A Luxury – or an Essential?
Some people think that automatic pet feeders are simply one more gadget for lazy or neglectful owners. But the reality is that there are many valid reasons why a loving pet owner would want one of these conveniences.
For example, some pets have medical conditions, such as diabetes that require them to have frequent meals at regular intervals. This could become quite a chore, especially if you must look after your pet alone. A feeder can take some of the strain off of you if you have a special needs pet.
Another benefit of an automatic feeder is that it can stop your cat or dog from pestering you for meals. When they learn that the food comes, not from you but from the feeder, then they simply wait by the feeder until it’s time to eat. If you’ve ever had a cat asking for breakfast at 5:30 in the morning, you can appreciate the benefit this could offer.
A common problem for many of us is having to work long hours, and not being able to be home except for early in the morning and in the evening. You can leave a day’s supply of food out for your pet, but this can lead to overeating, or food becoming stale.
Automatic pet feeders also let you leave home for a weekend away while your cat or dog continues to enjoy their meals uninterrupted. But please remember that even the most reliable feeder is not a replacement for human care. Someone must visit your pet at least once a day to ensure their safety and well-being.
Choosing an Auto Pet Feeder
Some people start by asking “What’s the best automatic pet feeder I can buy?” But the answer to this question will depend on what you actually want your feeder to do.
For example, are you looking for a feeder that will control your pet’s portions, or one that simply provides a continuous supply? Do you prefer to serve your pet wet or dry food? Do you want a feeder that will provide meals for a week or just one day?
Some devices offer large portions, suitable for dogs, while others are only suitable for cats or small dog breeds. Some owners have multiple pets they want to feed, while some only have one pet with very particular needs. There are different feeder models to meet all of these requirements!
Features of Quality Models
Once you’ve decided on the type of feeder you want, here are some things to look for to get the best value for your dollar.
One of the most important questions to ask is, will this feeder be reliable? Factors in a quality feeder include being solidly built rather than being made of flimsy materials.
Animals will often try to tamper with a machine when hungry or bored. A good feeder will be pet-proof and not subject to overturning or opening.
Also consider maintenance. A good feeder should be easy to clean. Ideally you should be able to put it in the dishwasher for sterilizing. Programmable feeders should be easy to understand, so you don’t have to worry about whether you set it incorrectly.
Finally, you should be able to turn to the manufacturer for support when your having trouble. A good company will offer a support line where your questions can be answered. The best way to ensure that you will have a reliable feeder is if it’s sold with a good warranty.
List Price: $129.99
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- Timer serves up to four meals a day
- Adjustable meal size from 1/4 to 2-1/2 cups
- Large feeder contains weeks of dry food
- Sensor stops feeder if food is still in the tray
- Designed to reliably prevent blockage in dispenser
A company called Qpets has designed the closest thing to a robot butler for your pet. This automatic feeder comes with a full set of features to provide one or several pets with consistent meals for a week or more.
The feeder dispenses dry food from a large container into a tray from 1 to 4 times a day. The tray can contain up to 2-1/2 cups of food, making it appropriate for larger animals, as well as several small animals.
It’s controlled by a sophisticated electronic timer that gives you a full range of options, so you can set precisely both the number and size of meals. It even has a voice record feature, so you can “call” your pets to dinner when you’re not around.
Some users have reported finding the programmable features hard to figure out, but a careful reading of the detailed manual should ensure you can set it the way you want it.
It comes with a number of safety features to ensure reliability. This includes an anti-blockage feature to prevent the dispenser from becoming blocked and unable to function. An electronic sensor stops the dispenser when there’s still food in the tray. An alarm lets you know when it’s time to reset the feeder.
The food container has a lockable cover to prevent larger animals from getting into it. The entire feeder is solidly built of ABS plastic to resist breakage.
While it has a number of electronic features, it’s power use is similar to other electronic models. It uses 4 D-batteries and an indicator lets you know when they’re running low.
If you’re just looking for something simple, you probably won’t be impressed by the higher price on this model. But if you want a sturdy and reliable feeder with all the bells and whistles you may want to give this one a try.
- Large capacity
- Fully programmable
- Reliable operation, safety features
- Durable construction
- Higher cost
- More complicated programming
List Price: $29.99
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- Large plastic container automatically feeds dry food into bowl
- Provides several days worth of cat or dog food
- removable stainless steel bowl allows for effortless cleaning
- Allows your pet to have food on demand, when you’re out
If you have more than one or two pets (or one very large pet), keeping them fed on their preferred schedule can be a chore, especially if their feeding area is in the basement. The Petsafe Food Station provides a consistent supply of their favorite dry food even when you’re out of the house.
This is an attractive and simple feeder with no complicated motors or timers. You simply fill the large BPA-free plastic container and let gravity fill the removable bowl. The food container locks into place to prevent spilling and is semi-transparent so you can see when it’s time to refill.
To refill the container, you simply unscrew the top. The spout can be locked to allow you to remove the stainless steel bowl for cleaning. Just transfer the food to another bowl and return it when you’ve cleaned the bowl. All of the parts are easy to clean and can be placed in the dishwasher for sanitizing.
The feeder comes in small, medium and large sizes which can hold two, four and ten pounds of food respectively. Add the Petsafe Water Fountain to make your pet’s feeding area complete.
With no mechanisms to break down, the feeding station promises consistent and reliable meals for multiple animals while you’re out of the house. And you can place it anywhere without worrying about where to plug it in.
However there is no automatic shut-off feature, which makes it inappropriate if you pet likes to eat to excess. Also it’s design makes it open to potential pests, so it’s an indoor feeder only, and not great if you have a mouse problem.
Some users find the food sticking in the holder. The best way to prevent this from happening is by using food that comes in small, round pieces.
In conclusion, while this feeder lacks some features you’d like a simple and easy to use device for keeping your pets fed, this one may be the perfect answer.
- Hygienic stainless steel bowl is easy to remove and clean
- Works without batteries, not subject to breaking down
- Easy to assemble, refill and clean
- Modern design looks great in your kitchen
- Cannot control the portions
- Lightweight plastic design can be pushed around by larger pets
- Not pest-proof