desk yelling your pet's name into your phone over and over until your little rent-free tenant appears. Both cats were constantly confused by the noises coming out of the white box. A dog might have believed that I was trapped in the box; the cats, not so much. After the initial reaction to the noises, they just sort of stopped caring. It's not that my cats don't like me (they really, really like me); it's just that my voice sounds like I'm making calls from a CB radio while trucking down the interstate.
The 720p camera isn't that great. Its quality is reminiscent of smartphone cameras from four years past. With it, you can take photos of your pets on the livestream and share them to social media or to Petzi's animal-centric Instagram clone. It does not shoot video, which meant I had to set up other cameras to capture what was happening around the device while I was out of the house. Also, the pictures I was able to take were so pixelated it seemed mean to make my cats look that bad. Plus, because of the latency between hitting the camera button and the Treat Cam taking the photo, a lot of my pictures ended up looking like this.
The real genius of the camera is that it shoots treats at your pets. It doesn't drop them onto the ground or into a bowl; it actually shoots food at your pets. Which is something the cats were initially not ready for. As stated earlier, the camera does not shoot video, which seems insane for a gadget that shoots food. So all the GIFs are from a Nest Cam sitting next to the device.
I was hoping the melodic tones the Petzi emits when it's placed in viewing mode would eventually have the cats rushing toward the device in anticipation of food, like the sound of their food bowls being filled has them racing to the kitchen. It didn't work that way in the week testing the Petzi Treat Cam. Instead, after moving the camera so that it shot its load onto the hardwood floor and after realizing that the cats really don't care if I called them over the loud speaker, I would just eject their food onto the floor and a cat would magically appear.
If I was lucky, one of them would happen to be walking by when I turned on the camera so that they could be rewarded with a food assault.
But I would never know what I would see when I turned on the camera. Including the time I turned it on and saw this:
One of the cats had knocked the Treat Cam over to get to the food inside (they were not successful) and the camera was trained on the carpet. This is because I just set the camera up on a tiny briefcase so it would be at cat-eye level. If your pets are as mischievous as mine, there are other options.
Speaking of the sort, setting up the Treat Cam is pretty straightforward. It can be mounted to the wall with the included screws, attached to furniture via included Velcro straps or you can just place it on a table. (I live in a rental apartment and would like my security deposit back, so no new wall holes for me.) The problem is that the power cable is hilariously short. After routing the cable through the back of the device so it sits flush against the wall, there's about 31 inches of cable left. Either you have to go out and buy an extension cord or place it near a power source. I placed it under my desk and this is what happened.
All told, the biggest problem I had with the Treat Cam was that it didn't record video. While a cloud DVR option would be ideal, even saving to a local computer for later viewing would be a nice touch. The live feed is a nice way to see what's happening at that moment, but being able to view a day's worth of pet shenanigans is why I ended up pairing it with the Nest Cam.
The device is made to share treats, but I placed cat food in it because my cats don't particularly like treats and because the black-and-white cat (Hector) suffers from kidney disease and requires constant feeding to just maintain his weight. The Treat Cam let me feed him while I was away from home and wait and wait and wait and eventually watch him eat his food. Because of that, the $170 price is worth it for me even without video. If the company enables video capture at some point, the cost might seem less extravagant to others, especially if you enjoy shooting food at your pets so they'll love you even when you're not at home.