Pros & Cons of an Automatic Cat Feeder

Can you and your cat relate to the following scenario:

  • Your cat wakes you up early every day because they're hungry
  • You feel guilty if you come home late or go away for the weekend
  • Your cat is overweight or obese
  • Your cat eats too much or too quickly

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it's time to consider an automatic cat feeder.

Like a pet water fountain, this may seem like a frivolous investment. However, there are many significant benefits.

58% of cats in America are overweight. Like obesity in humans, cat obesity can lead to many serious health problems. An easy and effective way to prevent this is with a controlled and automatic cat feeder. How exactly do these machines work? How do you decide which one suits you and your cat? And what are the pros and cons of using one?

Read on for our complete guide to automatic cat feeders. Note: Before we begin, here is a list of our top five automatic cat feeder.

How Does an Automatic Cat Feeder Work?

As the name suggests, an automatic cat feeder is a machine that automatically feeds your cat. This is its core feature, but there is more to it than that. Designs vary, but most feeders feature a top section of inverted glass or plastic that holds the cat food. Depending on the model, this could be anywhere from 1 to 20 pounds. The bottom portion of the feeder is the dish where the food gets dispensed.

Another type of automatic feeder is an electronic food bowl. You'll fill up to six bowls with the desired amount of food and program feeding times into the machine. When it's meal time, the lid rotates, lifts, or slides off, allowing your cat to access her food.

Whichever type of feeder you choose, nearly all are programmable and come with detailed instruction manuals.

Is an Automatic Feeder Right for My Cat?

How do you know if an automatic feeder is the best choice for your cat? Before you buy anything, consider two main important factors.

Number of pets

For starters, how many pets are in your house? Do you have multiple cats or a mix of cats and dogs? If one or more of the animals are aggressive or competitive, this could result in serious problems at feeding time.

Age and health of your cat

How old and healthy is your cat? If she's young and active, she may figure out how to "break in" to the feeder. The last thing you need to avoid is to give your cat access to 20 pounds of food accidentally and end up vomiting due to excess feeding.

Still unsure if an automatic feeder is right for your cat? Let's discuss the benefits.

Benefits of an Automatic Cat Feeder

1. Better weight management

We've already touched on it, but let's discuss it some more.

A fat cat is not a healthy cat. Obesity is the foundation of serious health problems like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Not only does this mean your beloved pet is suffering, but it can cost you a lot of money in veterinary bills.

Many cat owners simply leave food out for their cat to graze on throughout the day. When the bowl is empty, they fill it up. The problem with this is that you have zero control over the amount of food your cat eats each day. Automatic feeders are the perfect solution for better weight management. By dispensing exactly the right amount of food at the right time, you can help your cat lose or maintain a healthy weight.

2. Peace of mind for you

Perhaps the greatest benefit of an automatic cat feeder is the convenience for the owner. You'll have the peace of mind knowing your cat is being fed whether or not you're at home. You'll also have a much healthier cat with a much healthier weight!

Like most of us, you probably lead a hectic life. Sometimes you oversleep or get stuck late at the office. Chances are you have enough of challenge regulating your own eating schedule, let alone your cat's! Life in today's hectic world makes it difficult to keep a set feeding routine for our pets. An automatic cat feeder will give you the peace of mind that your cat is being fed even if your schedule is crazy.

3. Less stress for your cat

All animals, including cats, have well-developed internal clocks. Whenever your cat starts weaving around your feet, you don't need to look at the clock to know it's feeding time. If it's mealtime and you're not home, this will create stress for your cat. The same goes for days when you oversleep and focus on making your breakfast instead of feeding your hungry cat.

And how often does your cat give you a "wake up call" when she's hungry in the morning? Eliminate the stress for both of you by investing in an automatic cat feeder.

4. More freedom for you

Do you work long hours? Do you need to go away overnight? Do you have an upcoming business trip or weekend getaway? Rather than stressing about finding a pet sitter, enlist the help of an automatic feeder. Many feeders are large enough to hold up to a weeks' worth of meals!

Just fill it up, program it for meals, and your cat will be automatically fed while you're away.

5. Control when your cat eats

If you're trying to set up a feeding schedule for your cat, an automatic feeder is a perfect solution. Many feeders are fully programmable. If you want your cat to eat at 5 AM, 9 AM, 1 PM, 5 PM, and 9 PM, it's literally as easy as the flip of a switch.

6. Control which pet eats the food

If you own several cats or pets, an automatic feeder could be your mealtime life saver! Does your dog constantly steal your cat's food? Do one or more of your pets fight when the food bowls go down? Does one of your cats gulp down her food while the other one never gets enough?

Automatic feeders can solve all these issues.

Some models come with electronic microchips that react only to the matching chip in your pet's collar. By equipping each of your pets with their chip and their feeder, each will get exactly the food they need.

7. Less bugs

Have you ever left out bowls of food when you went away for the weekend and came home to a house full of bugs? An automatic cat feeder is a clean, mess-free solution. Because less food is sitting out, it will attract fewer bugs.

Potential Cons of an Automatic Cat Feeder

This guide won't be complete if we miss out on the possible cons of automatic feeders.

1. Can be noisy

Although most cats will get used to it, some automatic feeders can make a lot of noise. This is important to consider if you're a light sleeper or if your cat is sensitive to noise. You don't want to make cat anxious when you're trying to make their life easier!

And you certainly don't want to wake up at 5 AM every morning to the sound of dispensing food. Make sure you choose the unit with minimal noise.

2. Food can get jammed

If you put in the wrong type of food (or the wrong size), the feeder can get jammed. And because it is a machine, it will eventually wear out and break. Be sure to research the best models before you make any investment.

3. Tipping hazard

Is your cat exceptionally large, strong, or clever? If so, she may quickly figure out where all her food is being stored. And if she's able, she could break into the feeder and ruin your perfectly programmed meal times.

These are a few potential drawbacks of an automatic cat feeder. But you'll probably agree that the list of benefits far outweighs any possible cons.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Feeder

Are you ready to begin shopping for an automatic cat feeder? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Feeder designs vary, but many works only with dry food. Don't accidentally put wet food in the machine, or you could break it!
  2. Choose a feeder that's fully programmable. Those with preset functions may dispense the wrong amount of food to your cat at the wrong times.
  3. Ensure the feeder you choose can dispense the kibble size you feed your cat.
  4. Check the storage capacity and make sure it can hold enough food for the day, weekend, or however long you're away.
  5. Be sure to buy a durable, well-constructed feeder, so curiosity doesn't get the better of your cat.

Final Thoughts

An automatic cat feeder may be a new idea, but the science behind it is sound. Used correctly, it can help your cat to maintain a healthy weight and feel less anxiety around feeding time. It can also help you, the owner, to feel less stressed.

For more tips on keeping your four-legged friend healthy, be sure to check out our list of cat health blogs. Have you used an automatic cat feeder? What was your experience with it? Leave your thoughts in the box below!

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