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SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect Review

Having only had our cat Arya for 3 months, acquiring the latest pet tech was not at the top of our agenda but we’d heard so much about the SureFeed® Microchip Pet Feeder's impressive features that we were eager to trial it!

The main attraction was the ability to know how much and when Arya was eating and to receive real-time updates directly to our smartphone. The other selling point were that the integrated scales, meaning we would deliver an accurate daily food portion.

We honestly did not care too much about portion control during her first 3 months at home (10 - 22 weeks) but being now officially a junior, we thought we should get on top of her weight management sooner rather than later.


Why do you need the Sure PetCare Hub?

The Microchip Pet Feeder Connect system consists of three main components: the SureFeed Pet Feeder, Hub and the Sure Petcare app.



The Hub is connected to the internet (modem) via an Ethernet cable (provided) and monitors / records the activity of your Microchip Pet Feeder Connect. It communicates with both the Feeder and the Sure Petcare app, allowing you to receive notifications even when you're away from home!

The Hub can connect up to 10 devices within the same household so you can have multiple Pet Feeders monitored via one app. It is also compatible with the SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap Connect and Microchip Pet Door Connect if you decided to buy these in the future.

You'll find there are quite a few elements provided however we found the set-up and connecting of the SureFeed to the Hub was seamless by following the clear step-by-step guide on screen (lots of additional info in the user manual) so it took us 10-15 min all up. There are a few steps to follow but you don’t need to be a boffin to set it all up!


You simply need to:

1.  download the free Sure Petcare app
2. plug in and add your Hub (connects to your modem with the Ethernet cable provided).
Ideally it should be positioned 1 metre off the ground (on a table) and in line-of-sight of your Feeder within a 10 metre radius. You should also avoid thick walls between the Hub and the Feeder. To test this, we tried a couple of locations  for our Feeder (2 walls removed and even upstairs in an ensuite on the other side of the house and it still worked perfectly fine). 
When your Hub is connected and working properly, its cat-like ears are solid green
If you see flashing green ears, the Hub is re-connecting to the server, which indicates you'll receive a notification your cat has just had a feed!
3. connect your Pet Feeder and give it a name
4. complete setup by creating your pet profile using the Sure Petcare app (choosing either single bowl or half bowls, selecting the food type: wet/dry for each side, portion weights per serving etc.)
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect - some of the screens you'll see throughout the Setup

What's included with the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder & Hub? 

You can buy the Microchip Pet Feeder and the Sure Petcare Hub separately, however you will need the connectivity to record data and access all the cool features via the (free) app. 
In your box you will find:

✔️ SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect 
✔️ 1 x single food type bowl (
polypropylene/ grey) and bowl support 
✔️ 2 x half bowls (grey) and bowl supports (this option is ideal if you feed different types of food, e.g. raw/wet and dry). 
Each bowl has the capacity of 2-2.5 cups of food (more than enough unless you’re feeding a baby tiger!)
✔️ 1 x removable silicone mat (grey). This helps collect any food spills at the front. 
✔️ 1 x Sure Petcare RFID Collar Tag to attach to your cat's collar. This is for non-microchipped pets so we had no need to use it. The Pet Feeder works with all common identification microchips worldwide.  


Sensors: four small dots on the inside of the hoop detect your pet / Portion Indicators light up indicating the correct portion

The unit can store up to 32 pet identities in its memory which is very impressive but the main point for us was to keep our dogs away from Arya’s food so we only set the unit up to work with her microchip. They would all struggle fitting their large heads under the hoop anyway. 

When your cat approaches the Feeder and sticks its head under the hoop, the sensors will identify your pet and will open the transparent lid to allow access to the food.

There is also an option called ‘Intruder Mode‘. If this mode is selected, the unit will remain closed at all times if it can sense that an unregistered cat is within the feeding area.

The Feeder is powered by 4 x C alkaline batteries (not included) and please note that SureFeed is not designed to work with rechargeable batteries. Based on normal use, the battery life should last 6 months minimum and the unit will tell you when you're running low.

You can also buy bowls and mats in a range of colours (pink / blue / green) which is great if you have multiple cats so you can easily remember who eats what, as you top up their individual bowls. Even as a single cat household, it is always handy to have a back-up set in case of spills at cleaning time. 


Our Verdict 

The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder is aimed at households with pets (cats /small dogs) on a prescription diet or special diet food, however we believe that weight management is part of responsible pet ownership from the start and feeding your cat or dog the exact portion they need (based on their age / weight) is essential throughout their entire life.

SureFeed certainly made our life a lot easier by removing the need for weighing Arya's food each morning, just following the 8 light indicators on either side after setting up her profile and daily portion in the app. The lights will illuminate one by one when food is added to each side, flash green once you're within +/- 1 g of the correct portion and red lights will warn how much you've overfilled.
Another benefit of keeping Arya's food sealed is that it did not go stale because previously our princess was reluctant to eat after a few hours, unless her bowl had been topped up and shaken (not stirred!). It also effectively prevents any cat food smells or flies and insects from accessing her food - especially when you’re feeding wet/raw food.

After only a week we noticed some patterns emerging with Arya having a very large breakfast (nearly 50% of her daily intake) early as soon as we top up the Pet Feeder and then grazing only a few grams multiple times throughout the day, including numerous feeds after dark.

Getting your cat (or dog) used to a new automated product sometimes requires some effort but Arya decided the to skip the training period altogether! Being an inquisitive and confident kitten, she could smell her food under the lid so she stepped in for a closer look and by putting her head under the hoop, her microchip was scanned within a few seconds and saved to memory. 





The next time she lowered her head under the hood, the lid opened again for her and she received an immediate food reward. When she stepped back, the lid closed within 2 seconds (the default setting once the unit loses contact with the chip) but the lid operation is so silent that she barely noticed. You can increase the delay to 3 seconds or lower it to just one second to avoid theft by other pets.
Her entire daily food portion disappeared within the first 24 hours so she clearly adopted her Pet Feeder immediately.

Prior to using the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect, two of our dogs managed to get to her food (served in a normal bowl) and knowing full well they were not supposed to, they ran away after hoovering most of it! Arya is fed in her room separated from our dogs so there’s usually no interference but for anyone with multiple pets eating in a common area, it would give you peace of mind knowing everyone is eating what they’re supposed to and nothing extra! This should also solve the issue of cats bullying each other at meal times.

We really loved the Sure Petcare app  as it is very easy to use 
and after one month, we have not experienced a glitch! 

Because Arya is displaying a very consistent eating pattern (10-11 feeds per day and 30-31 mins spent at the feeder), this would now allow us to immediately spot any variations.

A sudden change in her feeding habits could be an early indicator of illness and would encourage us to have her checked at the vet for a possible infection or injury. This monitoring becomes even more important if you have a senior cat or pet suffering from kidney disease.

We did set up our Pet Feeder for a 100g daily portion and only using the light indicators we sometimes were slightly short (98g – we received a notification each time the feeder was topped up) but a 2% margin error is hardly a concern.

We also found the Pet Feeder Connect easy to maintain and clean (Arya did not drop too many pieces in kibble in between the two bowls, using the single bowl would remove that issue) and it only required a good dust-off / wipe with a damp cloth after a few weeks. Of course, when feeding raw or wet food, a daily cleaning routine (for the bowls) would be necessary.

Cons

There’s no timer in the SureFeed Pet Feeder so your cat will essentially be free feeding throughout the day however cats are smart. Arya quickly learnt that gorging first thing was not going to be delivering her additional food later on, so she paced herself knowing she’d have to wait until the next morning!

You can not put the bowls in the dishwasher or microwave.


As the hoop is quite low (it is a small unit), it will work best with small cats / toy dogs. 

If you have a large cat like a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat, you may want to check the height will work for them.

For our purposes, we found the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect lived up to its expectations and it's not just another pet tech gadget that will end up in the cupboard. 

It is now an integral part of our cat's daily pet care routine.

Price & Where to Buy

RRP: $229 (SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder); $119 (Sure Petcare Hub) from www.surepetcare.com/en-au/pet-feeder/

This product comes with a 3-year warranty.  


Disclaimer:  A SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder and Hub were provided by Sure Petcare Australia in order to complete this Review. 
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