Contents of Article
- What, exactly, is an automatic cat feeder?
- The Five Cat Profiles
- Criteria For Greatness
- 5 Best Automatic Cat Feeders for 2017
What, exactly, is an automatic cat feeder?
An automatic cat feeder is a device that dispenses cat food on its own, usually according to a timed schedule.
This makes it an awesome choice for those who want to portion out their cat’s food over a certain period of time without preparing those portions on their own. But not every feeder is the same; it doesn’t take more than a quick Google search to realize that there is a huge variety of these products available.
Automatic cat feeders vary in technological complexity. Some are completely mechanical, some rely on gravity to dispense food whenever the bowl is empty, and others connect to your mobile device for a highly-customizable and interactive automated cat feeding process. Many feeders only work with certain types of dry kibble, while others support wet food for a high-moisture diet. These products may feature a wide range of custom settings, perks, and styles.
Quick Look : Top 5 Automatic Cat Feeders
To make your quest for the perfect feeder a little bit less overwhelming, I’ve gathered a quick list of the five best automatic cat feeders. I’ve taken note of which features do a great job of solving common problems, identified which functionalities are absolutely necessary, and weeded out those feeders that just don’t work.
If you’re shopping for an automatic cat feeder, it’s probably because your current feeding setup isn’t working for you. There’s a problem that needs to be solved. In order to make it easy for you to choose a feeder that suits your needs, I’ve created five basic cat profiles. Each of these profiles sums up one of the most common issues that necessitate the use of an automatic feeder. Try to choose which category your cat fits into – this will be a huge help in selecting the right feeder for your needs.
After going over our criteria for a great automatic cat feeder, we’ll take a look at my picks for the top five best automatic cat feeders on the market.
The Five Cat Profiles
The best feeder for you is one that suits your needs – so let’s take a look at five types of cats who might need an automatic cat feeder. Each of these cat types will demand a slightly different combination of features – we’ll make sure to address your needs in the reviews.
Does your cat tend to inhale their meal in six seconds flat, then throw it all up a few minutes later? If the answer is yes, your cat is a gulper. One way to help manage a gulper’s eating habits is to offer their meal very slowly and gradually, encouraging them to pace themselves.
The Latchkey Cat
Whether you’re at work during your cat’s mealtimes, have a frequently-changing schedule, or are going on an overnight camping trip, it’s not always acceptable to just leave a bowl of food out for your cat. If you’re tired of getting up early in the morning to feed your cat breakfast, your cat may also fall into this category. Especially if your cat is finicky, needs meals throughout the day, or tends to overeat, an automated cat feeder can be a lifesaver for people who often aren’t home to feed their cats.
If your cat has health issues that demand that they eat throughout the day, they’re a grazer. Again, if you aren’t at home or just don’t have the time to feed your cat small meals at various times throughout the day and night, an automated feeding schedule can make life worlds easier for cats with these conditions.
Does your cat have a greedy feline sibling who always steals their food before they can get to it? Sounds like you’ve got an undercat on your hands. Other cats aren’t the only gluttons who might snag your cat’s food. Bugs can find their way into your cat’s bowl, your dog may chow down on your cat’s meals, and even a baby might crawl over to the dish and try a fistful of kibble. For the undercat, an automated feeder can help ensure that your cat’s food is theirs alone.
The typical dieter kitty is a bit on the gluttonous side and won’t stop eating until the bowl is empty – no matter what size that bowl may be. They need to lose weight, but it’s difficult to manage their portions and make sure they’re eating the right thing. Perhaps you don’t trust your own ability to portion out the right amounts of food. This is a cat who needs diet – appropriate portions doled out with expert precision. Because dieter kitties are typically pretty food-obsessed, it’s particularly important that their feeder is extra-secure and doesn’t allow your cat to hack in and eat the food on their own.
Criteria For Greatness
Features of Awesome Automatic Cat Feeders
Regardless of your cat’s profile, there are certain qualities and features that characterize most great automatic cat feeders.
- In most cases, the feeder should feature custom feeding times and scheduling.
- Uses a reliable power supply. Not many people want to worry that their cat will be starved when the electricity goes out or if the battery dies unexpectedly. Also, the best automatic cat feeders retain their settings in the case of a power outage.
- Security – some clever cats are able to hack into the system and dispense their own food – not ideal when rationing food over an extended period of time or keeping your cat on a diet. A secure feeder is a necessity, especially if your cat falls into The Dieter profile.
- Adjustable portion size.
- Dispenses food smoothly and effectively – jammed feeders are not ideal.
- Works with your cat’s preferred diet.
- Uses a reliable timing mechanism so that your cat gets fed when you want them to be.
Things to Watch Out For – Common Problems
- A transparent hopper can be a drawback – if the food within is visible, this could encourage your cat to try to break in.
- The device may make noise that could bother a sensitive cat.
- Some feeders only work with a certain type of food, like round kibble.
- Some feeders may have complex functions and menus.
- If the feeder doesn’t come apart, it may be difficult to fully clean.
5 Best Automatic Cat Feeders for 2017
PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder Review
Ideal for: Gulper, Grazer, Latchkey Cat, and Dieter (unless they’re extremely motivated – see the cons)
With its high storage capacity and smooth conveyor system, this product effectively dispenses most kibbles and semi-moist foods. The PetSafe feeder offers a reliable choice for those who don’t want to worry about their feeder getting jammed. With its slow feed setting, it’s perfect for controlling your gulper’s eating speed. This automatic feeder also offers twelve customizable time settings, so it’s great when you want to offer your cat food many different times throughout the day.
- Features a twice-daily preset feeding schedule, immediate feed, and 12 different customizable feeding times. Perfect for grazers who want fresh food dispensed throughout the day.
- Works with most kibbles and semi-moist foods.
- Hygienic stainless steel bowl – and it’s dishwasher safe.
- An awesome choice for gulper kitties! Slow feed mode dispenses meals over 15 minutes to make sure that your gulper doesn’t eat too quickly and get sick.
- The translucent hopper contains up to 24 cups of food.
- Dispenses flexible pre-measured portions of ⅛ cup up to 4 cups.
- Operates on batteries (not included) and is compatible with an optional power adapter (sold separately).
- Compatible with a splitter (sold separately) so that you may feed multiple cats at the same time.
12 month warranty.
- Not appropriate for feeding wet food.
- The dish may be slightly too large for a cat. If your cat suffers from whisker fatigue, the sides of the bowl may bother them.
- Some clever cats have figured out that they can reach up into the chute and access the food on their own.
- Doesn’t come with a power cord or batteries.
Watch the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed in action:
Pet Feedster PF – 10 PLUS CAT Review
Ideal for: Dieter, Latchkey Cat, Grazer
The Pet Feedster is a super-secure feeder perfect for the clever cat who would hack into just about any other feeder, making it perfect for dieters and gluttonous cats. Because it lacks a slow feed function, the Pet Feedster is not listed as a good choice for gulpers. However, with eight customizable feeding times and the option to give super-small portions, you can program it to dispense meals incrementally.
- Dispenses super-flexible portions of between 1 tbsp and 6 cups.
- Compatible with any kibble or semi-moist food between ⅛” and ¾”.
- Program 8 customizable feeding times each day.
- Super-sturdy design – this isn’t a fragile product.
- Extra chute guard and a screw top prevents even the craftiest kitties from accessing the food.
- Removable dishwasher-safe bowl.
- The hopper contains up to 10lbs of food.
- Comes with a power cord and backup battery.
- Digital timer retains settings in the case of a power outage.
- 12 month limited warranty.
- Not appropriate for feeding wet food.
- Limited to five feeding times per day.
- Plastic bowl is less hygienic than metal alternatives.
- No slow feed function for gulpers.
GemPet 5 Meal Trays Automatic Pet Feeder Review
Ideal for: Latchkey Cat, Dieter
This GemPet automatic pet feeder earns its place on this list by being a simple, easy-to-program option for those who wish to feed their cat a variety of foods. If you feed your cat wet or semi-moist food or wish to incorporate medications or treats into their daily routine, this feeder is a great choice.
- Compatible with any type of food – treats, medications, semi-moist and wet food, and any dry kibble. Bear in mind, though, that wet food should not be left in the feeder for over 24 hours.
- Super easy to set up and no assembly necessary.
- Option to create a recorded message so that your cat gets a notification when it’s time to eat.
- Secure tray ensures that your cat only gets fed when you want them to eat.
- Utilizes both an included power cord and batteries (not included), so your cat will continue to receive meals in the case of a power outage.
- Easy to clean.
- Perishable food shouldn’t remain in the feeder for over 24 hours.
- Plastic tray is less hygienic than a metal dish.
- With only five 240ml compartments, you’re limited to how many meals you can offer your cat per day. The first compartment is for immediate feeding only.
- You’ll still have to measure the food yourself.
Video review of this product:
Feed and Go Automatic Pet Feeder with Built In Webcam Review
Ideal for: Latchkey Cat, Dieter
If you love trying out new pet-related technology, this is a cool feeder with plenty of features to play with. The feeder operates with a WiFi connection and is managed from your desktop computer or mobile device. This allows you to control your cat’s food consumption from essentially any location – plus it features a built-in (albeit low-resolution) webcam so that you can really keep an eye on your cat’s eating habits. In addition to these integrations, the feeder has a fully customizable scheduling system and six trays capable of handling a variety of different foods, making it an automatic cat feeder that puts you in the driver’s seat.
- Three feeding options: one-time feed for a uniquely scheduled day, one-off feed to give a meal immediately, and a regular feeding schedule. The Feed and Go offers virtually unlimited scheduling options, making your cat’s feeding schedule completely customizable.
- Features a webcam so that you can view your cat consume their meals.
- Has a voice recording feature so that you can create custom messages notifying your cat that it’s mealtime.
- Connects to your desktop and any mobile device, allowing you to control the feeding schedule and receive notifications from just about any location.
- Retains settings when WiFi is lost.
- Works with any type of food and can be used to offer a variety throughout the day – use with wet, semi-moist, dry kibble, treats, or medications.
- Features six 8oz trays. The feeding tray is removable for easy cleaning.
- Special locking mechanism makes this automatic cat feeder virtually cat-proof
- After being unplugged, the device will restore all settings within two minutes of being plugged back in.
- 12 month limited warranty.
- You’ll need WiFi to use this feeder.
- Lacks battery backup, so if there’s a power outage, you’re out of luck.
- The feeder lacks refrigeration, so perishable food shouldn’t be left in it for over 24 hours.
- Low resolution webcam.
- The feeder can be noisy and might bother your cat.
- Plastic tray may be less hygienic than metal alternatives.
- The feeder costs over $180.
Video review of the Feed and Go:
Surefeed Microchip Pet Feeder Review
Ideal for: Undercat
This one is a bit different than the others on the list – instead of portioning out food at set times, the feeder detects your cat’s microchip or the included RFID collar tag to ensure that the food only goes to the cat who needs it. When a registered cat approaches the feeder, the food receptacle opens and allows your cat to eat, closing when the cat leaves the feeder.
- Perfect for the undercat – the feeder registers up to 32 cat ID’s and only opens when an approved cat approaches the device.
- Ideal for keeping special diets separate.
- Remembers all cat identities even when batteries are removed.
- Sealed food compartment keeps food fresher longer.
- Compatible with all food types.
- Bowl and mat are easy to remove for cleaning.
- A variety of bowl and mat colors are available.
- Easy to program.
- 3 year warranty.
- Some cats may be frightened by the lid opening.
- In the case of aggressive food thieves, the unprotected sides may not be high enough to keep the food safe after the lid has been raised.
- Lacks a power cord and doesn’t come with the necessary batteries.
- Plastic dish is less hygienic than metal alternatives.
- Doesn’t have a timer or multi-meal scheduling.
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder in action:
Now Go On, Choose Your Perfect Feeder!
Automatic cat feeders can be a great investment for those seeking to regulate their cat’s eating habits, feed their cat when they’re not at home, or ensure that their cat gets the meals they deserve. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to try to find the right feeder for your cat.
Once you get beyond the basics, like finding a feeder that doesn’t jam, won’t allow your cat to hack in and get the food on their own, and that is compatible with your cat’s preferred diet, it’s all about choosing an automatic cat feeder that suits your cat’s needs.
We’ve gone over some of the basic reasons why you might be seeking one of these feeders and matched those needs up with five feeders that perform excellently while addressing the important issues.
Did this article bring you any closer to choosing the perfect automatic cat feeder? If the answer is a resounding yes, then you’ll probably want to take a look at our picks for the best cat water fountain too.