Like many families, we decided to add a family pet during the pandemic. It was something we talked and we had our sights set on a Bengal. The help of our amazing breeder Majestic Paws Bengal Cats, we brought Tapioca home in March 2022.
So far things have been good. It has been a learning curve for everyone involved. Unlike humans, these guys never learn human speech and tell us what’s wrong. We are left in the dark to look at his energy level, behaviour, droppings and take a guess to see if he is healthy, or do we need to consult a vet.
With the Mella Home Smart Pet Thermometer, there is now one distinct metric I can have in my decision making matrix.
What sets the Mella Home Smart Pet Thermometer apart is that it is non-invasive. I have seen Tapioca’s mildly stunned look with a rectal thermometer at the vet and I can sympathise with his reaction. With the Mella, you can use it like you do with babies, tuck it under the arm (or legs in this case) and take a measurement.
It looks just like any normal thermometer, nothing makes it stand out as different. It is white, kind of rocket shaped with the metal tip.
There is a button to wake it up, and a small window on the side for the digital display.
On the fat end of the unit is a USB-C charging port. Definitely grateful that another device has moved away from micro-USB.
The instructions call for downloading the Mella Thermometer app. It is not strictly necessary as the unit will work without the app if you just want to take a quick reading.
The app is available in your smartphone’s store, and interestingly enough on first launch, it told me there is an update. I’m not sure why the update isn’t directly from the Play Store (Android), it is a bit of a concern which I am flagging upfront.
Naturally there is a need to sign up for an account, with a 2FA requirement built in. The app told me to get a code in my email, but I got a text message with a code instead. You need this before you can confirm the account creation.
The app asks if you are a veterinary professional or an individual. I didn’t go down the vet track since it is not applicable to me.
The individual option then prompts me to add a pet profile, with the option for a Dog, Cat or Other. For the profile it asks about the primary breed and if your pet is a mixed breed. The list looks pretty comprehensive when I scanned through it, and there is a search button to make it easy to find your breed. In my case it’s a shorthair Bengal. Put in their birthday, weight, gender, name and a photo to complete the profile.
The app has a pictorial guide on how to get a reading on your dog or cat.
Press the button on the unit, and it connects to the app reasonably quickly. The app shows that the Bluetooth connectivity is done and the screen will change to a “Ready, place under foreleg”. There is a link to get more help with accurate placement of the thermometer.
The reading takes 15 seconds to return a result so you need to convince your pet to stay still for that long. Tapioca isn’t the kind to stay still for long especially with someone encroaching on his space and not vice versa. On the bright side he doesn’t see the thermometer as a threat so it doesn’t put him on guard. There is the option to change it to a 30 seconds reading for those who have pets that are less prone to moving about.
The Mella is quite sensitive to movements when it is taking a reading. For me I can only successfully get a reading with Tapioca only when he’s very drowsy on me.
The great part is, I don’t have to remember what is a normal range of temperature for a cat. The app will tell me what the reading is and a note to say if it is normal, or too low or too high.
By default the reading is just a reading, until you manually assign it to a pet profile.
The operating range of the thermometer is 35-45 Celsius.
In app you can switch the mode to a rectum thermometer, rather than an axillary one.
The data you have gathered can be exported and sent to the vet for the consult.
I do have a few issues particularly around the app.
Initially I had issues trying to create an account. I filled out the forms, adjusted things a few times so it rules out my non-standard way of putting in an email address. Added a leading 0 to my number, dumbed down my password. It just refused to continue, no error message, just no response. I ended up clearing the app storage and started again. Which incidentally also re-downloaded the update.
I had issues adding a photo to the pet profile. It didn’t work at the setup part, nor afterwards. I just won’t open the photo gallery. If you try to take a photo with the in app option, I just have a “check errorMessage for description” [sic].
In the pet profile, it’s decided that Tapioca is a mixed breed and nothing will stick when I change it. It doesn’t change anything but the function just doesn’t stick.
I can’t add a thermometer to the app under thermometer management.
The app tells me there is an update to v1.07, but all attempts to do the OTA update results in a “file download failure” and the thermometer is baulked until I plug it into the power (to force a power off).
At the heart of it, the Mella Home Smart Pet Thermometer is a thermometer with a Bluetooth module to talk to an app. I like the idea of tracking my pet’s temperature without too much effort. In the same way we have fitness bands, smart watches and the like for ourselves.
Like so many products, the true smarts are in the app. Unfortunately there are some issues with the app which still needs to be ironed out. It is not a deal breaker but it takes away some of the polish particularly at this price.
The Mella Home Smart Pet Thermometer is exclusively available at Petstock in Australia with a RRP of $84.38.