With five cats in the house and one of them on a limited ingredient diet, mealtimes involve multiple feeding areas, closed doors and close supervision. While looking for a solution to our mealtime woes, I kept coming back to the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder.
I reached out to Sure PetCare, a company I’ve featured before on the blog, and asked if they’d like to work with Three Chatty Cats on a review of their microchip feeder. Much to my delight, Sure PetCare sent us five pet feeders for free in exchange for our honest review. All opinions stated here are our own. Three Chatty Cats only shares information we feel would be relevant to our readers. (There are no affiliate links in this blog post.)
What is the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder?
Put simply, it’s a sealed pet feeder that only opens for whichever microchip it’s paired with. Depending on your household’s needs, you can pair one pet or multiple pets to a single feeder.
Highlights of the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder
No stealing food between pets. If one cat is on a prescription or special diet (like Sophie), the feeder ensures that that cat won’t eat another pet’s food.
Here’s a video of Woodrow learning that only his feeder will open for him.
The feeder is also great for multi-species homes.
Sealed dish keeps food fresh longer. The lid on the pet feeder closes while your pet is not eating, ensuring that the food stays fresh longer. This is nice for cats who graze or like to nibble here and there.
Portion control. If you have an overweight cat or one who really likes to eat, the pet feeder will ensure they only eat the amount they’re supposed to.
According to the Sure PetCare website, here are some of the feeder’s other features:
- Compatible with all identification microchips worldwide & SureFlap RFID collar tags.
- One SureFlap RFID collar tag included with each feeder.
- Suitable for both wet and dry food.
- 6 months of battery life (4 x C cell batteries, not included). A low battery indicator will flash when the batteries need changing.
- Colorful bowls and mats available to purchase separately (1 gray bowl, 1 gray split bowl, 1 gray mat included with each feeder).
- Stores up to 32 pet identities in memory. Remembers all registered pets even when the batteries are removed.
- 3-year warranty.
Pairing the Feeder
Pairing each cat with their designated feeder was easy-peasy! However, the speed of pairing depends on the cat’s microchip placement. For example, Olive’s feeder took about 25 seconds to pair. I did her pairing first and thought that length of time might be normal. I figured out later that her chip has shifted from its original placement (more on that later).
For all of the other cats, though, the feeder paired within seconds. Here’s a video of Dexter’s feeder pairing. The blinking green light means that it’s in pairing mode. The solid green light means it has been paired. It takes about 5 seconds to pair for him.
Check out Harley’s pairing. His feeder pairs so quickly, if you blink, you’ll miss it!
Note that I placed treats in each feeder for the pairing sessions. These two videos are the first time that either cat saw the feeder. You can see that Harley is a tad cautious, but he decides that treats are more important than caution. #priorities
Using the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder
We’ve been using the pet feeders for over a month now. The feeder comes with instructions on how to train your cat to use the feeder over time. Some cats may be skittish around the moving lid. While Dexter is a tad on the skittish side in general, he adapted to using the feeder just fine.
I fed the cats from the feeders with the lids open for several days – with no movement. Later in the week when I closed the lids (I skipped the recommended training of closing them bit by bit over time), all of the cats were fine with the movement. However, Olive experienced some difficulty with getting her feeder to open, which I explain below.
We encountered two areas of concern while using the feeders.
Concern #1: Microchip Has Moved
What if my pet’s microchip has moved? As mentioned above with Olive, it took her feeder longer to pair than the others. I also discovered it’s slower to open when she approaches the feeder. It’s clear that her microchip has moved (it’s been over eight years since it has been inserted). At her next vet visit, I’ll ask them to tell me exactly where it is, but I have a feeling it’s actually pretty far down her back.
Note that each feeder comes with an RFID tag in case your pet isn’t microchipped (or like Olive, the chip has moved). However, Olive is adamantly opposed to wearing a collar, so using the RFID tag on a collar is out of the question.
I called Sure PetCare customer service, and they were very helpful and friendly. While on the phone, the representative had me press some buttons and do some testing. The feeder responded as expected, but the representative offered to send out a range test kit to ensure the feeder was working properly. I received the kit and the feeder is operating correctly.
While it does take Olive’s feeder longer to recognize her chip, she’s still able to use it just fine. Her feeder takes anywhere from 1 to 5 seconds to open, depending on how she’s standing. But she always eats all of her food throughout the day, so I don’t see it being a problem in the long run.
Concern #2: Sneaky Cats Sneak Food
A repeated complaint in the feeder’s online reviews is that there is no back to the feeder. So, if a cat figures it out, they can eat from the back of the unit while the “paired” cat eats from the front (as long as the paired cat stays put to keep the lid triggered to stay open). The company’s response is to place the unit against a wall. Even with this complaint among some users, the feeder still has a 4.5 out of 5-star rating on Amazon.
In response to the no-back issue, Sure PetCare developed a clear cover that easily snaps onto the unit. However, the cover doesn’t automatically come with the feeder and costs extra (another complaint in the online reviews).
Of course, Sophie figured out how to co-eat with her pal Dexter, so I invested in the covers. And I actually like the look of them on the pet feeders. I purchased them on Amazon for $16.80 each. I see they are now $19.99 – I’m not sure why the jump in price in less than a month. My guess is it has to do with how many are in stock at the time of ordering. Here’s the feeder with the cover.
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Accessories
Speaking of the clear cover, let’s talk about the other accessories. The feeders come with one single bowl, one split bowl and one feeding mat – all gray. I purchased a pink set for Sophie. Even though I labeled each feeder with their names, I figured a different colored dish would help our cat sitter in the future. And just for fun, I also purchased the blue set. It comes in green as well. They also offer a stainless steel bowl set (no mat included).
Cleaning the Feeder
The pet feeder is easy to clean – just remove the mat to clean off any spilled food and wipe down the inside of the feeder with a damp cloth. Obviously, the bowls are removable and they should be washed by hand. The lid of the feeder pops out easily for cleaning. See how quick and easy it is in this video! (Assistant credit: Woodrow)
Even with the two concerns listed above, I love the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder! And more importantly, the cats eat from them just fine. I’ve definitely found a solution to our previous mealtime woes. All five cats eat in the same room now and there are no closed doors or supervision required. Each cat also knows which feeder is theirs, although I do see Sophie sniffing around to see if she can get into anyone else’s food. Denied!
And as the pet parent, I really like that I can tell exactly how much food each cat has eaten.
Purchasing and Discount Code
The feeder is not inexpensive. Each feeder costs $149.99 (USD). But Sure PetCare has been kind enough to offer readers 20% off of their SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder! Enter discount code chattycats20 at checkout. Code valid until December 31, 2019.
Order at surepetcare.com
Valid until December 31, 2019
Any questions? Ask away and I’ll answer them in the comments! What do you think? Would your cat eat from one of these feeders?