It happens to every pet owner eventually: you’re stuck in traffic and can’t get home in time to feed to your cat, or maybe you need to go out of town for a few days and don’t want to put your precious feline into a pet hotel for the duration of your absence.
Either way, you have a dilemma on your hands: your cat, obviously, needs to eat…but if you’re not around, how is your cat going to get their food?
The answer to this problem is, of course, to invest in an automatic cat feeder. Not only is it useful for any time when you might be away from home at your pet’s feeding time, there are many automatic cat feeders that are good choices for day-to-day use as well.
Within this article, we’ve provided you with some helpful information regarding automatic feeders in general, as well as our top ten picks for the best automatic cat feeders on the market.
Table of Contents
- 1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Automatic Cat Feeders
- 2 10 Best Automatic Cat Feeders 2018
- 2.1 1. Petsafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed – Best for Customizing Meals
- 2.2 2. CSF-3 Cat Super Feeder – Best Choice for Durability
- 2.3 3. Pet Feedster USA – Best Choice for Portion Control
- 2.4 4. GemPet PF-103 Smartfeeder – Best for Smartphone Coordination
- 2.5 5. Petnet Smartfeeder – Best Choice for Personal Programming Options
- 2.6 6. Catmate C3000 – Best for Easy Clean-up and Maintenance
- 2.7 7. Feed and Go Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Multi-purpose Use
- 2.8 8. SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Easy Set-up
- 2.9 9. PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Interactive Features
- 2.10 10. HoneyGuaridan A25 Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Smaller Kibbles
- 3 How to Choose the Best Automatic Cat Feeders
- 4 Tips on Using and Maintaining Your Automatic Cat Feeders
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Conclusion
Advantages and Disadvantages of Automatic Cat Feeders
As with any product, there are both pros and cons to automatic cat feeders. We’ve listed a few of them here for you, so you can get a better idea of whether or not an automatic cat feeder is right for you.
AdvantagesExtremely useful if you lead a busy lifestyle that keeps you away from home often or if you’re planning to go out of town for a few days. You can manage and monitor how much food your pet is eating and keep them from gorging themselves. A good choice if your cat is on a restricted diet for health or weight issues. No excess food leftover to attract rodents or insects.
DisadvantagesIf the device malfunction while you are away, there is a chance your pet will not get their food. Some feeders may jam if you use kibble that is too large or strangely shaped. Automatic dispensers can be noisy, which can startle some cats before they get used to the sound. If a feeder is not particularly heavy or secure, there is a chance that your cat might knock it over or get into the attached food bin.
10 Best Automatic Cat Feeders 2018
There are a wide variety of automatic cat feeders on the market, but we’ve compiled this list for you; it contains what we feel are the top ten feeders currently available.
|Petsafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed||18.54 x 12.36 x 8.7||4.61 lbs||4.9|
|CSF-3 Cat Super Feeder||15.0 x 11.0 x 10.0||5.0 lbs||4.7|
|Pet Feedster USA||23.62 x 7.87 x 1.96||14.1 lbs||4.7|
|GemPet PF-103 Smartfeeder||15.0 x 11.8 x 9.8||4.7 lbs||4.6|
|Petnet Smartfeeder||22.0 x 12.6 x 12.3||11.2 lbs||4.7|
|Catmate C3000||14.5 x 8.3 x 8.3||1.96 lbs||4.7|
|Feed and Go Automatic Pet Feeder||19.0 x 16.0 x 3.0||6.3 lbs||4.8|
|SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder||12.6 x 9.06 x 7.87||2.2 lbs||4.9|
|PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder||26.0 x 15.0 x 11.0||20.0 lbs||4.8|
|HoneyGuaridan A25 Automatic Pet Feeder||14.9 x 11.8 x 8.7||3.6 lbs||4.8|
1. Petsafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed – Best for Customizing Meals
This automatic feeder is easy to use with a variety of features. It allows you to program up to twelve separate meals per day, while also customizing portion amounts (anywhere from 1/8th of a cup to 4 cups).
It also has a Slow Feed mode that dispenses food slowly over a fifteen minute time period, a good option if you have a cat that eats too quickly and makes themselves sick.
The feeder is also easy to take apart and clean; some of the parts are even dishwasher-safe! The stainless steel bowl that comes with the product is also easier to clean and more hygienic than a plastic bowl.
The user interface reportedly can be a bit hard to operate, but the product comes with a thorough manual that should help clear up any confusion or difficulties.
2. CSF-3 Cat Super Feeder – Best Choice for Durability
This feeder has a variety of ways to customize or adjust both the amount of food dispensed and the frequency of dispensed meals. If you want to dispense food at specific times, this product will work with almost any programmable timer.
The company (Super Feed) also sells extensions to increase the hopper capacity, allowing the feeder to hold a larger amount of food; this is a good feature to have if you’re going to be away from home for a long time.
This feeder is very durable and will most likely last a long time after the initial purchase. It’s also made of weatherproof and sun-resistant materials, so it can even be used outdoors.
Additionally, the straightforward dispensing system will almost never jam, an important feature to have both for your cat’ well-being and your own peace of mind.
3. Pet Feedster USA – Best Choice for Portion Control
This feeder comes highly recommended not just by pet owners but by veterinarians as well. It lets you set a customized schedule for your pet’s feeding while also letting you control portions.
The newer models have additional features, such as Meal Confirmation, which will let you know when a meal has been served, and Pause Mode, which will let you halt the feeder’s operation without needing to entirely re-program the product.
You can choose how much to feed your pet per meal, ranging from as little as a teaspoon to as much as six cups, and you can program the feeder to have as many as eight meals a day.
The hopper containing the food can hold up to ten pounds of kibble, and the special design prevents your pet from seeing the food inside, which reduces the risk of your cat attempting to break into the hopper for extra food.
There have been some customer reports regarding determined pets still managing to break into the hopper or damage the electrical power cord, along with some issues with the dispensing motor, but the product typically comes with a 90-day warranty that includes both repairs and the replacement of any defective parts.
4. GemPet PF-103 Smartfeeder – Best for Smartphone Coordination
These days, many of us rely on our Smartphones to keep track of our obligations and appointments. This GemPet Smartfeeder is a product that the tech savvy people among us can take advantage of to simplify their lives.
With software that is compatible with just about any Android or Apple tablet or phone, this feeder can be operated both while connected to WiFi and while offline, with up to four separate meals dispensed throughout the day.
When connected to WiFi, you can monitor the feeder on your phone and dispense food at your discretion; when offline it will automatically switch to Offline Feeding Mode and dispense food according to your customized settings for that mode.
This product also comes with a real-time camera, which allows you to keep track of your pet when away from home.
It is worth noting that this product only works for dry kibble, and the kibble size shouldn’t be more than three-fifths of an inch, otherwise there is a risk of the product jamming.
Also, portion measurements are done in liters rather than cups with this product, so conversions might be necessary if you need to measure out portions carefully for health or dietary reasons.
Overall, a good choice if you want to manage your feeder from your phone while also monitoring your pet.
5. Petnet Smartfeeder – Best Choice for Personal Programming Options
This feeder is another good choice for any busy pet owner who has a knack for managing things on their Smartphone.
While there are some smaller flaws such as the feeder not working with certain types of pet food, the unique concept behind the feeder (coordinating everything through your Smartphone) makes this feeder not just interesting but also very useful to busy people who still want to manage and monitor their pet’s food intake while away from home.
The feeder is programmable, letting the user set up specific feeding times and portions, while also allowing the owner to dispense additional food through the use of their Smartphone.
The phone app that goes with the feeder also provides you with feeding recommendations based on your cat’s individual needs. There is also a feature that will notify you if you are running low on pet food; you can even have pet food shipped to your home!
The hopper holds quite a bit of kibble, anywhere from five to seven pounds, and the hopper is also machine-washable, making the product easy to clean as well.
The main problems with the product are that you need a Smartphone (and a reliable connection to the Petnet servers) and to use a pet food that fits easily through the dispenser; the manufacturers recommend a round kibble.
There is also a much more serious issue involving the rubber portions of the feeder breaking apart and ending up in the food, but thankfully this issue seems fairly rare.
The company’s customer service presence also seems pretty minimal, which might be a problem if the product does malfunction.
6. Catmate C3000 – Best for Easy Clean-up and Maintenance
Another good choice if you need something something straight forward and easy to use. This feeder has an easy to use LCD display that can be programmed with specific portion sizes for up to three meals a day.
Not only does it have a ‘frequent feed’ mode that allows smaller meals to be dispensed throughout the day (a good option for pets with diabetes), this feeder also has a very secure snap-on lid to prevent you pet from getting into the food hopper.
The hopper can also hold over six pounds of food, making this a good choice if you need a feeder that will not need to be refilled for a month or so.
The food hopper, lid, and the feeding bowl itself are all easy to clean and dishwasher-safe, making this an easy product to keep in good condition. This product also comes with a three-year manufacturer’s guarantee in the event of any complication or defect.
It is possible for an inquisitive cat to gain extra food from the dispenser by batting at the dispensing nozzle, so do be aware of that if you consider this option.
Some customers also report that the instructions that come with the product are unclear and confusing, but there are a variety of videos online that can assist with the set-up and programming of this product if additional help is needed.
7. Feed and Go Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Multi-purpose Use
While this is another cat feeder that is used with your Smartphone, this feeder is unique in that it can dispense both dry and wet foods, as well as treats and medications as needed.
You can set up a schedule for when food is dispensed, and a built-in webcam allows you to keep an eye on your pet even while you’re away from home. The feeder even has a speaker so that you can call your pet over to the feeder from your phone!
The feeder connects easily to your at-home WiFi, and the schedule programmed into the feeder won’t be negatively impacted even if your WiFi goes down or gets interrupted. The internal tray is also dishwasher-safe, making clean-up easy.
This dispenser works via a spinning tray that has six separate compartments, allowing you to put different contents in each compartment, whether that’s kibble, wet food, treats, or medication.
This is a particularly excellent choice if your pet requires a special diet, multiple meals throughout the day, or medications in addition to their food.
8. SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Easy Set-up
This automatic feeder is a good choice if you have multiple cats and need to feed them either different types of food or different amounts.
The product works by either sensing an RFID tag attached to your pet’s collar or sensing your pet’s implanted identification chip if they have one. This method ensures that each pet receives only the food meant specifically for them.
This product is very easy to set up, and syncing your pet’s ID chip or RFID tag with the feeder takes only seconds.
This feeder is also very easy for the cats themselves to understand; all they need to do is approach the feeder and be positioned close enough (generally underneath the arch portion of the feeder) and the feeder will sense them and dispense their food.
The main downside reported is that the dish can take a long time to close once the pet has moved away from the feeder, which can result in other pets getting into food not meant for them.
While the slow closing time is a potential health risk if one pet is receiving medicated food while the other is not, the timing is adjustable so that the dish covers itself more quickly once the pet is finished.
9. PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Interactive Features
Another automatic pet feeder that works in conjunction with your Smartphone, the PetPal has a camera, microphone, and speaker, allowing you to both monitor and interact with your pet when away from home.
Made of durable stainless steel, this feeder lets you schedule up to five feedings a day, or arrange for a feeding directly from your Smartphone. It can also be used both indoors and outdoors.
This feeder is also reportedly very easy to assemble, maintain, and use. Putting it together takes only moments, and connecting it to you in-home WiFi likewise is a very speedy process.
Capable of holding up to ten pounds (roughly fifty-two cups) of food, this feeder is also easy to clean. It also comes with a limited one-year warranty in the event of any defect or malfunction.
10. HoneyGuaridan A25 Automatic Pet Feeder – Best Choice for Smaller Kibbles
This feeder is a good choice if you’re looking for good customization options.
It can be programmed to dispense up to six meals a day, and you can select portion sizes anywhere from 1/32 of a cup to 7 cups. You can also record a personalized voice message to call your pet over for mealtime.
It can be used in conjunction with a variety of dry and semi-moist kibbles, but it’s advised by the manufacturer to keep the kibble size small, preferably no larger than one centimeter in diameter and width.
All it needs for power is batteries, and the unique power-saving design means that the batteries used will last longer and not need to be changed as frequently, definitely a plus if you lead a busy lifestyle and can’t afford to check or replace the batteries all the time.
Do be aware that the scheduling program runs according to a 24-hour clock, so you will need to be able to understand this way of telling time in order to accurately schedule your pet’s feedings.
How to Choose the Best Automatic Cat Feeders
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for an automatic cat feeder for your household:
1. Purpose: Are you buying a feeder to help manage your pet’s diet, or just to keep them fed while you take a long weekend out of town? What you’re using the automatic feeder for is an important factor to consider.
2. Ease of Use: It goes without saying that some feeders are simpler than others. Make sure to pick the appropriate feeder for you; one that you can operate without feeling overly frustrated
3. External Necessities: Some of the more modern feeders require in-home WiFi or a connection to your Smartphone to operate correctly; make sure to check to make sure your home meets these requirements before purchasing the product.
4. Your Cat: Automatic feeders might not be the right fit for skittish cats who are easily spooked or strong and inquisitive cats who will attempt to break into the feeder. Make sure to take your cat’s personality into consideration when deciding on an automatic feeder.
5. Maintenance: Some feeders require more cleaning and maintenance than others. Make sure to pick a feeder that you’re able to handle the upkeep for.
Tips on Using and Maintaining Your Automatic Cat Feeders
Here are some bits of advice for how to use your automatic feeder and keep it working effectively.
- Use the right food. Some feeders work only with dry food, while others have limitations on kibble size.
- Check the condition of your feeder from time to time; occasionally food can get stuck in the dispenser, which is bad both for the machine itself and the cat, who might go hungry as a result.
- Make sure your feeder is on the stable flat surface so that the food dispenses properly and the product doesn’t tip over.
- Clean your feeder. Most feeders are dishwasher-safe and have detachable bowls, so make sure to wash them every now and again to keep everything hygienic for your pet.
- If your feeder malfunctions, don’t hesitate to contact a customer service representative; they are there to help you and will almost always have a solution to your problem.
- Most importantly, make sure to read all instruction pamphlets and manuals that come with you automatic feeder. These manuals contain important operational and safety information.
Frequently Asked Questions
We hope that the information we’ve provided for you in this article was helpful in understanding both automatic pet feeders in general as well as the different varieties of feeders currently available.
In the end, however, the decision of what automatic cat feeder to buy is up to you. Just make sure to remember to take into consideration not just what you need in a product, but what it needs to accomplish for your pet as well. Happy shopping!