The Only 3 Automatic Cat Feeders You Should Consider Buying

Max loves to eat consistently and on a routine schedule. He’s a very food motivated cat and lacks the discipline to not over feed himself, so I couldn’t just put down a bowl of food and let him go to town. That would be irresponsible. 

He’s also the type of cat that will become very vocal at 5AM if his morning snack hasn’t been delivered and he is relentless when it comes to his food.

I originally purchased the Petsafe Automatic Feeder. It has a large hopper that worked for me and I was able to fill it up with about half a bag of his dry cat food. I recently had to move and somehow his automatic feeder was “misplaced”. That led me to find some options that might better serve me over the original feeder that I had.

What I Researched

Ease Of Use - I know that his old feeder had some rather complicated buttons and functionality. I was looking for a feeder that would have simple options that I could easily select.

Durability - Max can be VERY persistent when it comes to getting food. I needed a feeder that was capable of withstanding his prying paws. He’s been known to dig inside of a feeder like a child trying to grab toys out of a vending machine. It would need to not only withstand, but thwart his efforts.

Power Source - I have a water fountain that is plugged in by the outlet near where max feeds. I needed an option that would also allow for battery power.

Accuracy - While he’s not on a restricted diet, I did want to make sure that he was getting a consistent amount of food.

Cleaning - I wanted something that was easily cleaned. I liked the detachable bowl of my previous unit.

Features - I wouldn’t mind a camera or upgraded features that would allow me to spy on him.

My Best Pick

Sale
Petsafe Simply Feed Automatic Cat Feeder
  • PROGRAMMABLE FEEDING: Conveniently schedule up to 12 meals for your pet; best for cats and small to...
  • FLEXIBLE MEAL PORTIONS: Schedule 1/8 cup to 4 cups depending on your pet's unique needs
Ease Of Use

While I love this feeder, I will be the first person to say that the buttons on top are not intuitive. The device locks itself and you have to press a combination of buttons in order to get it unlocked. I found myself cutting the portion of the box lid off that had the instructions on what each button does

However…

Once you set it up, there isn’t really much more that you need to do. You can cycle forward to the next feeding and even change the speed at which the food comes out if you have a particularly hungry animal that can vomit from overfeeding.

Durability

The Petsafe feeder is very sturdy and even when Max would attempt to stick his paws inside the area where the food comes out and climb on top of the unit, it wouldn’t budge. I used this for over a year with one single battery and I never had a single issue with the mechanics or the reliability. Ever!

Power Source

This unit has the ability to run off DD batteries. I found this method the most user friendly for and it even comes with a battery indicator that lets you know when you’re running low. I remember purchasing some of the best batteries that I could buy at the time and I don’t recall ever having to replace them for an entire year.

If that concerns you, for another slight upgrade in price, you can always purchase the AC adaptor.

Cleaning

The stainless bowl that it comes with will frequently need to be cleaned as it stains easily, but that can be said of any bowl that you eat out of. I found that the top of the unite has lots of crevices and nooks that collect dust, but other than the occasional wiping down, there isn’t any cleaning inside that is required.

Accuracy

Now, I did run into some small issues with the accuracy of this unit at larger measurements and I have to imagine that this simply comes from the way the device works. It has a feeding conveyor belt that works much like an escalator. If the individual pockets on the conveyor pick up a bit more or bit less food, then you can have some issues with it being 100% precise when you get up to 2 cups and above. 

Features

Slow feeding is something that I see a lot of cat owners utilizing. I remember my mother had a cat that would eat so fast that she would vomit. You can press the little turtle button and that will slowly dispense the food over the course of 15 minutes so that your cat doesn’t become bloated from over feeding.

12 Programmable Meals
That feels like overkill to me because I can’t possibly imagine a situation where you would need 12 different meal times, but I did recently come across this device that allows you to split the food into two bowls. This could definitely be a great addition for someone with multiple pets and the 12 meal options

question
Can this work with multiple animals?

Yes, if they are eating the same food and generally work well around other in feeding environments. I would not recommend this for two cats where one of them is more dominant and doesn’t allow the other to eat. However, this attachment could definitely solve that problem.

Will this work with wet food?

No. This does not work with wet food of any kind. It can work with slightly moist food options, but is generally recommended for dry food. I’ve tried putting some moist cat food (you know the play-doh type) in the hopper and while it doesn’t have any issues, I have noticed that some of the food on the conveyor waiting to be dispensed can dry out.

Things to be aware of

The metal bowl makes a fair amount of noise as the food falls out of the feeder into it. This is something that you should be aware of in case you’re a light sleeper and you have this in a smaller apartment. It is also something you should be aware of if your cat is easily frightened while feeding. The occasionally lose kibble can drop and scare timid cats.

No DST Options
This isn’t something that’s a big deal, but given how non user friendly the controls are, I hated when time switched over and Max’s 5AM feeding became his 4AM feeding. Nothing will wake you up faster than a cat that has just heard his morning meal drop from the dispensers as he jumps off your bed like Usain Bolt at the summer olympics.

All in all, I think this option will fit most pet owners and I recommend it because I’ve personally used it for 2 years.

Sale
Petsafe Simply Feed Automatic Cat Feeder
  • PROGRAMMABLE FEEDING: Conveniently schedule up to 12 meals for your pet; best for cats and small to...
  • FLEXIBLE MEAL PORTIONS: Schedule 1/8 cup to 4 cups depending on your pet's unique needs

My Runner Up

This is a plate style feeder that I haven’t personally purchased, but my good friend owns it and I’ve really enjoyed using it when I’ve watched her cat. I like the simplicity of it and for a pet owner with a cat that have VERY specific diet requirements. I think this is the best option.

Mona is a lovely cat, but she is very picky about the type of food she will eat and on a restrictive diet. She liked to have some of her medicinal wet food mixed in with her dry food and she liked to have a very specific amount of dry food available at all times.

Ease of Use

This is definitely the easiest feeder that I’ve used. It has a simple button at the front that you press and upon opening it, there are 5 compartments where you can put a measured amount of food. The buttons, like most of the PetSafe feeders, are a bit non intuitive, but once you set them, they are typically good to go unless something drastically changes with your cats diet.

Durability

The simple design and mechanics of this automatic cat feeder makes it one of the most durable designs that you can have. It’s a plate with compartments that rotates on a schedule. You can even remove the plate and throw it in the dishwasher if you store moist or wet food inside.

I’ve never run into a single issue of durability with Mona while using this automatic feeder. It also is very flat to the ground and not likely that your pet will knock it over or move it into a position where it will be inoperable 

Power Source

The Petsafe 5-Meal feeder runs on DD batteries. It’s a low voltage motor, so your battery life will likely go up to a year before you need replacing. There isn’t a wall outlet power source available for this unit. This doesn’t have a battery indicator which I really wish it did so you don’t get that “I wonder when that battery is going out” thought in the back of your mind.

Cleaning

This feeder is definitely the easiest unit to clean of all the ones listed in this article. The plate is dishwasher safe, so you can easily pull it out and pop it in your dishwasher. There isn’t really much else on the unit that will get dirty.

Accuracy

This feeder is the most accurate type of feeder you can purchase because the containers are filled by you! This feeder will be as accurate as you are with whatever food you’re putting in it.

Features

This feeder doesn’t have any real features. It’s about as straight forward as they come. You put in food, schedule the times and the food becomes available to your pet when you decide. There is an upgraded option to consider that has a larger bowl and a sleep mode feature if you need to use it sporadically

question
Can this work with multiple animals?

Yes You could maybe use this for 2 or 3 cats, maximum, but I wouldn’t recommend it as you can only store up to one cup per section and that would require cats to be very disciplined with the food you are giving them.

Will this work with wet food?

Absolutely! You just need to make sure to clean it more frequently.

Things to be aware of

This feeder serves as more of a 1-2 day automatic feeder. It’s not really set up to consistently feed you pet without constant re-filling. While this can work for some pet owners, it’s not ideal for pet owners that have cats with a consistent diet that are looking for an option that allows you to set it and forget it, Ronco rotisserie style.

Other Alternatives To Consider

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along? Unfortunately, that’s not the case with some animals. If you have a pet that needs to be fed a very specific diet or Rx food and you have other pets in the house, this could be a great solution.

This also works well for pets that are less food aggressive and potentially getting all of their food eaten by their more aggressive and more food motivated companions.

The SureFlap microchip pet feeder uses RFID tags to open food for the pet that you program it to and could be a great solution for if you need an automatic feeder for your pet but don’t want other pets to have access to the food.

Ease of Use

The Sureflap pet feeder is on the easier side of automatic feeders. You simply pair the RFID collar to the feeder and it will open once that cat enters the area.

Power Source

This feeder is battery operated and doesn’t have a power supply you can attach. However, given the nature of this product, I think it makes the most sense for it to be free standing.

Durability

This microchip feeder is extremely durable and while using it, I’ve never had any issue with the motor or door lid. It’s also very stable while on the floor. I’ve never read any feedback from consumers that suggest cats are able to break or knock it over. I am somewhat concerned about the security of the plastic door. I am convinced that a very food motivated cat could  get his or her paws under the lip and steal food out. 

Cleaning

The bowl inside can be removed for cleaning and it’s dishwasher safe. There are also a few different bowl attachments that you can add if you wish to have dual compartments for snacks or different types of food.

Accuracy

This feeder will be as accurate as the person measuring the food to put in it. That means you human...

Features

While there aren’t any cool functions of features on this feeder that make it more automated, there are a few modes that will allow the window that the bowl is open to be more strict and prevent food bullies from getting in there and stealing food.

Things To Be Aware Of

Food Bullies.
This is one of the things that grinds my gears because pet owners aren’t being reasonable and providing insightful feedback when they tarnish a product like this because their fuzz ball won’t stop at anything to get their paws on food.

 I agree that the design of this feeder could be improved. There is a flap that you can purchase that covers the back that should probably have been included in the design of this unit. The feeder works best when back up against a wall so that other cats can’t get in the backside and steal food.

This won’t stop a very food motivated and aggressive cat from dominating a more submissive cat. That isn’t a product limitation, it’s a behavioral limitation. If you have a cat that is willing to physically remove a less aggressive cat from their feeding area or cats that are food motivated enough to break into cabinets and containers for food, then you are going to need to devise some additional barriers.

Here are some simple solutions that have worked for other pet owners:

Some great products also out there in the market

Sale
Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder
  • Automatic Food Dispenser Makes Feeding Hassle Free for Pets' Dietary Health & Wellbeing
  • Dispense from 1-10 Portions Per Meal, Each Portion is 24ml, Set Up to 4 Daily Distribution Alarms;...
A Few Good Things

There are a couple of things that the Arf feeder, does well. I love the functionality where you can record your voice and it will play the audio of the message shortly before feeding. This is especially great if you are trying to train your pet with verbal commands. I haven’t seen much success with my cat as he’s highly food motivated and the mere act of moving towards his food will alert him to come running.

I love the fact that the buttons are hidden beneath the cover. I can see this being extremely useful for pets that love to be curiously and mess around with the top of their automatic feeder. I’m confident that this feature would prevent the vast majority of animals from interfering with that settings on your feeders.

The Arf feeder also has a removable food bin. I think this is an extremely overlooked function that is great to have. I can think of times where you need to replace all of the food in your automatic feeder most large storage options will not make this an easy chore.

I also greatly appreciate the fact that it comes with a DC cord included and you don’t have to purchase it seperate adding further cost to what can already be an expensive investment.

A Few Areas Of Improvement

The Arf feeder only offers 4 feeding schedules. While I agree that the 12 options on the Petsafe alternative is way too many, I do agree that 4 is probably not enough for some situations where you have multiple pets using the same device.

No memory function. If you unplug this, you are going to have to reset ALL of your food settings. That is definitely something that I think should be a standard on all programmable devices. I can understand if you unplug it for hours, but this will require a full re-programming if you lose power or accidentally knock out the plug. I’d recommending using batteries.

Overall it’s a great option to consider if you’re looking for something that will fit more in a budget bracket.

But What About The Smart Feeders?

Let me just be real. I’m not sure what makes a feeder smart other than your ability to connect it to your wifi. Smart would be automatically knowing and understanding my pets needs and adjusting to feed him without my input. That might be asking too much from a plastic box with a conveyor belt.

There are some “wi-fi” connected options like the Petsafe Smart Feeder which is essentially my go to choice with the option to schedule your feedings through your phone.

I’ve pulled it apart and it’s basically the same device with an additional price of having an iPhone app that allows you to add additional feedings while not being at home.

In my opinion, this doesn’t justify the additional price, but If I had to pick a “smart” automatic feeder for my cat, I would go with the PetNet Smart Feeder.

Mechanically, this device functions much like other feeders and has a removable food container which I think is a valuable feature that you aren’t aware you need until you run into an issue where you have to replace 5lbs of food.

Here are the things that I think are probably most exciting to people who enjoy the whole connected idea:
  • Wifi app that will alert you when your pet is fed. If you have anxiety about automatic feeders, this can do wonders giving you peace of mind.

  • Works with Alexa. If you’re that type of individual that likes to voice command things in your house. Telling Alexa to feed your cat is always a cool trick.

  • Food level sensor. I think this is actually something that is worthwhile and should be on EVERY automatic cat feeder. I find myself getting to the bottom of Max’s feeder and realizing that I need to do an emergency dash to the local pet store for his favorite brand of food. I wish my feeder alerted me when I was running low.

  • Ability to schedule impromptu feedings. There have been times where I wish I could feed Max without getting out of bed at 4AM. Grabbing my phone and pressing a quick few buttons would be a hell of a lot easier than having to get out of bed and fulfill his desires.

All in all, I don’t think these additional features really justify the additional 10-30% premium, but if the additional investment was within my budget, I wouldn’t mind considering this feeder for my current home situation.

Last update on 2019-11-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API