If you’re a total cat person, then you probably love your fur baby and want to do everything possible to meet their needs and keep them fed and happy.
But there are those times when you get held up in traffic or you may have to work late and your cat is at home restless and hungry, anxiously awaiting your return.
Or you may want to head out of town for the weekend and finally enjoy some much-needed R&R, but you don’t have anyone that can pet sit for you.
You can easily solve this problem with the best automatic cat feeder.
With an automatic feeder, all you have to do is fill it up before you leave for the day and your pet will always have his or her food on time.
An automatic feeder can also help you control how much your pet eats, which is important if your cat is on a special diet.
If you cat loves to get up early in the morning, you can finally sleep in without worrying about your pet going hungry or trying to get you out of bed for an early breakfast.
But the tough part can be finding one that’s right for you and your cat. These days, there are a number of models to choose from. You’ll find some basic timer run models and even techy feeders that allow you to feed your pet via smartphone controls.
Automatic Cat Feeder Buying Guide
Before you hit that buy now button there are a few things you should consider in order to find the best automatic cat feeder on the market.
Feedings and Serving Size
First, you’ll need to consider how often you want the feeder to dispense food. Some models will allow up to twelve feedings per day, although five feedings is pretty standard for most models.
Most feeders will also allow you to choose from a variety of serving sizes, ranging from petite to extra-large. This option is available with most models, however, you should pay attention to the range of serving sizes the device offers.
Typically, an automatic feeder will work best for dry food, but there are options out there if your feline prefers wet food.
An automatic feeder either runs on an AC adapter or batteries. There are pros and cons for each type.
Using a battery powered model you won’t have to worry about a power outage, however, you do have to ensure that the batteries don’t run out and leave your cat with nothing to eat, especially if you’re on vacation.
If you decide on a corded model, you may be concerned about power outages or your cat may have an affinity for chewing cords.
There are some models that run on electricity and also come with a battery backup, but unfortunately, these models are rare.
Microchip Automatic Feeders
If you have a cat on a weight management program or prescription diet, then you may want to check out a microchip automatic feeder.
This type of device ensures that only the designated cat has access to their food.
You can also use it for multiple cats because many models can store up to twenty or thirty microchip identifiers.
There are several models that have come out that are equipped with a webcam.
This is a pretty cool feature because it allows the pet owner to monitor their pet’s eating habits when they’re away from home, so they know exactly who ate the food and whether or not the food was dispensed properly.
Smartphone Enabled Feeders
Many new companies are using some of the best smartphone and wireless technology to allow pet owners to stay connected to their pets and control the automatic feeder from their phones. This can provide pet owners with a lot of peace of mind.
Cat feeders are available in plastic or stainless steel. Typically, ceramic models don’t work well because of the weight, which is why most models are made primarily of steel or plastic.
While stainless steel is a good option, some buyers complain that the sound of the kibble filling the bowl can be pretty startling.
Plastic is a great option as long as it’s BPA free and a safe plastic to use with cats.
Certain types of plastic have been known to cause skin conditions in cats, so pay special attention to the materials used.
As we’re sure you know, cats are very smart and they can get a lot accomplished with so much free time on their hands. Make sure that the cat feeder you choose is cat-proof.
While some felines are satisfied with the amount of food dispensed by the automatic feeder, others will go to great lengths to get more food free, even knocking the feeder over to get to the goodies inside.
If you have a furry friend that’s an evil genius, you may want to spend a bit more to get a model that features some safeguards that can prevent your cat from accessing the feeder’s contents.
If you’re searching for a large capacity feeder, you can find models that can store a few weeks’ worth of food.
For this style of feeder, a handy feature to have is a food level indicator which will alert you when the kibble is running low.
The best automatic feeders come in several design options, but the most common choices include:
Troughs or trays: Models with troughs or trays feature a lid with an opening equal to one tray. When the channel empties, the feeder can be programmed to produce the next tray that contains food. This type of design is also used for water dispensers.
Single bowl: This design features the kibble storage in the rear. The owner places the food in the storage bin and the feeder releases the food based on the settings.
Some of the most common issues cat owners have run into with automatic feeders include the following:
• At times, the unit can jam, preventing the food from being released. This can often be solved by ensuring that you’re not overfilling the kibble hopper or you should change the type of dry food used and buy smaller kibble.
• Another issue, which we briefly touched on involves cats breaking into the feeder. We recommend reading automatic cat feeder reviews in order to determine which models are equipped to handle curious felines.
• Defective or poorly designed models may fail to release the food when it’s supposed to. This can occur with lower priced models.
• If you’re using a feeder for wet cat food, you’ll want to check out feeders that will keep the food fresh so it doesn’t harden.
When an Automatic Feeder Will Come in Handy
If you’re planning to leave your cat alone for two or three days, we don’t recommend relying on an automatic feeder, especially if the model is new.
If you have no choice but to leave your cat alone while on vacation, we recommend purchasing a model equipped with a webcam or smartphone app, which will allow you to monitor whether or not the machine is functioning properly.
Another solution is to use two feeders and program them to go off at alternate times.
This way, if one fails you’ll have a backup which will prevent your cat from going hungry.
Dominant Cat Issues
If you have more than one cat in the home, you may be struggling to find a solution to your dominant cat problem.
Cats that have dominant personalities tend to take over the territory in which the food is placed, causing submissive cats in the home to go without.
If you’re dealing with this type of situation, you may want to invest in a microchip feeder, which can prevent the dominant cat from accessing the submissive cat’s food.
Another solution is to use two feeders and place them in separate areas of the home, as far away from each other as possible.
Other Things to Consider Before You Purchase an Automatic Feeder for Cats
The reason most people purchase an automatic feeder is to make their lives easier.
So, how easy or difficult is the new feeder to use?
Fancy features can be great, but what it all boils down to is convenience. The fewer buttons you have to press to control and program the feeder, the better.
A model that’s well-designed shouldn’t be difficult to use. You should be able to program the feeder in a couple of minutes. Refilling the machine or changing settings should be fast and easy.
How easy is the feeder to clean and maintain?
Look for a model that offers easy cleanup and maintenance.
The best feeders just need to be rinsed out periodically in order to avoid oil buildup.
Benefits of Automatic Feeders
Obviously, an automatic feeder will add a ton of convenience to both your life and your cat’s.
You won’t have to worry about forgetting to feed the cat on mornings you’re running late.
You can plan an overnight trip and know that your cat will get his or her kibble bright and early, and you can easily control the amount of food your cat gets, which is important if they’re on a special diet.
A good cat feeder will be both precise and reliable.
As long as there is enough food in the unit, it will deliver the exact amount of food at the correct time and intervals you specify.
Final Thoughts on Automat Cat Feeder Use
An automatic cat feeder can be the perfect addition to your home, especially if you lead a busy lifestyle.
If you have more than one cat we recommend purchasing one feeder per feline, in order to ensure that each cat gets the right serving amount.
Some of these models can be pretty pricey, especially if you opt for models that feature webcams and smartphone controls.
However, you’ll need to invest in this type of feature packed model if you’re leaving your cat or cats alone for more than a day.
While many models come equipped with safety features that ensure your cat won’t do without in the event of a power outage, when it comes to your fur baby, you want to be sure that they’re being fed regularly while you’re so far away from home.
While the cost of a feeder is an important determining factor when it comes to the model you choose, it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.
Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder:
Considered a more basic model, this cat feeder still comes with enough bells and whistles to make feeding times and portion size highly customizable.
However, if you’re searching for a feeder that allows you to keep a close eye on your pet’s eating habits, this model isn’t for you.
Petnet SmartFeeder Automatic Pet Feeder:
This high-tech pet feeder is a little on the pricey side, but it features smartphone and tablet compatibility, unlimited feeding times, and an innovative app that will allow you to closely monitor your pet’s eating habits when you’re away from home.
Unfortunately, it’s only designed for one cat use, so we wouldn’t recommend this unit for a multi-cat home.
HoneyGuaridan A25 Automatic Pet Feeder:
This pet feeder is a reliable, budget-friendly model that allows you to customize feeding times and serving sizes.
Because of this, we felt the A25 was the perfect model for cats who are on a strict or special diet or feeding schedule.
The Arf Pets automatic pet feeder is highly customizable and features a variety of settings that will allow you to control the serving size and feeding frequency.
This basic pet feeder offers a few features that will come in handy if you don’t want to worry about leaving out enough pet food daily.
This budget friendly model is also perfect for pet owners heading out of town for a few days or for multi-cat households.
With a capacity size of one gallon, for the price, this model is a total steal.
The Petnet SmartFeeder automatic pet feeder can allow you to keep a close eye on your furry friend, via a smartphone app.
You’ll be able to monitor eating habits, serving sizes, and set up a feeding schedule, via the app.
The app also allows you to create a pet profile where you can learn more about your cat’s daily caloric intake, in order to determine whether their feeding schedule needs to be adjusted.
The HoneyGuardian A25 automatic pet feeder allows you to automatically feed your cat up to six times a day.
It also comes with a wide range of serving size options, which is perfect if you have a cat on a special diet or you have more than one cat in the home.
Pet owners can also record their own personal mealtime message, which will play at each feeding time to alert pets that it’s time to eat.