SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap Review

Around three years ago we reviewed the PetPorte SmartFlap, thanks to an urgent need to implement some sort of feline door policy. At the time there were two products that looked like they’d do the job, and I chose the PetPorte pretty much arbitrarily.

Much to my chagrin, it turns out that the other option, SureFlap, are a local company, so when it came time to replace the PetPorte I decided to try their alternative.

It seems in the interim that Petporte have been swallowed up by the Staywell cat-flap behemoth, whereas SureFlap are still plucky independents.

Three years may not seem like a long service life for a catflap, but ours regularly endured a battering reminiscent of the siege at Helm’s Deep in the Two Towers.

This sort of wear and tear is enough to repair, but it refused to scan one of our new arrivals so its days were numbered. SureFlap were kind enough to send me one of their demo systems, which comes complete with a fake door and RFID-tagged toy cat – please note that these are not standard equipment, although that toy cat did prove extremely useful in testing.

test_cats

To their credit, SureFlap will send you a range-test kit if you experience detection problems, which is a sort of plastic slide-rule arrangement with an RFID chip embedded in it.

side_by_side

Looking at the units side by side, you can see that the PetPorte’s catty aperture has about an inch extra clearance at the bottom, which might be important for tubbier moggies. Also you can see that whilst the PetPorte is secured with threaded bolts into captive nuts, the SureFlap uses self-tapping screws into the plastic housing, which I’m less keen on. It doesn’t feel as secure when mounted, and probably wouldn’t tolerate many removal and refittings. Having said that, it’s not something you undertake that often (about once every three years, in fact!)

sureflap_fitted

Fitting the SureFlap takes only a few moments – here you can also see the optional ring adaptor which allows it to be fitted in the standard circular hole cut in a double-glazing panel. The SureFlap takes 4 AA batteries which the manufacturers say are good for 12 months’ worth of feline ingress. This differs from the old PetPorte which had a mains supply and a battery backup, which I personally prefer, but probably only because I’ve already gone to the considerable faff of running power to the middle of a double-glazed door. I can se how the battery-only approach might appeal to more people. The SureFlap will blink its red low-battery light at you when the batteries are becoming depleted.

Training the SureFlap to recognise a new cat is as simple as pressing the learn button and then hoofing the cat in question through the opening. The latch will clatter to indicate that the process was successful. The SureFlap had no difficulty learning our two cats, one of which had defeated the PetPorte. The SureFlap doesn’t impose any arbitrary time limits on you either, which means you can take your time – the PetPorte only gives you 30 seconds, which can be a frantic experience for both pet and owner. You can repeat this procedure up to 32 times, although if that’s important to you it’s probably time to take a good hard look at your lifestyle.

Products from Amazon.co.uk

knackered_petporteThe SureFlap’s dead-bolt is quite a sturdy affair, stronger than the PetPorte’s equivalent. So far none of the local furry hooligans have managed to force it. You can see that it has the traditional four-way control like a regular normal flap, with the settings being no access, in and out, in only, or out only. The SureFlap enforces microchip control in the ‘in’ direction only. Frankly, compared to the PetPorte’s complicated scheme of pressing and holding buttons for various magic lengths of time and watching for specific LED flash patterns, the mechanical four-way latch is a godsend. Also it offers a “going out only” mode, which is useful on rare occasions, which the PetPorte does not. The SureFlap does not have an ambient light sensor, so it likes the night-time option of the PetPorte, but that’s not something I ever used, personally.

sureflap_control

Our calibrated test cats report no problems with the SureFlap, indeed Boris has perfected the art of using it as an offensive weapon: he’ll let the neighbourhood ginger tom chase him through it, having perfected his timing to the point that his nemesis face plants into the plastic door as the bolt closes behind him.

It is mildly disappointing that cat-access control technology seems to be pretty much stagnant. The promised PetPorte computer interface never materialised, and there is currently no such option for the SureFlap either. I outlined to the nice SureFlap lady my vision of cat flaps with bidirectional detectors, 6LoWPAN mesh wireless connections and iPhone control apps, and she in turn made a decent stab at pretending that she didn’t think I was completely mental…I guess the high-tech cat flap market isn’t quite there yet. Having said that I now have a defunct but mostly functional PetPorte in bits on the bench, so watch this space…

In conclusion then, the SureFlap is simpler to operate than the PetPorte, has a stronger locking mechanism, and is slightly cheaper to boot. It lacks the mains powered option and the night-mode capabilities of the PetPorte, but succeeded in registering RFID tags that the PetPorte couldn’t. Another bonus is that it doesn’t have the large protruding ‘porch’ that the PetPorte does, which makes the surrounding door much easier to use for humans.

Sureflap available from Amazon   :   www.sureflap.co.uk

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24 Comments on "SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap Review"

  1. The only thing about the sureflap is that the deadbolt for keeping the catflap closed is on the inside only. We live on a exposed hill top and at times the cat flap can open outwards due to the vacumm effect of the wind… so pulling hot air out of the kitchen. Shame the open/close bolt isn’t a U shape to hold the door between two bolts.

  2. We have the opposite problem with ours in that the wind has a tendency to prevent the door from closing behind our cat when he enters, thereby allowing other cats in. It is therefore no better than a standard staywell cat flap. A waste of money for us.

  3. you could try weighting the flap with stick on wheel weights
    p.s be sure to use lead free so you dont poison the cat

  4. If anyone ever experiences a problem with their SureFlap cat flap! Please feel free to contact us through our website. We are always happy to offer solutions to any issues you might be experiencing!

    Best wishes,
    The SureFlap Team

  5. my staywell cat flap stayed open on the inside of the house sometimes.what i did was just drill a hole in the perspex top left side put a rubber band in, and drill a few holes on the outside and attach the band.

  6. Steve Taylor | August 19, 2013 at 9:11 am |

    I recently purchased a Chip operated Cat flap, which stopped working after a few weeks, unfortunately I had lost the receipt and was therefore unable to return it to the retailer. However I contacted ‘Sureflap’ directly, explaining the concerns, they were more than accomodating and despite not having proof of purchase went out of there way to support me. I now have a fully functioning and first class piece of kit. I would recomend sure flap not only for the product but for their first class customer service.

  7. I’m currently looking for a good cat flap and found this a very useful review – thank you! I also had a good chuckle, particularly your comment, “You can repeat this procedure up to 32 times, although if that’s important to you it’s probably time to take a good hard look at your lifestyle.” Thankfully, I only have two cats, not 32!

  8. Help !,
    I have bought a microchip sureflap which works well and registers the chip on my cat .I have been training my cat with it before installing it into a wooden door so I know the microchip has been accepted ( the red light is off now ).
    When in the door the cat is however not able to come in . When I take it from the door he is able to use it again .
    What is going on ? Can anyone help .
    Thank you
    Iva

  9. Hi Iva,

    I’m sorry to hear you are experiencing a problem with your SureFlap! Please could you get in touch with our customer care team on 0800 012 4511 or enquiries@sureflap.co.uk so that we can look into this issue for you!

    Best wishes,
    The SureFlap Team

  10. Andrea Storey | January 24, 2014 at 1:33 am |

    Hi. I preferred the 4/way operating system of Sureflap and it looked more durable but ultimately I chose a PetPorte because it has mains power. However, I was surprised not to find one with more programmable features in line with modern home technology. Wouldn’t it be really useful to have something app-driven where you can apply animal names to chip numbers, see when they have been in and out and prevent individual pets from getting out (eg when a vet visit is due)?

  11. batteries are low after 3 weeks

  12. what batteries should i use because i changed 2 batteries for new different make batteries and the light stops flashing

  13. We are considering buying one of these, but is a bit dissapointet by the lack of options. Mains power and backup battery is the only proper solution as I can see it, but the petporte smartflap doesn’t seem to scan on the inside. I want to be able to control who can get out when and who can get in when. The Sureflap Dualscan seems to show some promise in this regard, but when try to download the manual to see how the programming is done (thus revealing its limitations), I only get the manual for the “non dualscan”. This means I don’t really know what possibilities the dualscan has. Adding to that, it’s run on batteries which is terrible.

    Worst of all though is that neither producer seems to mention at all what insulation value the door has, and how it handles f.eks minus 25 degrees, snow and heavy wind (which is quite common where I live in the winter). Does it simply jam from the snow/ice, do the force of the wind simply defeat the small plastic locking mechanism, and will we freeze because it let’s the -25 degrees air into our living room?

    Any hints or tips is appreciated…

  14. My only concern is that it is too long for a kitten to climb through…anyone experienced this? It seems too long for a kitten but this is when I really need to keep the big mean cat out. The petporte seems narrower but it is too small for the already cut hole.

  15. The first set of batteries in ours lasted about 9 months, now we need to change them every month!

    This is excessive, any tips?

  16. John T – same for me, did you ever solve how to make the replacement batteries last more than a month??

  17. We have the same problem with batteries – this is the 2nd or 3rd Sureflap we have had and our cat doesn’t seem to be misusing it. Batteries seem to last a really really short space of time, getting progressively worse, and The Roxter is getting regularly shut out in bad weather because either the battery warning does not go off or possibly gets so little warning the batteries are draining that we do not notice it before she gets shut out and very distressed either overnight or when we are at work. Anybody got a solution/explanation? Same thing seemed to happen with the previous one but not for 6 months or a year into use? Otherwise happy with it!

  18. The same thing has been happening with our Sureflap in regards to batteries. We were having to change the batteries very regularly. We have started using rechargeable batteries. When I try to charge the batteries they are coming up as full yet the Sureflap low battery warning light comes on when I return them to the catflap. The cats have been locked out in the bad weather a few times. Really disappointing for such an expensive catflap not to last the years.

  19. If your SureFlap is eating batteries, this is usually caused by the external sensors being obscured, which makes the SureFlap be ‘on’ all the time, thus draining batteries. Ours did this after a while, and you can cure it by giving it a good clean, paying particular attention to the outside sensors, and to making sure that there’s no fur trapped in the top draught excluder. See here for info: https://www.sureflap.com/en-gb/support/videos/how-to-clean-your-sureflap-microchip-cat-flap

  20. Hi, we are having problems with other cats getting in through the ‘sure flap’. We are certain that we have set it up accurately. Anyone got any ideas or suggestions?

  21. i have bought sureflap cat flap but it is too small for the hole in my door which housed a regular cat flap previously.
    Any suggestions?

  22. wow I have had my sure microchip operated cat flap for about a year- fantastic- I have still the same lithium bats in and I keep it spotles including the sencors as per instructions, fantastic bit of kit as far as I am concerned, money well spent.I am sure my cat likes to here the small click when the solaniod operates.

  23. Good article. Like you I’m surprised and disappointed that cat flap technology is so stuck in the past – I was certainly expecting smartphone app-controlled, wifi-enabled devices in 2016, guess not then! Also, reading some of the comments regarding battery life (and indeed overall product life) I think I’ll just stick to my old “dumb flap” which has lasted around twenty years and still going strong!

  24. Excellent review and really helpful comments. Very encouraging to see Sure Flap Ltd comments and apparent level of customer focus. Makes the the decision to purchase a lot easier.
    Thanks

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