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A smart cat water bowl is cool, but not for everyone

Every cat owner knows just how fickle and precocious felines can be. After all, there are huge, multimillion-member groups on social media dedicated to laughing at how difficult cats are. But it can be incredibly hard to know when your cat is suffering from a health problem because of this same behavior.

Cats are notorious for masking severe pain and other symptoms. Unless you happen to notice the signs, a cat can hide their illness for a long time. The Felaqua Connect is a smart water bowl that can help catch one of the primary signs of illness in cats (increased fluid intake) by telling you when, how often, and how much your cat drinks.

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So does it work? Well, kind of.

Setting up is easy but annoying

The setup process isn’t difficult, but it is annoying in the worst possible way. The Felaqua Connect water bowl requires a separate hub. On the plus side, it’s in the shape of a cat head, and the LED indicators are built into the ears. It’s cute. On the downside, it requires a dedicated Ethernet connection and outlet.

The Felaqua Hub has a cute design.

At a time when many smart devices are hubless, the requirement is a bit off-putting — especially when my router has only one Ethernet port. I’m forced to choose between control of my Hue lights throughout the entire home or the Felaqua Connect.

After I set up the hub, it instructed me to insert four C batteries into the underside of the water bowl. The use of batteries isn’t a big deal — it allows for more freedom in placing the water bowl without the need to plug it in, and we all know how much cats love cords — but the battery type is odd. C batteries aren’t common, nor are they easy to find. The Felaqua Connect boast six months of battery life per set of batteries, but I would be willing to trade a shorter battery life for an easier-to-find (and less expensive) type of battery.

Cat-tested, cat-approved

After setting up the Felaqua Connect beside my cat’s normal water bowl, it took her a few days before she tested it out. She gave it the side-eye quite a bit at first, but she began using it — and soon forgot about her old water bowl. The Felaqua Connect uses a large reservoir that doles out water as needed. It keeps the bowl topped off, and by tracking when it,s refilled and how much water it distributes into the bowl, it can tell you how much your cat has had to drink.

The Felaqua Connect is a great-looking water bowl.

It can even distinguish between different cats, or so it claims. The reviews seem to support this, but since I have only a single cat, I wasn’t able to test this out completely. It reads your cats’ microchips to know when they are drinking and to provide individual reports on each animal. Unfortunately, if your cat isn’t microchipped, some of the features lack a certain oomph.

For example, the Felaqua Connect tracks when my cat has a drink — but only because it reports that a certain amount of water was removed from the bowl. It doesn’t link the activity to her. It functions basically the same way in that I can see when she goes to her bowl, but it lacks the personalization.

The app reminds me that I have no registered pets in my household, but that’s because it doesn’t give me the option to designate it as a single-cat home. Without a microchip, the app only half-functions. Maybe it’s a ploy to get more pet owners to microchip their animals?

My cat does love the new water bowl and uses it extensively. In turn, I get a notice each time she has a sip (usually in the middle of the night) and I can track whether she is drinking more than normal. There is one other side effect, though: When the Felaqua Connect distributes more water into the bowl, it releases bubbles into the reservoir.

In cat terms, those bubbles mean playtime. I have woken up to my cat attacking the reservoir to make it bubble and spilling water all over the kitchen floor.

The Felaqua Connect helps track your cat's fluid intake.

You can control some aspects of the Felaqua Connect from the Sure Petcare app, such as the brightness of the hub lights. It also gives you an easy view of any connected devices, as well as the strength of their connection. The main feature is the timeline — it shows you when the bowl is refilled, when your cat takes a drink, and more.

It’s an innovative, albeit niche, idea — but is it worth it? I’m not sure. At $115 for just the Felaqua Connect (a device that is nothing more than a fancy water bowl without the hub), it’s not a cheap purchase, especially when you combine it with the $84 Sure Petcare Hub. If you have other products from Sure Petcare, such as their connected feeders, it might be worthwhile to invest in the Felaqua Connect, but I just feel like it isn’t worth the cost or the hassle for the majority of pet owners.

If your cat has special health considerations, then monitoring their fluid intake is critically important — but if your cat is healthy, the Felaqua Connect might be a bit overkill.

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