Cats are weird, eh?
They'll sleep all day, then eat. Then sleep, Then eat. Then disappear mysteriously. Then eat. Then sleep.
Sounds good to me... except maybe the disappearing part.
Trouble is, if all I did was eat and sleep all day, I'd be a morbidly obese diabetic within a week.
Of course, even cats aren't immune to the perils of overeating. What's more, one pet's diet isn't always right for another's.
But there is a way to take back control...
After bringing us the most advanced range of pet doors I've ever seen, Sure Petcare is back with the Microchip Pet Feeder Connect, a whole new way to monitor your furry friend's eating habits.
As you can probably deduce from the image above, the Pet Feeder Connect utilises the same chip-reading technology Sure Petcare used with its pet doors, effectively taking a pet door (or the frame from one) and attaching it to a food bowl.
It's not just a food bowl though - in fact, in can be two bowls, if you're feeding your pet both wet and dry food. It also incorporates a tricky little automated cover and an even more ingenious set of scales.
If this all sounds like tech overkill for a task as simple as feeding the cat, you've obviously never been woken in the night by the sound of someone else's cat helping themselves to your cat's midnight snack... and the chaos and carnage that inevitably ensues.
It goes without saying, if you're already the proud owner of a SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, there's no chance strange animals can get as far as the food bowl. If not, the clear sliding lid on the Pet Feeder Connect will keep them at bay, as it will only open for microchipped pets you've registered with the device. The lid also has the added advantage of keeping flies and other nasties off their din-dins.
While this might all sound a bit complicated, it's really very straight-forward to set up via the Sure Petcare app. Not only does this help you add or remove pets from the feeder, you can also choose one big bowl or two half bowls, zero the scales, change how fast the lid closes and most importantly, track exactly how much which pet is eating and when.
Like the connected Pet Doors, you will need the separate Hub to get the feeder to talk to your WiFi, but if you already have this to run your cat flap, the same one handles the feeder too.
The only tricky part - and it was the same with the door - is training your pet to use it. Both my cats were pretty leery about the device when they first saw it. Understandable, after all, who wants to stick their head through a hoop in order to get at their breakfast? Luckily, the Pet Feeder Connect has a set of training modes while your animals get used to it. This means you can leave the lid open at first so you don't completely freak them out. The idea is, over time, you let the lid close a little bit further. Eventually, they'll get the idea and figure out this is lunch, not a trap.
I'm assuming dogs are easier to train to use this than cats, because of course, dogs are stupid. I don't know that for sure, because I have cats. And cats are suspicious. And devious. And uncooperative. But we got there in the end. After all; a cat's gotta eat, right?
Whichever mode you use, you'll get a notification of how much each pet has eaten every time - down to the last gram. Turns out, one of my cats is a complete guts!
So... if you want to do a bit of portion control, the Pet Feeder Connect can help with that too. Simply enter the portion weight via the app and the LEDs on the feeder will let you know when you've filled the bowl (or bowls) with the right amount. This really is the dictionary definition of a smart device.
The one tiny design flaw is the gap around the food bowl(s). This is necessary to let the scale do its measuring, but it does mean pellets of pet food can fall down the sides and end up underneath. This is not a major, as you can easily access the area under the bowl by removing it - it's just a bit of a pain.
After my experience with the SureFlap Pet Door, I was a little concerned about battery life, as the constant comings and goings of my cats tended to eat up the batteries in that thing far faster than I'd like. But Sure Petcare seems to have that sorted in the feeder and the four C-sized batteries are still going strong a couple of weeks in,
This is of course, a pretty damn expensive cat bowl - about eleven bags of cat food's worth, by my rough calculations - but it does everything it promises and does it very well. If your pet's dietary habits are causing you concern, or you just want to keep a lid on things, the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect is a great option.