are automatic feeders good for cats

Automatic feeders encourage overeating in many cats. Since cats are prone to eating all the food available to them at any given time, they may not be able to regulate themselves when they have access to seemingly unlimited food.

How Do Automatic Cat Feeders Work?

When operating properly, automatic food dispensers provide a practical solution for situations in which you can’t feed your cat yourself, such as late work hours or evening plans with friends. They can also be used to expedite your morning routine or get rid of an impatient cat’s five a.m. m. wake-up call.

More advanced models with features like voice recording, video cameras, and diet monitoring apps will appeal to modern cat parents. Some feeders can even curb food stealing among household pets.

In the end, automatic feeders provide cat owners with the assurance that their furry friend won’t go hungry—a valuable comfort, if ever there was one. And there are various ways they achieve this, just like the majority of pet technology available.

Gravity feeders are the most basic type; they function by using gravity, you guessed it. Dry food can continuously fill your cat’s food bowl thanks to a vertical design while they eat. Since cats are opportunistic eaters—that is, they usually eat whatever is available—and most of them lack the self-control to stop eating when they have reached their daily calorie limit, these kinds of feeders are generally not advised.

Users of programmable cat feeders, such as the Petlibro Automatic Feeder, can plan ahead and portion meals. While some are battery-operated, others rely on electricity, and many use both According to your instructions, models such as the Petlibro measure and dispense food from a hopper. Direct entry of meal sizes and times occurs on the feeder’s digital display.

Some programmable cat feeders allow users to distribute food into individual compartments that spin on a carousel. Although this method necessitates a little more work up front, it enables more accurate portion sizes.

While the majority of automatic feeders (including the Petlibro) can only dispense dry food, that doesn’t mean folks who serve their cats wet food are out of luck. Wet food-compatible feeders, such as the Cat Mate C500 Digital Feeder, will incorporate features like ice packs and dishwasher-safe parts for fresh and easy serving. Most of these feeders are also compatible with dry food.

If you enjoy the convenience of operating things from your phone, a WiFi-enabled feeder might be more your style. They usually cost more than simpler devices, but “smart” feeders come with some neat perks. The Whisker Feeder-Robot, for instance, lets users control settings through an app.

From anywhere, at any time, you can plan meals, monitor your pet’s eating patterns, and get notifications when a refill is needed. Since internal memory is a feature of the majority of these feeders, your cat will continue to receive dinner even if the internet is unavailable.

The application of microchips and RFID technology is one of the more intriguing developments in the pet feeder industry. These devices limit access to food to specific pets, so they are most useful in households with multiple pets where food theft is a problem (especially when a costly prescription diet is involved).

A well-liked model is the SureFeed Feeder, which opens exclusively for your cat and no other pets when paired with their microchip or the included RFID collar tag.

See our selection of The 6 Best Automatic Feeders for All Kinds of Cats—and All Kinds of Food—for additional automatic feeder examples.

What Do Veterinarians Say About Automatic Cat Feeders?

The main concerns circling automatic feeders involve safety and reliability. To be fair, nobody wants their cat to become malnourished or acquire undesirable habits. Thus, we had to inquire: Is it ever a good idea to feed our cats by machine?

In some cases, yes. But an extended trip isn’t one of them.

“Going on vacation and leaving your cat alone with a cat feeder may sound like a good idea at first, but there are so many things that can go wrong in this scenario,” says Dr. Sabrina Kong, a veterinarian working with We Love Doodles. “Automatic feeders are better for use when you’re home and able to check it is working properly every once in a while.”

Like anything automated, a feeder can malfunction. And curious cats may tip them over in an effort to get at food. As such, an automatic feeder makes a poor substitute for a reliable pet sitter, according to Dr. Megan Conrad, a vet with the pet telehealth service Hello Ralphie.

“You should absolutely have someone check in on your cat to make sure they’re safe and healthy if your vacation will last longer than a few days.” According to Conrad, an automatic feeder should only be used if you are unable to feed your cat at their scheduled mealtime in order to ensure that their eating schedule is followed.

That said, automatic feeders do have their place. Benefits will accrue to cat parents who have variable work schedules and aren’t able to be home for mealtimes. Likewise, people who occasionally have obligations away from home (i e. , every cat parent ever).

In these situations, it is advisable to test the feeder several times while you are there in order to monitor the situation. This will assuage concerns about the feeder accurately and punctually dispensing portions. Additionally, since cats don’t usually like new things, you can watch how they will respond to this new addition. Will they try to topple it, are they afraid of it, or will they eat everything that it dispenses?

are automatic feeders good for cats

What about the claims that feeding our cats automatically can hurt their feelings for us? Our experts don’t think it matters all that much whether our cats eat from us or a machine.

“Feeding a cat can certainly raise the likelihood that they will show you affection, but it does not guarantee that they will ‘love’ you,” says Dr. Kong. “A cat develops its love for its owner through actual bonding activities like talking, petting, and playing with them—so there shouldn’t be any change in your cat’s behavior toward you at all if you delegate the feeding duties to a machine,” she reassures us.

According to Dr., “Using an automatic feeder shouldn’t change how your cat perceives you if you are regularly interacting with them.” Conrad. Just remember that your cat doesn’t need food and water to survive, so don’t use the feeder as an excuse to leave them alone for extended periods of time. ”.

Which pet feeder to get

There are decent, if not perfect, options if you must use an automatic pet feeder on a day when you’re not at home. In order to save you time, automatic pet feeders are designed to dispense a predetermined amount of food at a predetermined time. They may seem like a wonderful way to take care of your pet while you’re away, but they’re not always dependable and weren’t made with most pets in mind.

During my testing of eight different Wirecutter models, I discovered that the majority of them are unsuitable for dogs who consume more than a cup of food per serving because of their tiny bowls and restricted storage spaces. Additionally, a lot of them jam when set to release more than a cup of kibble. Additionally, we tested each feeder’s stability by thumping it with a ten-pound bag to mimic a pet trying to topple it. A dog weighing more than that would undoubtedly topple most feeders, which were knocked over by this attack (or even a particularly determined smaller dog or cat)

  • The Best Automatic Feeder for Cats and Small Dogs: The PetSafe 5-Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is precise, reasonably priced, and difficult for a pet to get into when you’re not around to feed your cat or small dog.

Pets on restricted diets are likely to gain weight from most pet feeders, too. All the programmable dispensers I tested overfed anywhere from just a teaspoon or two to double the programmed amount. And even more frustratingly, they were inconsistent in how much over they went. In a previous interview, Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian with 28 years of experience who has worked extensively with pet-food and pet-health companies, said, “Even if you overfeed [your cat] by a few kibbles per day [per feeding], over a year that results in a pound of weight gain.” Ward, who founded the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, recommends a restricted diet that pet owners can closely monitor, plus exercise.

We suggest two automatic pet feeders in our guide, The Best Automatic Feeder for Cats and Small Dogs, if you have a pet and are less concerned about them gaining weight.

are automatic feeders good for cats

Compared to other feeders we tested, the PetSafe 5-Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is a plate-style feeder that can handle a greater variety of kibble shapes and sizes and prolongs the freshness of dry and semi-moist food. This model isn’t the best for longer trips because you have to pre-portion meals before programming it, but it can hold enough kibble for a day or two before it needs to be refilled. Since there is no low-battery indicator and the PetSafe runs on four D batteries, I suggest changing the batteries before each trip.

are automatic feeders good for cats

In addition to holding nearly five times as much kibble as the 5-Meal version, the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder is a traditional dispenser model that costs nearly three times as much. This model does not dispense a consistent amount of kibble larger than ½ inch, and semi-moist food dries out quickly. This is problematic for pets that require strictly regulated diets or who are prone to overeating. This model additionally requires four D batteries and features a low-power indicator. A power adapter can be purchased for approximately $10.


Can I leave my cat with an automatic feeder?

A short vacation or business trip might mean leaving your feline friend for 2 to 3 days. With careful planning, the automatic feeder and water fountain can ably manage their physical needs. However, these tools don’t replace the emotional stimulation that interaction with you or another pet provides.

Is a gravity feeder good for cats?

As gravity feeders do not control portions, if your vet recommended specific portion sizes for your kitty, you should probably not use a gravity feeder. They also won’t work well for cats that get overly excited about their food and gorge themselves; you may come home to some vomit to clean up!

How often should I set my automatic cat feeder?

Create & Follow a Healthy Feeding Schedule for Your Cat If their schedule is fixed, they will be able to figure out when they need to be fed and remind you. A cat can eat at least two meals each day, about 12 hours apart. If a schedule is like: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and right before bed would be a perfect choice.

Do automatic cat feeders keep food fresh?

The bowl holds up to 12 ounces (0.75 pounds) of wet or dry food, and the fact that the bowl is protected by a lid ensures that the food stays fresher longer than food left uncovered and also keeps out flies. Pros: Includes two ice packs to prevent spoiling. Digital timer to program four mealtimes.