The Best Automatic Cat Feeders 2017
The automatic cat feeder has made many cat owners' lives much easier. Gone are the days when cats would "rescue" us from a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning. That has now been replaced by a simple machine that allows us to tell it when we want our cats to be fed. The thought of merely pressing a button and having our cats fed for days at a time is appealing to any of us who have a busy schedule. Many would consider the auto cat feeder to be the perfect invention; it not only allows us to make sure our favorite little furballs are well fed at all times, even when we're away for the day, it also gives us the peace and quiet we so desperately want and need in the late hours.
Furthermore, according to a 2011 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, obesity in cats is on the rise, and as a result, auto feeders have become an increasingly useful tool in helping us dole out the right amounts of food and keep our pets at a healthy weight. We are often inadvertently giving our furry friends too much food throughout the day, and Little Fluffy isn't going to be able to resist when he feels like eating an off-schedule snack or two, much like their Human counterparts. Obesity in cats can cause other health problems to develop, such as Osteoarthritis, high blood pressure and Diabetes, to name a few.
What are the Benefits of an Automatic Cat Feeder?
There are a wide range of benefits in using an automatic cat feeder. Some of these reasons include:
- The cat learns to disassociate you from the food - Cats instinctively associate the "big hairless cat" with food. When cats want something, they can be rather persistent about it. Many cats don't like being fed on a schedule; they want their food when they want it! This often leads to waking up to loud yowls in the wee hours of the morning. With a pet feeder, your furry friend will learn that they will eventually get food when it's time to eat, and at the same time, the feeder will train your cat to disassociate you from its food. Remember that this likely will not happen overnight, especially if you have been giving in to your cat. As with most everything else, you will need time and patience to get your cat out of the habit, but it will eventually happen.
- Your cats will always be fed - With our busy schedules, it's not always possible to feed our cats according to a schedule. A pet feeder can be programmed to feed our cats at specific times each day, thus we no longer have to worry about having to feed our cats when we get back from a long, hard day.
- Portion control - The ASPCA advises that pet owners should control portion sizes. Feed a cat too little, and they don't get the nutrition they need. Feed a cat too much, and they develop health problems, including obesity. The auto cat feeder can be programmed to dispense food at specific times and in specific amounts so you don't have to worry about how much or how often to feed your cat.
- Intake control - According to PetMD, a peer-reviewed pet help blog, monitoring your cat's food intake is just as important as controlling how much your cat eats. If your cat is eating too quickly, it's cause for concern, as this promotes greedy behavior. This type of behavior is more common in cats that have come from multiple-cat households, where "competition eating" is common. Competition eating is where many cats will try to rush each other to specific food bowls to be first in line to eat. One cat will inevitably be the "odd man out", and may carry that behavior into your home. The cat may become aggressive or nervous when other animals or people come too close to the food bowl while they're eating, and may try to scarf their food down without really chewing it. This can not only create a choking hazard, it can also cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as gastric dilation, a condition in which the stomach begins to swell from a buildup of air, fluid and undigested food. This can cause a blockage that prevents food from entering the small intestine. While this is primarily a concern in large-breed dogs, there have been cases of gastric dilation in cats as well, although it is much less prevalent in cats. Most automatic food dispensers automatically control portion sizes by distributing large portions over a set amount of time.
- Cats live longer, healthier lives when their food is properly portioned - The automatic feeder also helps maintain a healthy figure on our cats while giving them the nutrients and energy they need throughout the day. As a result, we can help our cats live longer and with fewer health problems.
- Reduce begging - You may have heard of dogs begging, but it's actually true - cats are also beggars! They pray for loose scraps to hit the ground near them so they can gobble them up just as much as the dogs do! It's just that they beg in different ways. While a dog will just lie there looking up at you, hoping you might throw a tasty treat their way, cats will go out of their way to get your attention, mostly by persistent meowing, rubbing against your legs, "head butts" or nibbling on your hands or feet, whichever is within their reach. If you have a feeder in the house, that helps cut the begging down to a more manageable level at the very least. Be very careful if you do decide to give your cat scraps as a snack though; some Human foods can make cats very sick, and there are other foods that can be downright lethal for cats, especially if eaten in large quantities. Consult your veterinarian before giving your cat anything other than cat food. Of course, the safest course of action is not to give your cat any scraps at all.
What Types of Cat Feeders Are Available to Me?
Here are a few different types of feeders you will encounter:
- Neater feeder - Some cats can be quite messy during feeding time. Have you ever come home only to find your cat's food scattered all over the floor? The neater feeder is designed to minimize the mess cats make when they eat.
- Timed cat feeder - This type of feeder has a timer that allows you to set a feeding schedule for your cat. A timed cat feeder is great for training cats to eat on a schedule and for eliminating competition eating. You can set the timer for various amounts of feedings, depending on how much memory the timer has.
- Microchip feeder - This type of feeder is the most advanced. These devices make sure that only specific cats are permitted to eat out of the feeder. Microchip feeders will come with a microchip you can attach to your cat's collar. A small door prevents other cats from eating from the feeder, while a built-in sensor reads the microchip attached to the cat's collar. If the cat doesn't have the proper microchip, the feeder will not open or dispense food. This is an excellent way to minimize competition eating.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders 2017
Here's a list of products we strongly recommend:
The PetSafe Healthy Pet automatic pet feeder is an attractive option that allows you to easily adjust portion sizes to suit your cat's age, activity
- Programmable feeder schedules up to 12 meals
- Set meal portions quickly and easily
- Built-in conveyor dispenses hard or soft foods
- Slow feed mode prevents greedy behavior in pets
- Immediate feed mode dispenses next set meal instantly
- Feeding can be paused without losing memory of set feeding schedule
- Operates on 2 "D" cell batteries or AC adapter (not included)
The CSF-3 Super Feeder is an upgradable cat feeder that comes with an extendable food hopper. An optional hopper extension can be purchased directly from SuperFeed, or you can use other extensions sold on Amazon.com. With the extension, you can feed your cat up to an astounding 48 times - almost a month's worth of meals. You can also get a separate Wi-Fi socket from SuperFeed that can be used to control the cat feeder from your iPhone, and an analog timer ensures that your auto cat feeder doesn't miss a single meal.
The CSF-3 can be mounted on the wall or on a play stand if you're not using the included stand, and is made in the USA from high-quality polycarbonate. This protects your device against breakage and allows you to prevent mischievous cats from sneaking extra meals while you're away from home. The CSF-3 is a great option for when you need to go on an extended vacation.
- Programmable food dispenser allows you to control portion sizes between a fraction of a cup and multiple cups
- Hopper can be extended to hold up to 24 cups with optional extension available from SuperFeeder
- Analog timer can serve up to 48 meals
- Optional Wi-Fi connector allows you to program the device from your iPhone
- Can be mounted on the wall or on your cat's play stand to prevent your cat from sneaking extra meals
- Made in the USA with high-quality materials
The CSF-3XL automatic pet feeder is a simple device that can be mounted on the wall or a cat play stand to control mischievous cats. The device comes with a one gallon capacity hopper that can schedule up to 8 meals on its timer. The timer is equipped with a program battery backup so that your feeding schedule isn't lost when your batteries run completely dry. Like the CSF-3 Super Feeder, the CSF-3XL is made from high-quality polycarbonate that's built to withstand falling and being knocked over.
- Programmable timer allows you to schedule up to 8 meals
- Can be mounted on a wall or a cat play stand
- One gallon capacity hopper
- Built-in battery backup prevents loss of schedule memory
- Built from high-quality polycarbonate to resist damage
The SureFlap MPF001 is a sure-fire way to minimize competition eating among cats. A protective flap protects the food while a sensor embedded inside the device scans your cat's microchip. If the proper signal is received, the protective flap opens, allowing access to the food within. If an incorrect signal is received, the feeder will not open, and the cat will be denied access to the food. This is the perfect device for dieting cats and to ensure that the right cat gets the right amount of food per feeding.
- Comes with a microchip that attaches to your cat's collar
- Compatible with all major RFID chip manufacturers
- Battery-operated (Average battery life is 6 months)
- Good for both wet and dry foods
If you're looking for a simple device without all the bells and whistles, the Lusmo Automatic Feeder is for you. This is an inexpensive device that's easy to take apart, clean and put back together. If you have a mischievous cat that loves to try to put their paws up the chute to get extra food, you can purchase the optional mischief guard to prevent this. Dispenses between 1/16 cup and 1 cup of dry food. This is a simple, straightforward device that dispenses enough food to satisfy even the most demanding cats.
- Simple design - just insert batteries and fill the container
- Control portion sizes in 1/16 cup increments
- Conduits can easily be removed from the device and are washable
- Designed for small dogs and cats
- Optional mischief guard prevents cats from sticking their paws up the food chute to obtain extra food (sold separately)
When it comes to the most basic of basics, this feeder is where it's at. The PetSafe Electronic Feeder comes with a rotating tray that has five compartments where you place the food. A digital timer will rotate the food dish according to a set schedule, allowing your cat access to its next meal, while a latching lid prohibits access to the other portions until the tray is rotated to the next compartment. The tray has wide, deep compartments that can hold up to 1 cup of food. However, you might have to take time to get your cat acclimated to the whirring noise the motor will make because sudden noises will frighten some cats. Take a few minutes each time you feed your cat It's not exactly meant for extended trips, but it's a great bargain for the price and will do in a pinch as long as you're not thinking about an extended vacation.
- Secure locking lid enables access to one food portion at a time
- Five-compartment tray can hold wet or dry food
- Simple, easy-to-use timer rotates the food dish at set intervals
- Works off 4 D-cell batteries (not included)
- Made of sturdy, sanitary polypropylene plastic
The CatMate C50 is similar to the PetSafe Electronic Feeder, except with a more sturdy dishwasher-safe food bowl, twin compartments that can store ice packs to keep your cat's food fresher for longer and an easy-to-use 90 minute analog timer with quartz movement. This makes the CatMate C50 a great option if you need to keep food fresh for longer, or if you simply need a bit more durability than the PetSafe Electronic Feeder can give you.
- 90-minute timer with quartz movement
- Dishwasher-safe ceramic food bowl makes cleaning a snap
- Twin storage compartments can hold ice packs to keep food fresher for longer
- Serves up to five meals
The CatMate Bowl Feeder Pack is a great option for feeding two cats simultaneously or for feeding one cat two meals. Each bowl comes with its own timer, which gives you the option of feeding each cat separately if you so choose, and there's also a single compartment used for storing an ice pack to keep food fresh longer. Overall, the CatMate Bowl Feeder is a great option for those who don't need an autofeeder, but still wish to establish a healthy feeding routine for their cat.
- Two dishwasher-safe food bowls allow you to feed one cat two meals or two cats one meal
- Two analog timers (one for each bowl) with quartz movement
- Ice pack compartment keeps food fresh for longer
The Qpets AF-108 is a great low-budget option if you're looking for a durable bowl feeder with maximum food storage space. This unit is capable of serving up to six meals in a 24-hour period. It combines many of the best features of the PetSafe Electronic Feeder and the CatMate C50 and has six food compartments instead of five, and these features haven't increased the price tag much above the PetSafe Electronic Feeder.
- Six food compartments accepts dry, packaged moist or wet foods
- Digital timer allows for quick and easy setup and reading
- Built-in clock is LCD-based for easy reading
- Lid lock keeps food protected until the lid is rotated for the next feeding
In my opinion, no autofeeder article would be complete without at least one automatic watering system, and the PetSafe Healthy Station is one of the best. The device provides the correct amount of fresh water for your cat whenever he or she is thirsty. The stainless steel water bowl is detachable for those whose cats do not like their whiskers touching the sides of the bottle, and the device comes in 64-ounce, 128-ounce and 320-ounce sizes.
- Water bottle is made out of high-quality plastic
- Holds 64, 128 or 320 ounces of water
- Gravity-fed delivery system makes sure your cat has fresh water at all times
- Stainless steel water dish detaches to prevent the cat's whiskers from touching the reservoir
- Dishwasher safe
How to Choose the Right Feeder ?
You may be asking yourself how to determine the best automatic cat feeder for you. The answer to that question depends on your needs. Here are a few points to consider in your decision:
- Look at how many feedings the timer can schedule - If you're going away for a long vacation, chances are an 8-meal timer will not be enough. Conversely, a 40-meal timer will be too much for your needs if you only plan on going away for a short weekend.
- Consider your cat's needs - There are many factors to consider when feeding a cat. Age, activity, breed, medical issues and even the weather can all play a role in your cat's energy needs. For example, a kitten that has just been weaned will require more food than an older kitten, and a healthy adult cat that spends all its time outdoors in cold weather will need more food than a healthy adult cat that spends all its time indoors due to increased energy usage.
- Number of cats - Multiple pet feeders may be needed if your cats are overly aggressive during mealtime.
- Budget - Ultimately, despite your pet's needs, your budget will likely be the deciding factor when choosing the best automatic cat feeder for you. You should never spend more than you can safely afford when buying an autofeeder. If you can't afford what you need, consider an alternative device, and hire a pet sitter to pick up the slack if you're going to be gone for a while.
- Warranty - Many auto feeders come with a manufacturer's warranty designed to protect the consumer against faulty materials, accidental damage and other mishaps. Things do happen to these devices during shipping, and you don't want to be stuck holding the bag, so to speak. Consider paying the extra money for at least a 1-year warranty. That way, as long as you have your receipt, you can have a new feeder shipped to you for just the cost of Shipping and Handling both ways. Some warranties will even cover your Shipping and Handling charges. Check with the manufacturer to see what your warranty covers. Trust me, it's well worth the extra money you spend! You should also take
timeto find out exactly what your warranty covers.
All the above feeders are great options that suit every lifestyle while still taking our cats' needs into account as well. The SuperFeeder CSF-3 is a great option for those who love to travel, while the PetSafe Electronic Feeder is a good option for those who love to enjoy the comforts of home, and the CSF-3XL is a good option for those who are in between these two lifestyles. However, if budget is a problem for you, the Qpets AF-108 6-meal Feeder will be what you're looking for. We hope this article has proven to be of help in helping you make a decision based on you and your cat's needs.