Pet doors have long been a staple of pet ownership. They make it much easier to automate the process of letting your dog or cat outside and back in again.
If you have a fenced in yard, for instance, it doesn’t make sense to stop what you’re doing and let your dog in or out every hour on the hour.
By installing a so-called “doggy door” you can give your pet free roam.
With conventional pet doors, however, the setup is definitely primitive. It calls for a flimsy plastic or rubber-like panel installed near an egress that allows pets to move in and out freely.
Unfortunately, that often means other resourceful animals can come in. And once a squirrel or possum gets inside your home, all bets are off. Alternatively, neighborhood animals can also enter your home and wreak havoc.
SureFlap’s Automatic Microchip Pet Door is the solution to such chaotic events. It’s a pet door like any other with one exception — it has built-in smart security features.
How Does the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door Work?
By syncing up with your pet’s microchip, the door can authenticate their identity. It’s kind of like a biometric scanner, such as a fingerprint or retinal scanner. When a pet approaches the door, it will unlock, allowing them entry or exit. Once they move away from the door, it locks again.
The technology involved is called a “selective entry” system. When an unrecognized animal approaches the door, it won’t open. You no longer have to worry about Bigfoot or sizable alligators meandering into your home while you sleep.
As a result, man’s best friend Fido can come in or out as he pleases. If it starts to rain or is too hot outside, Fido can come right back in and get back to lounging on your favorite leather couch.
The system can even store microchip data for up to 32 different pets if you’re the kind of insane person who owns that many animals. Crazy cat ladies unite!
Furthermore, it runs on four C cell batteries, which are totally replaceable. If the built-in system wears down the current batteries, you can just plug in some more. No need to worry about charging anything or connecting to a power outlet. This functionality also means the door is remarkably versatile and can be installed just about anywhere.
Installing the Door and Knowing Which Pets Can Use It
Installation is relatively simple and works similar to how any pet door would. You use a jigsaw or handsaw to carve a space for the panel, seat it in place and then secure it using the included screws and accessories.
If you want to install the door in glass — such as a glass sliding door or window — you’ll need an optional adapter. If you’re not comfortable with doing this step yourself, you can hire a local professional. Just keep in mind that it might not be cheap.
As for the microchip system, if your pet is not chipped, you’ll need to get that done. You can still use the door, but the smart features — the whole reason for owning this particular device — will be useless. The good news is that the door works with a variety of microchip models.
If you know the serial number of your pet’s microchip, you can enter it here to check whether or not it’s supported. If you don’t know the serial number and don’t have the documentation, don’t worry, your pet can still use the door. There’s a program button — similar to universal TV remotes — that will scan for the microchip and register it in memory.
How Does the SureFlap Function, and Are There Any Flaws?
Until your pet approaches, a strong, central magnet holds the flap of the door in place. It remains relatively tight and secure too, in case you’re wondering.
Additionally, there’s a four-way manual locking mechanism that allows you to prevent anyone — even authorized pets — from moving in or out. This feature is great if it’s raining, for instance, and you want your pet to remain inside. Options exist for only-in, only-out, two-way and totally locked.
Two sensors monitor and measure for authentication: a motion sensor and a radio frequency or RF sensor. The motion sensor enables or disables the RF sensor, while the latter actually reads nearby microchips.
This process prevents the RF sensor from activating on its own and wearing down the batteries. It works something like this. Your pet approaches the door, the motion sensor turns on the RF sensor, it reads the microchip and the flap is unlocked.
After a pet enters or exits, the flap is automatically sealed again, which prevents other animals from taking advantage of a proper entry process and slipping in fortuitously. You can adjust the amount of time it takes to relock the flap, with the fastest setting being about two seconds.
This product works great and is an excellent solution if you want to allow your pet(s) free roam yet have the added peace of mind. It’s not perfect though. The microchip reader requires the chip to be on the back of the cat’s neck, and they must stand incredibly close to the door for it to work properly.
The selective entry system means the door is not totally secure, believe it or not. It opens in an inwards direction — outwards if you install it backwards. This quality means it can be pulled open from the opposite side by people or even small animals like raccoons.
The likelihood of that actually happening is pretty small, but it’s still something to keep in mind. Furthermore, the automated system or unlock mechanism makes a loud click, which may scare your cat or dog, depending on how finicky they are.
To Buy or Not to Buy
If none of the drawbacks are deal breakers for you, you’ll be happy to know you can get your hands on the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door for about $200 (MSRP) or down to $150 depending on who you buy from [affiliate link].
Bottom line, is it worth buying? Yes, absolutely, especially if you’re tired of letting your animals in or out of your backyard. Additional models are available too for cats specifically and general purpose use.
Images: Sure Petcare