WE OFTEN see news stories of pets who have trekked hundreds of miles to get back home after becoming lost. How do they do it?

Migratory animals use magnetic fields, scent cues and sun orientation, but the navigational ability of dogs and cats has been little studied. It's known, however, that they have mental mapmaking skills, good observational abilities and fantastic smell and hearing, and those capabilities no doubt play a role in allowing them to find home, even from someplace they've never been.

* Got separation anxiety? Not your pet - you. If you miss interacting with Rover when you're at work or on vacation, the PetChatz two-way petcam is for you. The unit, available in early 2014, allows owners to "call" pets, talk to them and even dispense treats from a hidden compartment. Pets can learn to respond to the ring, but whether they recognize the person on the screen is a matter of conjecture. But Lisa Lavin, a veterinary technician and co-developer of the device, says what's important is the boost to an owner's emotional welfare.