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Best Automatic, Timed, and Programmable Cat Feeders And Waterers | New 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 feeders and water fountains. 

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! 

I’ve reviewed the best of the best and will give you my top pick below. And hurry, the relief can’t come soon enough!

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automatic feeders

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:

  • 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 stuff that works!

Here are some things to look for, in case you want to do a lot of your own 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 ratings I’ve given to the units I’ve reviewed below.

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Top 4 Automatic Cat Feeders

#1. PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Our top choice for cats of all sizes, this is THE unit 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 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 them 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 unit. 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.

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

2. WESTLINK 6L Dispenser

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 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 kibble.

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!

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

3 (TIE). PetSafe 5 Meal

OK so if I’m honest I personally didn’t love this feeder. 

HOWEVER…

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 one 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!

 

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

3 (TIE). PetSafe 2 Meal

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!

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>> 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.

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.

automatic fountains

How And Why To Find The Best Fountain / Waterer

Providing daily supplies of fresh water is just as crucial to your feline furball as feeding it is.

Unlike us, cats don’t have a strong sense of thirst. As such, they can easily get dehydrated.

Many kitties are known to be quite finicky and capricious (shocking, I know).

They’ll refuse to drink if the water bowl is placed near the food bowl, or they’ll wrinkle their noses at the sight of deep water bowls or unclean ones. And that will only lead to dehydration and numerous health problems.

Cats often tend to drink from running taps, like the bathtub faucet or the sink. Why is that?

Cats genuinely dislike the idea of drinking still water – like the one found in the water bowl, which you forgot to clean two days in a row.

Felines prefer drinking from natural sources of running water. And that’s one of the reasons why you’re now seeing so many options for auto watering devices.

Nowadays the market is full of tons of water fountains, and you’re bound to get cheated into wasting money on a good-for-nothing product unless you’ve done your homework, which is hard due to the sheer volume of them.

Fortunately, we’ve already done the research for you!

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Top 3 Automatic Cat Fountains / Waterers

#1. PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Probably the nicest, most hygienic, and smartest system out there, I love this design from PetSafe.

First, it’s not plastic, which I love. There’s too much uncertainty about certain plastics causing feline acne, and they can be tough to clean when they start aging. 

I also love the design, which is not only aesthetically pleasing to me, but makes a ton of sense for your cats.

  1. Dual flow for multiple cats – This is perfect if you have a couple of cats like we do. Each side of the unit has a small waterfall area where your kitties can lap up the falling water separately without getting in each other’s way.
  2. Aeration for fresher, tastier water – The falling water also brings oxygen into the equation, providing a tastier and fresher drinking experience, which can help your kitty drink just that little bit extra to keep them hydrated.
  3. Multi-tiered for different sizes – Whether you’ve got a tiny or huge kitty, or multiple pets are sharing, they’ll be able to drink out of this comfortably, as it’s got a couple of tiers with different heights

It’s also very easy to clean, as the top part can go in the dishwasher, and the ceramic makes the whole thing easier to clean and keep clean.

The carbon filters are replaceable so this should last you for ages, and allow you to continue providing fresh and yummy water to your pets.

It wasn’t an issue for me, and I almost found it relaxing, but I know that some people don’t like the additional splashing noise that this makes.

The water flows directly onto the water below it, unlike some other models, which have “splash guards” to limit the splashing noise.

Not a deal breaker, but it’s one of the few concerns people have had about this. 

Some have added aquarium rocks or glass plates as splash guards, so there’s always a solution!

Whatever your noise preferences, this is our favorite waterer and is perfect for one or multiple cats of all sizes!

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

2. Pioneer Pet Raindrop

Not sold on our ceramic choice? 

No worries, we think this stainless steel option is a fantastic one as well.

While plastic is fine for the most part, I love the idea of going that extra step to ensure your little ball of fur has the cleanest and safest accessories.

Although the shape and steel are a little similar, this does not, in fact, look like a chamber pot…it should look perfectly modern and decorative in a wide variety of homes.

Looking nice isn’t everything, but when your home gets overrun with cat stuff, personally I like to choose a few pieces that enhance, rather than distract from, my house’s looks.

Love the calming movement of this, as the one side of it has got a pump that pushes water up and over a slide of sorts. But while my little guys loved to lap up the moving water on the slide thing, it does have a spot that looks more like a regular water bowl, so it will suit any personality!

You will need to clean it at least monthly, though it can be disassembled and put in the dishwasher (read the manual to make sure you don’t put the wrong pieces in!!) so it’s not that bad.

Also, you’ll want to buy additional filters for this, since you should probably change them once per month if you’ve got one or two cats. Not a big deal but you do need to remember the upkeep required on something like this.

While we like the ceramic one better, and it does seem to be slightly better constructed (particularly in regards to the wiring and pump), this is a definite strong second which looks great in the home!

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

3. Catit Flower

Don’t care about sleek ceramic or stainless steel bowls? BORING, right?

Well then you’ll love this cute flower design by Catit!

We’ve been harassing plastic the last few sections, but this is actually a really good fountain, and it’s obvious to see that it’s a quality product once you use it for yourself. 

There are three “modes” thanks to the removable flower pieces:

  1. Slow bubbling, large surface area – Flower Out
  2. Multi-directional fountain flow – Flower Stem In
  3. Softer multi-directional fountain flow – Flower Stem and Flower Center In

This gives you a ton of versatility if you find your cat loves one version or the other. 

The downside of this unit is that you’ve got to replace the filter every month or so, and they seem more expensive than others. Luckily there are third party options hitting the market that may help to reduce your out of pocket cost over the year.

All in all, though, this was super cute, seemed really well made, and I loved that I had three different “flow” options to play with.

My kitties liked the first (ceramic) one best, but I’m super confident putting this on our list of the best ones we’ve ever reviewed.

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

What Is An Automatic Cat Fountain (Waterer)?

Some cats LOVE to drink flowing water. Rain running off a plant, your faucet, that cup of water they just knocked over on the counter which is now dripping onto the floor…

So when it comes to drinking stale water out of a bowl that sits out for days, you can understand why some cats dehydrate themselves by not drinking enough water.

A dehydrated cat is not a healthy cat, and can make him miserable, depressed, or ornery. 

Thankfully, buying one of these devices can help your cat drink more water, by enticing him with it’s drip or flow. 

By being more interested, or just simply preferring the fresher, tastier water that comes with movement and flow, your kitty may start drinking enough, which can improve his health and mood.

cat bowls

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Top 3 Normal Cat Bowls (Plus an Interactive One!)

Not sold on this whole auto-feeder thing? No worries, you’ve got to do what works for you!

Here are a couple of intricacies that you may not have thought about when it comes to these basic forms of feeders.

Cats rely on their whiskers to navigate. A deep bowl with high sides squishes their whiskers. This is uncomfortable for cats.

Not only are their whiskers compromised, but they cannot sense what is happening around them. Bowls with high sides also block their vision.

This is why many cats circle their food bowls discontentedly during dinner time. They do not feel like they are in a safe position to eat.

Purchase a wide, shallow dish instead of a deep bowl to allow her whiskers room to spread. 

Or, if your cat scarfs down her meals like she’s starving, maybe you need to slow her down with an interactive “slow” feeder. Basically, it makes it a game for them. You put the food in, and they’ve got to pick it out of the tight spaces, which of course takes longer when they’re getting just one or two bits of kibble at a time!

Here are three dishes that are safe for your cat and received top ratings from us – cat lovers just like you.

1. CatGuru Bowl

I was so excited when I saw this bowl, because I thought that it came from a thread on Reddit that I read ages ago.

At the time, some guy measured his cats face and did a whole bunch of fancy stuff with 3D printing, and came out with a bowl that sloped gently like this.

I don’t think it’s the same thing, but either way I’m pumped to find this on the market!

Basically, as I mentioned above, cats can get whisker fatigue, which is uncomfortable for them and can hurt their abilities to finish their food.

This has a gentle slope that allows the cat to be in full control of their eating experience.

Plus, it only fits one meal at a time (roughly), so you’re forced to pay attention to how often and how much your cat eats. Good to keep them healthy!

This comes in 2 shapes, one better for kittens (the oval) and one best for full growns (the circle), and a number of fun colors. 

CatGuru gets our top pick for this innovative, non-slip, nicely crafted, dishwasher safe, cat-friendly offering!

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

2. Necoichi Raised Bowl

Being conscious of your cat’s comfort is important!

That’s why we recommended the whisker-comfort bowl above, and why we’re recommending this one, to help your cat from straining when he leans down to eat.

This is raised above the ground, so feeding time involves less of a strained neck – especially important for senior cats!

The “regular” size is about 3 inches tall, which isn’t a lot, so it’s not like it’ll tip over, but it’s just enough that it provides some neck relief. (Also comes in smaller and larger sizes).

Also, it’s pretty cute, right?

This is a wonderful option for senior cats who can’t bend down so easily, messy eaters, and cats who eat too fast.

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

3. Northmate Interactive Puzzle Slow Feeder

It may look like a bizarre alien thing, but this handy contraption turns feeding time into a stimulating game.

And most importantly, slows meal time down for your vacuum cleaner…er, I mean, cat.

It can also be useful for those who have jaded views about dinner time, and find these more enticing than the empty challenge of a food bowl.

This one is affordable, dishwasher safe, soft and round enough that it doesn’t jab your sweetie’s eyes out when she bends down to get the kibble, and generally just a useful thing to have to slow eating down a notch or two and stop all that vomiting!

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>> Click to see the price on Amazon.com <<

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  • Updated February 8, 2018
  • Food
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
John Lombardo - February 13, 2017

Love your website, very helpful review! I think you should check out PawBot which is a wet canned food dispenser robot. It has a 18 can capacity and will open the cans and serve as your pet ..

Reply
    Cat Owner - March 11, 2017

    PawBot looks cool but the price tag is way TOO steep, close to $3000

    Reply

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