Automatic cat feeders can be a good thing. But the best automatic cat feeder will make life easier for both you and your feline friend.
Tired of getting pawed awake for breakfast? Sick of the yowling when you’re just a little late for mealtimes? An automatic cat feeder just might be the solution you need, as long as you pick the right one.
Buyer’s Guide to Automatic Cat Feeders
Much like with any piece of technology we bring around our cats, we want to know all about it.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ match for every household, but when you have the right information, and know what to look for, you can make it a seamless transition.
Who should use an automatic cat feeder?
Automatic cat feeders are really best for people that struggle to keep their cats on a precise feeding schedule. A half hour here or there doesn’t seem like a big difference to us.
However, your cat definitely notices, and you’ve probably noticed them trying to grab your attention as soon as you’re late. On the other hand, if you don’t have a problem with timely meals, you might not need one for everyday use.
However, if you’re going to be away on vacation or even coming home late, adding an automatic cat feeder temporarily can pick up the slack for you.
How do automatic cat feeders work?
There are slight differences in how automatic cat feeders operate, but they generally work the same.
First, you fill the canister with your chosen cat food. Then, you program the time for feeding or intervals between feedings.
That might mean you set it up for a set time, like 8 am, or program it to dispense food every 12 hours. Then, the machine dispenses a set amount of cat food.
What to Look for in An Automatic Cat Feeder
Price might be at the top of your mind, but there are plenty of different things you need to think about before you buy that new cat feeder.
Not sure where to start? Here’s our list of the most important factors to consider:
There are a few reasons you need to think about size when you’re looking at automatic cat feeders.
First, you can’t use it if you don’t have enough space, so make sure it fits in your cats’ feeding areas. Next, you need to consider how much cat food it can hold. If you only have one cat, and you’re not opposed to refilling it more frequently, you can save some money and get a smaller feeder.
However, if you do have multiple cats, or you don’t want to refill the feeder often, spend a little more for a bigger one. Likewise, if you’ll be on vacation for a while, it’s worth getting a larger size to ensure there’s enough food.
Cats do like the sound of their food dropping into their bowl. But when you’re the one doing it, you’re hopefully not making strange mechanical noises that might spook them.
If you have a skittish cat, try and get a quieter feeder. Over time, most cats will get used to the noises otherwise, within reason of course.
We’re always looking for a good value, and we know that a higher price point doesn’t always mean higher quality.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping on a budget, or wanting the biggest and best.
Try and balance your budget with the value you’re really getting. Don’t assume more expensive automatically means better.
Always look for any warranty and satisfaction guarantee information. The longer the warranty is, the more confident you can feel that your cat’s new feeder will last over time.
- Customization for multiple cats
Whenever you can keep your cats on the same diet, it’s much easier. However, cats are like people when it comes to diet.
Not everyone can eat, or needs, the same things. That’s especially true if you have cats with sensitive tummies, food allergies, or that need food targeted for weight loss or gain.
Of course, it’s not always easy to keep their food separate either. If your cats have serious food needs, consider spending the extra money to get a feeder that dispenses different food for individual cats.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders
We always take the factors in our buyer’s guide into consideration when we pick our favorite cat products.
In this case, we factored those features in, and then some. Ready to see the best of the best? Here they are:
Best for short getaways - Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder
Does your cat get antsy when you’re away, or are you short a pet sitter? This is a great automatic cat feeder for those times when you need to get away for a little while.
Of course, unless you can get someone to come by and refill the feeder, it won’t work for weeks on end.
However, it will keep your cat happy, fed, and calm for a few days while you’re away.
Don’t worry if there’s a power outage while you’re gone. Before you leave just put some D batteries in as a back up, and the feeder will keep running even if the power goes out.
The lid locks with special magnets, so you don’t need to worry about even the most mischievous cat getting into it and eating all their food at once.
We all know cats like a little signal when their food is ready (if they’re not already nagging you).
With this automatic cat feeder, you can choose a little alarm to notify them, or even record your own voice message to tell them it’s time to eat.
- Meal notifications with alarm sound or personal recording
- 14 gallon capacity
- Dispenses up to 10 .8 ounce portions, up to 4x daily
- Magnetic locking lid keeps cats out of food
Best for special diets and multiple cats - SureFlap microchip pet feeder
We all know how hard it is to manage special diets when you have multiple cats. When you have an automatic pet feeder?
You need one like this, that can tell your cats apart, and keep their food apart too.
This automatic feeder works with your cats’ microchips, and once it identifies them, it provides them with the appropriate food.
Even if your cats aren’t microchipped, you can get special tags that attach to their collar so the feeder only gives them the right food.
That’s not all we love about it. It also works with both wet and dry food, and can dispense just about any portion size.
- Microchip identification for personalized meals
- Works with wet and dry food
- Programmable portion sizes
- Holds 13.5 ounces of food total
- Also works with special tags instead of microchips
Best on a budget: Petmate Pet Café Feeder
As pet owners, we know that convenience can come with a hefty price. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to.
We’re big fans of gadgets that help us save time and money, and that’s exactly what this Petmate gravity feeder does.
It’s simpler than the other automatic feeders on our list, but it certainly gets the job done, and keeps our cats’ food bowl full.
When your cat eats, and the bowl empties, gravity takes care of refilling the food dish. While this might seem problematic for greedy cats, and those with weight problems, you won’t have to worry about your cat going hungry.
Best of all, it’s a quality cat feeder at a price that just about anyone can afford. For the price of a couple of bags of dry cat food, you can pick up this feeder too.
- No electricity needed for operation
- Simple gravity driven feeding
- Holds up to 6 lbs
- Secure locking mechanisms
Best for portion control: Pet Feedster USA PF-10 CAT
No matter what size your cats are, portion control is one of the key elements to good health.
Plenty of automatic cat feeders allow you to tweak the portion size they dispense. However, this one takes it to a new level.
Not only that, it can handle just about any kind of food you put in it.
How much can you control portions? You can program it to give your cats a whopping 6 cups of food, or as little as a tablespoon.
It’s hard to beat those parameters, and it makes it possible to properly feed a house full of cats or even a single kitten.
- Wide range of portion control
- Allows pause for programming
- Backup battery supply for outages
- Includes 1 year warranty
Our Top Pick
Out of the automatic cat feeders we looked at, there’s one that really caught our eye (and our cats’ attention!).
We’re all for simple gear, but in this case, the high tech option really won us over.
By far, the SureFlap microchip cat feeder has everything we were looking for, and then some. Plus, if you need to keep your cats out of each others’ food, there’s hardly a better solution.