The thing most cats look forward to most on a daily basis is the sound of kibble being poured into their bowl or a fresh can of wet food being opened.
The truth is, we all love to eat and cats are no exception! The difference is that while we humans are perfectly capable of feeding ourselves whether it comes to a main meal or a snack in between, our cats rely on us for their daily rations. If you work a full-time job or have a busy lifestyle, there may be days when refilling your cat’s bowl slips your mind or don’t get around to giving him his dinner until just before you go to bed.
If you want to ensure that your cat gets the benefit of a more regular feeding schedule, you may want to consider an automatic cat food feeder.
What are the Benefits of Automatic Feeding?
The main benefit of using an automatic cat food feeder for your cat is, of course, that you no longer have to worry about missing a feeding – your cat will get the food he needs each day like clockwork. The real benefits of automatic feeders go far beyond this, however. In addition to ensuring that your cat gets the food he needs, many automatic cat food feeders include programmable functions that you can use to control his portion size. This is especially beneficial for cats that are already overweight as a means of helping them to cut back and it can help to ensure that your healthy cat doesn’t gain too much weight.
Many pet owners fail to realize the dangers of overweight and obesity in cats. For a 10-pound cat, a gain of even half a pound can be very significant. The more weight your cat carries around, the more stress and strain is placed on his joints and that can lead to osteoarthritis and other musculoskeletal issues. The heavier your cat cats, the greater his risk for serious medical conditions as well – things like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer. Cats that are overweight or obese also have a decreased life expectancy by as much as 2 ½ years. Do you understand now? If you want to enjoy as much time as you can with your cat, you should make an effort to help him maintain a healthy weight.
Not only can automatic cat food feeders help you to keep your cat at a healthy weight, but they also disassociate you from the food. While this is not the case for all cats, some cats learn to associate their owners with food and they pester them incessantly (often in the wee hours of the morning) for food, even if they are not hungry. By switching your cat to an automatic feeder, you can take yourself out of the feeding equation which will ensure that all of the time you spend with your cat is because he wants to spend it with you – not because he hopes you will feed him. There is also the benefit of a regular feeding schedule for your cat – this can help to reduce stress and will ensure that your cat gets a steady supply of energy each day to support his metabolism.
Another very important benefit of automatic cat food feeders is that you can control which pet eats the food and when he eats it. Some automatic feeders are programed to release food at a certain time and the food remains freely available until it is eaten. There are other feeders, however, that have an additional flap or cover that can only be activated by a microchip to ensure that your dog doesn’t get into the cat food or that only one of your cats has access. This is particularly beneficial if one of your cats has a special diet and you want to keep him from eating another cat’s food. It is also a great way to ensure that an overweight cat doesn’t get extra calories by eating another cat’s food in addition to his own food each day.
Types of Automatic Cat Feeders?
If you perform an online search or browse the cat aisle at your local pet store, you may find that there are several different kinds of automatic feeders for cats.
- Gravity Based Canister Cat Feeder – The simplest type is the kind that consists of a canister and a food dish – there is an opening at the bottom of the canister to allow fresh food to flow into the bowl as the food in the bowl is depleted. This type of automatic cat feeder is usually fairly inexpensive and it is a great option for kittens and other free-feeding cats. If your cat has a weight problem or a tendency to overeat, however, you may not want to use a feeder that makes an unlimited quantity of food available at all times.
- Programmable/Timed Cat Feeder – For cats that need to have their weight monitored or their portions controlled, an electronic cat food feeder might be the best option. These feeders are similar in form to free-feeding feeders in that they consist of a canister filled with cat food and a bowl. The difference is that the feeder is connected to a timer that controls the release of food into the bowl. Different models offer different functions, but many of these feeders allow you to set the serving size and to program two or more automatic feedings per 24-hour period. These feeders are a little bit more expensive, though if you look around you can find an affordable model in the $30 to $50 range. The main downside for this type of feeder is that once the food is dispensed, it is freely available – if you have multiple cats in your household you may not be able to control which cat eats the food.
- Microchip Cat Feeder – A third option in automatic cat food feeders is the microchip pet feeder. These feeders combine all of the best features of an electronic programmable cat food feeder with microchip technology. Not only can you program the feeder to release a specific portion of food at certain times of day, but you can also program it to open only in the presence of a microchip that you can hang from your cat’s collar. This helps to ensure that other pets in your household do not eat your cat’s food and it also helps to keep wet food fresh if you choose to add it to your cat’s kibble. Advanced models for this type of automatic cat food feeder can be programmed for multiple cats and you can set each cat’s individual food allowance. The feeder measures the amount of food each pet eats (according to their microchip) and closes the feeding station when he has met his limit.
Now that you understand the potential benefits of automatic cat food feeders as well as the options available check out our recommendations for the top automatic cat feeders.
Even if your cat isn’t overweight or you don’t usually have trouble following a feeding schedule, an automatic cat food feeder can help you to cross one more thing off your daily to-do list.