It may be overkill for most, but this connected cat flap delivers on its promise
- Interesting insights
- Useful app
- Quality build
- Pricey – especially the compulsory hub
- Stats break if cats use a different exit
Cats are mysterious beasts, and although they spend an inordinate amount of time staring at the wall, sleeping and weirdly batting their heads against bits of furniture, they still have plenty of time for exploring.
Given much of this exploration happens at night, you’re likely to be none the wiser. But with the Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect, up to 32 cats’ movements will be logged and ready to view whenever you like.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect: What you need to know
That’s the main appeal of the Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect. It’s a regular cat flap that’s controlled via an app, letting you lock and unlock it remotely, set curfew times and keep an eye on up to 32 animals, which you add to the app via their microchip.
This may seem like an unnecessary use of money, but not only is it an eye-opening insight into what your furry friends get up to when you’re not looking, but it can provide helpful insights into their general health and wellbeing. If a cat starts going out less, it can be an early warning sign to get them to the vets.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap vs Cat Flap Connect: What’s the difference?
Unsurprisingly, the key difference between SureFlap’s basic model and the Cat Flap Connect and is that the latter is connected. In other words, you can use the app to track your cats’ habits. It also lets you set times for when it locks and unlocks.
The connected model also has “selective exit”, while the basic model (£80) does not. This allows some cats to leave while blocking others, which is handy if you have a mix of indoor and outdoor cats or one needs to be temporarily kept indoors on vet’s orders.
If selective exiting is important to you, but you don’t need the bells and whistles of the Cat Flap Connect, there’s also the mid-range DualScan model (£100) to consider. This still lets you be selective about which cats are leaving when, while omitting the app connection.
Otherwise, the basic model and the Connect model are largely the same: both are 142 x 120mm, both support up to 32 cats and both require four AA batteries.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect vs Sureflap Microchip Pet Door Connect: What’s the difference?
But what about the two connected models: the Cat Flap Connect and the Pet Door Connect?
Well, the main difference is size. The Pet Door Connect is aimed at large cats or small dogs, with a 178 x 170mm flap, while the Cat Flap Connect is just 142 x 120mm and clearly aimed at the svelte feline. As one of my cats is – as a veterinary friend once put it – “pleasantly plump,” I opted for the former.
The other differences are comparatively minor. The Cat Flap Connect lets you block exit for some cats and not others (“selective exit”), while the Pet Door doesn’t. This is handy for multi-pet households, where one is sick and needs to be kept indoors for example.
The Pet Door Connect, being larger, also has a monochrome display showing its basic status. But it’s far from essential given the key data is all on the app anyway, and you’re unlikely to use it much beyond the initial setup process.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect: Price and competition
Given the similar feature sheet, it’s hardly surprising that the price difference between the two cat flaps is minor. The Microchip Cat Flap Connect goes for £110, while the Pet Door Connect sells for £120. Both require the Sureflap Hub, which goes for £50, but usually comes with either as a bundle for £150. The Hub should work with as many pet doors as you have, as well as the upcoming Sureflap Pet Feeder Connect.
This might seem a touch pricey, but it’s actually not that much more than getting a regular microchip cat flap. Sureflap’s own non-connected model goes for £80, while other brands start at around £50.
You can get cat flaps for as cheap as £10, of course, but these tend to only have manual locks, meaning constant unlocking or the risk of random animals coming into your home. As someone who has had a budget cat flap in the past, let me tell you it’s well worth spending a bit more in the short term.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect: Design and installation
The Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect looks pretty much like any other cat flap. A clear plastic door segment is surrounded by a thicker plastic that contains the battery compartment and some rudimentary controls. Small teeth appear on the inside at the bottom to lock the door, but click down when a registered microchip approaches.
What is less familiar-looking is the Sureflap hub, which is required to make the app work. It’s a small detail, but this thing is both cuter and more distinctive than any other hub I’ve seen, moulded into the shape of a cat head with two ears that light up red to indicate a problem or green to show things are hunky-dory. £50 feels like a lot for a hub, but at least it looks nice.
The first thing you’ll have to do on getting the Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect is to decide where to install it. By far the simplest option is in a UPVC door, where it’s just a matter of cutting a hole in the plastic and securing it in place.
If you have something more complex, you’ll likely need extra help and expense. Sureflap sells both wall installation kits (£25 to £36) or circular mounting adapters for glass (£10). I needed the latter, which also meant enlisting a local glazier who did the job for £160, though I had quotes of over £250, so do ask around.
Once installed, the first thing to do is to register your cats. You do this by putting the flap into learning mode with a press of the button and enticing a cat to put its head through. Repeat this up to 31 more times, depending on how many cats you have around the place and you’re all set.
Next up, you have to teach the animals to trust it, which is quite a tedious experience involving a whole lot of patience and even more cat treats. Sureflap suggests leaving the door open so they can just come and go as they please, getting used to the click as it recognises their microchips.
Have patience: this can take days or weeks, but both Humphries and Hamilton – neither of them at the front of the queue when cat brains were being handed out – both picked it up within a couple of days.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect: Performance and cat-flap app
Once registered, it generally works brilliantly. When locked it can’t be pushed open by an uninvited cat head or a human hand, and it registers microchips quickly and without fuss.
I say generally because if your cat is a bit more slow and deliberate when pushing through, sometimes it doesn’t quite click shut. That’s because it needs a certain level of velocity to land level with the teeth. This can lead to annoying clicking noises as the teeth fail to connect with the door until you get up and push it home. This is pretty rare, and I note some cat owners report the problem can be fixed by sticking something a bit weightier to the door to make it fall faster. 99% of the time it works brilliantly, anyway.
But the real triumph is the app. When you first register your cats with the flap, it sends through their microchip number to the app, where you can fill in the cats’ details and include a photograph to accompany them. Once registered, you’ll get this cute notification when one comes or goes:
You can turn this off if it becomes annoying, but I find it quite an interesting insight when I’m not around and I imagine most pet owners will feelthe same. The cat flap even registers (though doesn’t notify) any time a cat spends looking out the cat flap but not actually leaving, which is probably more than you think.
An unexpected perk of the app is that it also reports when animals that aren’t yours try to get in. Which leads to delightful stories like this emerging:
But I digress.
Whether you switch notifications off or not, all activity is registered in a graph to show you exactly how much time each cat has spent in the house and outside. Over time, you can learn the patterns of your pets and the app will give you the average amount of time spent in places, so you can keep an eye on long-term trends: a useful advanced warning system of animal wellbeing.
There are other more practical functions of the app. You can create extra accounts within the app, letting friends, pet sitters or veterinary professionals look at your cats’ data. This will be more useful once the connected feeder comes in, but it certainly shows a degree of promise even now. You can also lock and unlock the flap straight from the app, even remotely, which could save any urgent dashes back home for the forgetful.
Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap Connect: Verdict
In my time so far with the Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap, I can only think of one drawback, other than the higher cost of entry. Cats are contrary little jerks, and they will often make their own way back into the house. If your cat leaves through the cat flap, but comes back through a window, then your stats will be messed up for the day. The same is true if a cat goes half out and then shuffles back in, as they may do when learning the ropes.
It’s hard to think of a way Sureflap could avoid that, though, and it’s a small issue in the greater scheme of things. The Sureflap Microchip Cat Flap does exactly what it sets out to do: it gives you both control and more insights into your pets’ lives than you’ve ever had before. If you can afford it, this is the cat flap you want in your home.