Best Automatic, Timed, and Programmable Pet Feeders For Cats | New Ratings and Reviews For 2018!
How much does your cat care about what you’re doing when she’s hungry?
A little? Some? Ha! More like NOT AT ALL, right?
When it’s time for food, she wants it NOW, and will walk on your sleeping face to get it.
Oh, and all those times you’d love to go out but can’t because you have to feed your cat every few hours because of her special diet?
Yeahhh, she couldn’t care less. “Just. Feed. Me.,” she thinks.
For all of us cat parents who love our babies but hate their pain-in-the-neck feeding schedule, let me just say a huge THANK YOU to whoever invented automatic cat feeders and pet food dispensers.
Never worry about giving the wrong amount of food, forgetting to feed your cat, getting your face walked on while you sleep, or saying no to going out for the night with these awesome gadgets!
We’ve reviewed the best of the best in the feeder market and will give you our top picks below. And hurry, the relief can’t come soon enough!
Click The Link Below To Skip Down To Our Ratings & Reviews
How And Why To Find The Best Cat Feeder
There are several things to consider when looking for a cat feeder. Feeders help regulate diets of overweight cats and they encourage finicky eaters to eat more food.
Automatic feeders provide you with an easy solution to a variety of feeding schedule dilemmas, such as:
- Cats who overeat, and who are at risk of obesity,
- Cats who require a special diet, and have to be fed at specific intervals throughout the day,
- Humans who work long, irregular hours, and can’t always be home to feed their kitties the proper amount,
- Humans who like to travel or go out occasionally, and are not always at home for short stretches,
- Cats who are picky, and will only eat fresh food because they expect Michelin-star quality,
- Humans who don’t want to be woken up at 5 AM by a hungry cat walking on their face,
- And more!
Basically, when I’m looking at a product as important to my sweeties as something that gives them food (i.e., they NEED it to work!), I am pretty picky, particularly when I’m looking at a feeder’s:
- Reliability…it better actually give them food!
- Ease of use…some of them are harder to operate than a SpaceX rocket.
- Adaptability…I want to be able to set the feeding schedule EXACTLY how I want it.
Most of the feeders I’ve tried have been pretty bad, to be honest, and there are only a few that are worth actually keeping in your home.
The problems I found have ranged from absolutely ridiculously clunky and antiquated timing systems (I’m talking about literal on/off switches ((yes, switches, NOT buttons…like click click switches)) in a circle, one for every hour on the clock), to the clock losing time and feeding the cats way too late, to only being powered by battery and therefore requiring me to reprogram the bloody thing when the batteries die.
It’s a nightmare out there, folks.
But that’s why you’re here, since I’ve gone through this hassle already and am recommending only the feeders that work!
Here are some things to look for, in case you want to do a lot of your own feeder research, like I’ve done:
- Food Storage Volume…how much food can it actually hold? Are you going to be filling it up every day, basically making the whole thing pointless?
- Portion Control…Can you get really specific about how much food to serve? Or does it give you like 4 options, which makes it impossible to get a perfect feed?
- Kibble Size Options…Will it work with both small and large kibble sizes? Some only work with super tiny kibble, while the good ones either have great mechanisms that do both, or come with a second kibble-size-dispenser-unit-thing that you can attach.
- Security…Can your smart cat actually get into the feeder and devour a week’s worth of food in one sitting?
Anyway, as you can see, this technology of food dispensing is amazing, but can get tricky real quick. Let me show you the feeder ratings I’ve given to the units I’ve reviewed below.
The Top Rated Automatic Cat Feeders
Top 4 Automatic Cat Feeders Reviewed
#1. PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Cat Feeder (EDITOR’S CHOICE)
Our top choice for cats of all sizes, this is THE cat feeder if you don’t want to compromise when it comes to your cats health and well-being.
With a nearly silent motor, an innovative conveyer belt to distribute just the right amount of food (which does indeed give out the correct amount each time, even over time), and a maximum capacity of 24 cups, it offers a ton of versatility to suit nearly every cat parent looking to spend less time worrying about feeding kitty.
While most people will only feed their kitty 3 or 4 meals per day, it offers up to 12 individual meals per day, perfect for very picky cats or those who need to eat very frequent but small meals for health reasons.
It’s very solid, and very well made, which means if your cat gets into it, you shouldn’t be upset…just impressed. Also, it lasts a lot longer than some of the others out there. Here’s what I do while testing to get a better idea of if they keep working:
- Plug the feeder in, set the correct time, and set at least one meal,
- Let them run for weeks, even without food in them to make sure the timing mechanism doesn’t slow down and the motor keeps working,
- Put a bit of food in them every few weeks, to ensure it’s ACTUALLY working,
- Check back on them and compare against the automatically-set time on my phone.
This one keeps on ticking, and as far as feeding stations go, is actually our preferred option now out of anything we’ve tried (i.e., we use this in our daily life, and I’ve got like, a pile of feeders in one corner of a room from testing them).
There are two drawbacks to this unit, one of which is just annoying (though fixable), one of which only concerns those like me with multiple cats (and thanks to amazing ingenuity from someone who owns one of these feeders, this is fixable now, too!).
1. It doesn’t come with a wall plug in adapter. Out of the box, your only option it to use 4 D batteries.
That’s a pain, because if the batteries die, you may not notice until a feeding or two have been missed. Plus, you’ll have to re-program it after putting in new batteries. Annoying.
I went with the slightly more expensive option that includes a wall outlet, because that way the batteries act as backup if the power ever goes out, but otherwise, I don’t have to worry about it needing to be re-programmed.
2. With two cats, I didn’t want to buy two of these due to being tight financially when I originally purchased it, and the food only distributes into one bowl.
Now, we’ve since bought another one because our cats do MUCH better when they can eat separately…we just time them at the same time so that the one cat doesn’t overpower the other and eat all the food.
At the time, however, some smarty pants ended up 3D printing (I think?) a splitter that you plug into the feeder hole. It basically turns it from a one-bowl feeder into a two-bowl feeder. Like this:
So while you spend a bit extra, both of the main drawbacks from this unit can be overcome. And for the peace of mind that comes with having a gadget that actually works and delivers exactly how much food I want my cats to have day in and day out, it is a small price to pay!
We love this unit, and suggest making the investment (not that much more than some inferior models, actually) so that it will last you for years to come.
>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<
2. WESTLINK 6L Dispenser Automatic Cat Feeder
Some people need:
- a video camera,
- two-way voice calling,
- an app,
- wifi connectivity,
- and more,
which takes their relatively normal feeder and turns it into a multi-hundred dollar technology trap.
I have tried many of these so-called technologically advanced feeders that allow you to do stuff from your phone, and nearly without fail, the app doesn’t connect, the feeder stops working due to a glitch on the company’s end, the camera is poor quality…it just makes no sense to me to spend so much money on something that doesn’t do it’s job, yet offers a lot of unnecessary extras.
So, I want to present to you a more basic, but incredibly reliable and easy to use cat feeder that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
I bring up the technological extras, because when I tried this one out, it just worked, which was such a huge difference after my experimenting with the techy ones, that it struck me that this is what all units should hope to be.
Just working is, sometimes, much more valuable than any fancy marketing mumbo jumbo!
Depending on your cat’s size, it’s got enough room to hold about a month’s worth of food, so it’s really set and forget for the whole month.
The timer mechanism and key pad, while not fancy, just plain work, and are actually easy to use. (The premise is basically hold the button you want to edit, then while holding, press another button to change something. i.e., hold TIME, then press HOURS, to change the hours. Simple, right?)
It keeps time, and actually distributes the right amount of cat food.
Now, it does take about one meal for the food to move through the system and give you the exact right amount, and when it’s getting empty, it starts to give slightly less food, so make sure you keep it topped up.
4 meals per day should be plenty for most people, and it’s incredibly versatile when it comes to meal sizes, going from 5 grams up to 195 grams per meal, in 5 gram increments.
If you use larger kibble, it even comes with a larger kibble distribution wheel mechanism thing that is easy to install. Like I said, lots of versatility for something that falls into such a reasonable price range.
My kitties liked the fact that they could hear me speaking when it was food time, since you can record a message up to 10 seconds long. The speaker isn’t great, so I had to speak very close to the microphone for it to be loud enough, but they learned that once they heard my voice it was food time.
I think it helps them remember that it’s still me giving them food so they don’t forget to keep loving me, ha!
Also a fan of how it comes with both battery and plug-in options right out of the box, so you don’t have to worry about batteries dying and wiping out your feeder settings.
Anyway, it’s less fancy than the PetSafe one we love, with fewer options, and less feeding times, but it has kept the time and feeding quantities accurate, and for this price, I think it’s the best of the bunch!
>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<
3 (TIE). PetSafe 5 Meal Automatic Cat Feeder
OK so if I’m honest I personally didn’t love this feeder.
I wanted to make sure we covered a couple of cheaper units, and also give the option to have units that worked with wet food (see review below this one), which I know can be a hassle for those looking to automate their cat’s feeding.
You’ll see that this timed feeder is usually less expensive than the other types out there, yet you still get up to 5 meals per day.
One problem right off the bat is that one meal is always exposed. And you have to fill it each day.
So you basically fill it for your cat’s first meal, put it down, let him eat, and then throughout the day the other 4 meals will rotate and become the “open” meal.
The timer is OK but I wouldn’t trust it as the batteries start to lose juice, and since it doesn’t have a wall plug-in, I’m not a huge fan.
The unit I bought seemed to have a somewhat-common problem, which was basically that the meal tray did not match up perfectly with the opening. If this kept up and/or got worse, I can see it being impossible for an animal to adequately get all the food in the tray.
So it’s not secret this isn’t my favorite, BUT I have seen it used successfully for distributing pills!
I’ve read about someone putting medicine inside of treats or food and filling this unit with just those. That way, you can make sure your pet gets his meds, he thinks he’s getting treats, and you’re not worried about having to get home from work on your lunch break to administer them.
If you don’t mind having to fill this daily, and can get a unit that is lined up properly, or you just want it for the meds, then you can certainly go for it, but personally I still recommend one of the units above!
>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<
3 (TIE). PetSafe 2 Meal Automatic Cat Feeder
This is a MUCH cheaper option, and you can rig it such that you can put wet meals in here.
It relies on a verrrrry basic manual timer system, and is kind of flimsy overall.
The fact that you can put an ice pack under the food trays if you rig it just right made me want to include this, since it’s about the only option for wet feeding automation.
The area you put your battery doesn’t have a cover on it, the timing units are very basic and not digital, and it just kind of looks and feels cheap.
If two meals a day is enough, or you can rig it to keep the wet food cold throughout the day (i.e., not spoil), or you just need SOMETHING but can’t afford the other models, certainly try this out, because it does technically work. But just don’t expect it to solve all of your problems!
>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<
What Is An Automatic Cat Feeder?
An automatic pet feeder is programmable and dispenses food automatically, usually by having you set a timer, so it can dispense when you are away from the machine.
Simple feeders rely on gravity to refill the bowl (actually they’re sometimes just called gravity feeders). They dispense fresh food as the food in the bowl gets eaten. They’re very common, fairly cheap, and decent choices if you don’t mind giving your cat free reign of when he or she eats.
Automatic feeders with timers are more expensive than their less regulated counterparts, but they provide a LOT more control over your kitty’s feeding habits. One thing is that you may want to build a housing for it if you’re putting it outdoors for your outdoor pal. They usually belong inside!
A timed cat feeder is perfect for cats on a diet. You can program them to deliver a small meal several times a day at the time of your choosing.
If you’re looking for regular old cat bowls that you can feed wet food from, for example, check out our top picks here.
Diabetes, heart problems and joint problems are just a few of the complications extra weight can add to your cat’s health. An automatic cat feeder combined with a diet cat food prescribed by your veterinarian is the best course of action for protecting your pet.