A very clever solution for selective feeding control, which absolutely does its job at keeping dinner times segregated and controlled - right down to the amount you're dishing up. If you can afford it, you'll love it.
- Integrated scales
- Great app connectivity
- Easy to set up
- Can be gamed by clever cats
- Not cheap for a food bowl
The SureFeed Microchip Cat Feeder Connect is, on the face of it, a very expensive food bowl for cats and small dogs. We're not going to argue with that: it's certainly not a cheap way to feed your furry friends. You've probably never felt like you needed their food bowl to be connected to Wi-Fi before, and that's understandable too, particularly because doing so here requires also shelling out for extra kit.
Those things are true, but if you're of a technological or have an investigative mindset they might not quite be enough. Sure's high-tech feeder is an upgrade in almost every way over whatever you're using today, and there's a lot about it which will be useful whether your pet is on a specific diet, fighting to eat under the paw of greedy housemates, or if you're just seeking more information on the frequency and amount of your pet's eating habits. The non-connected version of the Microchip Pet Feeder scored highly in our guide to the best pet feeders – let's find out how the networked version fares.
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SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect: Features
Let's start with the key feature that differentiates this from other feeders: the microchip reader. This basically works in the same way as the reader in a microchip pet flap. When your pet puts their head through the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect's halo to take a look at their dinner, their chip (or the included collar tag, if your pet does not have a microchip) is scanned. If it matches one you have programmed in, the door to the food bowl slides back, folding in the middle to give them access with an almost (but not quite) silent action.
That door pulls double duty. First, it can stop certain pets from snacking on the contents of the bowl or restrict an overeater from chowing down too much or too often. Secondly, it seals well enough with a rubber lip on the rim of the bowls to keep wet food relatively fresh throughout the day. That's perfect for keeping grazers happy, though this does lack the ice packs that some other smart feeders include to keep food cool for long periods.
It can carry either wet food (with space for two full portions in the main bowl), dry food, or even both if you use the split bowl. Integrated scales mean you can weigh portions independently in each of the bowls, with lights on the unit illuminating to tell you when you've hit your preset mark.
Sure's impeccably presented app also offers a lot of control and feedback, although you'll need the appropriate You'll get alerts when your pet eats, wherever you may be at the time, and that data gets laid onto a timeline so you can track their eating habits – and just how much they've swallowed – over time.
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect: Performance
The theory of the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect is sound, but in practice there are a few awkward niggles to work through. The positioning of that halo means pouring dry food directly into the bowl is almost impossible; you'll either need to scoop it or pull out the bowl to fill it, the latter option of which doesn't make an awful lot of sense if you're trying to use the built in scales.
There's also acclimatization to think of. The lid certainly seems strong enough to keep persistent (smaller) dogs out when it's not time to eat, and we would imagine the promise of food would mean they wouldn't be too troubled by the slight sound and action of the lid opening and closing. The three cats we tested on varied in their responses. Unfortunately the wimpiest of the three – realistically, the one whose food issues would be most readily fixed by the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect – really didn't like it. That is in no way a fault of the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect, of course. This is a solid and well-engineered piece of hardware; cats, in general, do not match that description.
We absolutely love the smarter functions of the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect, and it works wonderfully alongside Sure's Microchip Cat Flap Connect. Both connect to the same wireless hub, and both feed data into the same app, giving you a great deal of information. It's especially reassuring to be able to look back on a day and make sure your pet has been eating, and interesting (if not super-useful) to be able to draw up a map of their mealtimes if you're using this to dish up dry food.
One important note: although we didn't experience it in our testing, some users with particularly aggressive and resourceful cats have noted that the security of the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect can be compromised. By hovering around and waiting for the intended cat to step in for a feed, other cats can effectively push in and shove the other cat out. Once the feeder has detected a microchip, it switches to a proximity mode, meaning that door will stay open as long as a cat – any cat – is underneath it.
Should you buy the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect?
There are two key situations in which we'd paint the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect as essential. Either you've got some sort of dietary issue with smaller pets which needs to be corrected, or you're really, really curious as to the activities of your pets. Barring the possibility of rival pets finding a workaround, it's effective at controlling food access, and it absolutely gives you the information you might crave. It's not essential, unless you're the sort of person who'll think nothing of spending a large amount of money on a food bowl – but once you've picked one up, we'd be surprised if you decided to go back.
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