With an automatic feeder for the cat, you automatically provide your pet with the food portions that it needs every day – even when you are not there. This makes the product the ideal choice for professionals and people who travel for the weekend. In our new guide, you will find out everything you need to know before purchasing.
What is a feeder for the cat?
A cat feeder is extremely useful when you are away from home for a long time, but you still want to take care of your cat. The basic principle is simple: the device automatically fills the cat bowl with food with the help of a timer. There are many different designs that cover almost every desire for functions between simple and complex.
A simple principle is an automated food dispenser for the cat with a timer. It consists of a bowl and a larger feed container. You fill the container with dry food before you leave the house. The cat cannot get to the food because it is safely enclosed. Depending on the setting, a flap opens at your desired time. The food then falls out of the container into the bowl for the cat to eat.
You can also get a feed dispenser for the cat without a timer. Then there is no closed flap between the container and bowl. The food always slides down when your cat eats out of the bowl. In principle, the bowl is always full. But because the container protects most of the food, it stays fresh.
A feeder without a timer is the cheapest choice for furry friends who don’t tend to gorge. With an automated variant, you always have the size of the feed portions under control in your absence.
Is an automatic feeder only suitable for dry food?
A simple cat feeder is often only suitable for dry food. But there are special models for wet food. The food does not flow from a container into the cat’s feeding bowl, but for practical reasons, these models use a hinged lid that opens automatically. Since wet food spoils easily, many automatic feeders have a cooling function or offer space for cold packs.
Special designs for the automatic feeder
The manufacturers of bowls are constantly coming up with new ideas to simplify everyday life with the cat. A special automatic feeder can use an RFID chip to help the cat ensure that only she alone is allowed to eat the food inside. Worn on the collar, a flap over the bowl opens when the cat is directly in front of it. If there are several cats or a dog living in the household, a model like this helps against food theft. Each animal only gets the food intended for it. This is extremely practical with regular doses of medication or special food.
Features that can be worthwhile in the feeder
Sometimes it makes sense to invest a little more money and buy a machine not only with a timer but also with other additional functions. From the simple helper to the luxury high-tech model, everything is available in stores. The following extras are particularly interesting from our point of view:
- Dishwasher-safe quality: allows machine cleaning
- Removable cat food bowl: for easier cleaning
- BPA-free: protects your cat from harmful plasticizers
- Pet-safe lids, timers, and switches: even clever cats can’t crack them
- secure footing: the machine cannot be knocked over by a hungry cat
- Anti-slip bottom: ensures that the cat cannot push the feeder around
- Battery already included in the scope of delivery: unless it is a battery or mains model
- Battery indicator: shows the current charge level of the battery
- App control and internet connection: easy programming online via mobile phone
- integrated camera: for photos, videos, and/or live streams
- Microphone and speakers: allows you to communicate with your cat via the Internet
- Voice Recorder: for playing pre-recorded voice messages when feeding
- Sealed seal: keeps food fresher for longer and doesn’t make your cat wild with odors
- integrated ice packs: keep perishable food fresh for longer
- Split bowls with separation: if your cat gets two different types of food
- Transparent container for feed dispensers: allows the filling level to be checked visually
Of course, not all models offer all of these practical benefits. But since the extras are reflected in the price (especially the high-tech functions), it makes sense anyway to buy the automatic feeder for the cat that is tailored to their needs.
Cat feeder: tips for buying
The cat’s food bowl must be large enough to accommodate the entire portion. Make sure that there is still air if possible so that it does not overflow when eating.
Depending on the model, you may only be able to fill in feed with a certain diameter. This is especially the case with dry food dispensers, as they are designed to fall through a thin neck. Pieces of food that are too large lead to constipation.
With feed dispensers, it has proven useful if you can individually adjust the size of the dry food portion. Sometimes it makes sense to offer the cat more or less food than usual. Then it is practical if you can set the desired volume as needed.
Frequently asked questions about the cat feeder
A cat feeder is practical, but also special. It is therefore not surprising that many cat owners still have questions. We give the answers.
How do I react when cat collars are stuck in a feeder?
If your cat collars get stuck in a feeder, remain calm. Turn off the feeder immediately to prevent further entanglement. Approach your cat calmly and carefully free the collar. Inspect for any injuries, and if necessary, consult a vet. Consider using a breakaway collar to avoid future incidents.
How many meals fit in the cat feeder?
The available volume is different for all models. Of course, the size also depends on the design. A cat feeder usually offers enough space for several meals of dry food. Instead, containers with bowls that are individually closed with a flap and mainly accommodate wet food only allow individual portions.
Where does the cat feeder get its energy from?
There are automatic feeders with all imaginable options for power supply. The easiest way is via gravity with simple feeders. However, most models require one or more batteries. In addition, battery-operated devices and those with the main operation are available for purchase. There are also individual variants that allow the connection of a power bank.
Does a vending machine or feed dispenser help against begging?
For some cats, a feeder can stop begging. The animal always receives the food automatically. If you’re careful and she’s not that smart, she won’t notice you doing anything to her food. With constant use of the machine, your cat no longer necessarily sees you as their personal can opener. So you may be able to go back into the kitchen soon without her following you and meowing loudly.
It’s not that easy, though, because cats naturally get lots of treats from their humans. They also need this to keep them busy and to strengthen the cat-human relationship. So it takes more than just an automatic feeder to break the irritating behavior of a begging cat.
How much does a cat feeder cost?
Quality, function, and extras determine the price of the cat feeder. Sometimes the brand also plays a role. Simple models without electrical functions are available for as little as five euros. With a timer, prices start at around 20 euros. Luxury versions with high-tech functions start at 60 euros. Very high-quality variants with a camera and app control can also cost 150 euros.
How often do I have to feed my cat?
Most cats are fed two to three times a day and are extremely comfortable with it. However, you can increase the number if you reduce the portion sizes. In the wild, cats eat up to 15 times a day. However, many meals are usually not necessary. But with many small amounts of food, swallowing, and subsequent vomiting can be prevented.
How long can I leave my cat alone?
It depends on your cat. If she is clingy, she will feel bad without you after a short time. More independent house cats can sometimes be left alone for a whole day. Cats are pack animals and therefore need the company of at least one of their own kind. As a couple or in groups there are longer phases without you. Under no circumstances should cats remain isolated for more than 48 hours at a time.
Filling the cat’s food bowl: What time should the cat be fed?
The time is less important when it comes to the cat’s food bowl. It is better to make sure that there are approximately the same time intervals between all meals. This supports good digestion.
How much cat food does the cat need per day?
Most cats can get by on 300 to 400 grams of wet food a day, which is about two cans. The actual amount will vary greatly based on height, weight, age, and activity level.
Dry food is significantly lighter because of the low moisture content. A cat that weighs three kilograms gets around 60 grams.