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Are you looking for the best automatic pet feeder to keep your dog or cat fed and watered while you’re out?
You’ve come to the right place.
In this buying guide, we review the best automatic pet feeders for dogs and cats. We look at the best features of each and warn you of any issues you should watch out for.
Side note: If you’re struggling to keep your home free of pet hair and dander, take a look at our popular list of the best robotic vacuums for pet hair. Or, if you need a self-cleaning litter box for your cat, then check out our litter robot buying guide here.
What’s In This Guide
Best Automatic Pet Feeders 2020
1. Best Automatic Cat Feeder: Pet Feedster PF-10 PLUS CAT
The Pet Feedster (latest model) is our favorite automatic pet feeder for cats.
It’s easy to use, offer a wide range of portion control and scheduling options, and is tough enough to withstand those unavoidable shenanigans from your cat.
1. Adjustable flex feeder
The most important component of Pet Feedster is the flex feeder. It’s the part that measures precise amounts of food to be poured into the feeding bowl.
What I love most about this feeder is that you can set a wide range of portions from as much as 6 cups to as little as one spoon.
This is different than most automatic feeders that only allow specific measurements like 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup.
The wide range of portions makes it possible to meet the precise feeding needs of your cat.
If you are working to slim him down, for instance, you can give smaller portions. It also lets you put in different food sizes of various shapes and sizes. All you need to do is adjust the setting on the flex feeder.
The flex feeder also works as an auger. It rotates inside the feeder & stirs up the kibble, which prevents clumping and ensures the feeder doesn’t jam.
2. Flexible meal scheduling
The hopper – the part that holds the food – holds up to 10 lbs of pet food.
You can then program the timer to dispense up to 8 meals a day.
The scheduler gives you plenty of options and the timer is digital so you can set precise times such as 6:15 am or 1:43 pm.
You can also set how much food will be dispensed for each meal. For instance, set a larger portion in the morning and decrease the portions as the day progresses.
There is a pause button that lets you stop the schedule whenever you want. No more food will be dispensed until you restart the schedule.
It takes time to get used to the settings and options in the beginning. But when you do, it’s easy.
3. Meal confirmation
One of the most intuitive features of the Pet Feedster is the meal confirmation display.
On the small screen, a line of 8 circles represents the maximum number of meals the feeder can dispense in a day. With each meal, one of the circles becomes dark.
So when you get home after work, you can simply look at the screen to know how many meals have been dispensed.
Ants are a major problem in many areas. To prevent ants from getting into the pet food in the hopper, the Feedstar uses a moat.
Underneath the main body, there is a hidden space that holds water. Ants that attempt to climb up into the food are trapped by the water.
This means you can use the pet feeder outside without worrying about an ant infestation.
The main complaint we have with this unit is that it takes time to get used to the settings and scheduling buttons. The interface is a bit complicated. You have to use some trial and error to get the exact meal setting you want.
We suggest spending some time with the manual and check online for videos if you need help operating the pet feeder.
The first version of the flex feeder used to be too weak and breaking quickly – you’ll see some bad reviews about this from years ago. Today’s updated version of the Feedster has a stronger, more durable body and flex feeder.
One addition that would be nice is the ability to wash the hopper. Currently, it not removable and you cannot pour water into it. The only way to wash it is by wiping it with a moist cloth.
The Pet Feedster for cats is a bit more expensive than other automatic pet feeders, but it’s one of the most flexible and easiest to live with, in the real world.
Once you get the hang of setting the timer, it is a breeze to use. It works like a charm and will last for years without any issues.
2. Best Automatic Dog Feeder: PetSafe Healthy Pet (non-WiFi)
The PetSafe automatic feeder is fairly easy to configure, holds plenty of food (up to 24 cups) and can dispense both dry and semi-moist foods.
This PetSafe model also comes with unique features such as slow feed (for voracious dogs) and pauses.
1. Easy meal planning
The programming is straightforward, and you get a lot of flexibility to set specific meal times and portions.
The hopper holds 24 cups of food while the bowl can hold up to 5 cups at a time.
You can set the pet feeder to dispense up to 12 meals a day. Set a specific time for each meal and how much food will be dispensed for each meal time. Portion sizes range from 1/4 cup to 4 cups.
The buttons are easy to operate, and there’s a small display to show you what’s happening.
2. Jam-proof conveyor belt
The PetSafe automatic feeder uses a conveyor belt mechanism to deliver kibble portions to the stainless steel bowl. It can dispense dry and semi-moist foods of different shapes and sizes.
The mechanism is designed to prevent jamming which can prevent food from getting dispensed.
3. Multiple feeding modes
Using the buttons on the control panel, there are several feeding modes you can set.
My favorite is the slow feed mode. If your pup is the type to greedily eat up all the food in less than a minute and then get a stomach upset shortly after, you’ll appreciate this feature.
When you activate slow feed (by pressing the button with the turtle image), the conveyor dispenses the food a little at a time. A single portion will be dispensed over 15 minutes to force the dog to eat more slowly to prevent bloating and vomiting.
Another mode – the Immediate Feed mode –allows you to dispense a set portion of food instantly outside of the schedule. This is handy if you want to reward your pup with a snack or give them an extra meal.
Another mode – Pause – lets you pause the scheduling with just the press of a button.
4. Easy cleaning
This pet feeder comes with a stainless steel feeding bowl. It’s more hygienic, it’s easier to clean, and you can even put it in the dishwasher.
The rest of the feeder is also easy to disassemble and clean.
5. Uses batteries or AC adaptor
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder uses four D batteries (not included) which last roughly one year. You can also connect it to an outlet though you’ll need to buy an AC Adaptor separately.
The pet feeder has so many functions, yet the control buttons have five buttons only. So it takes some time to figure your way around the various settings. You’ll have to keep the user manual close the first few times you configure the feeder.
But once you get used to it, it’s really easy to use.
There is also the issue of portions. The least amount of food it can dispense is 1/8 of a cup. For elderly cats or kittens which need smaller portions, there’s nothing you can do.
If you are looking for the most reliable and easiest-to-use automatic dog feeder, you can’t go wrong with the PetSafe automatic pet feeder. It’s easy to use, serves food without jamming and is a breeze to clean.
3. Best Pet Feeder for Overnight Trips: PetSafe Smart WiFi
If you are planning to be away overnight, you need an automatic pet feeder that can hold enough food to last 24 hours or more and lets you monitor your pet’s food situation on your smartphone.
The PetSafe WiFi automatic dog and cat feeder is our top choice for pet owners who like to take overnight trips.
It’s the same unit as the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder above, but with WiFi connectivity and a companion app included for remote monitoring.
1. Customizable programming
The hopper holds up to 24 cups of food. You can set specific meal times (12 meals maximum) and the portions to be dispensed at each time.
Portion size ranges between 1/8 of a cup to 4 cups.
It takes some time to learn how to work the buttons and set a schedule, but the manual has simple detailed instructions you can follow. Not that big a deal.
2. Multiple feeding modes
This smarter version of the original PetSafe automatic feeder offers the same feeding modes as the non-smart option.
There’s a Slow Feed mode that releases food slowly over 15 minutes; a Feed Now mode for immediate feeding outside of the set schedule and a Pause mode to temporarily interrupt the feeding schedule.
You can disable the Feed Now button to prevent your dog or child from pressing it, too.
3. Remote control and monitoring (smartphone app)
If you want to control the pet feeder remotely, you’ll need to connect it to your home WiFi network.
Then use the companion app which is available for Android and iOS devices.
The app lets you to set a feeding schedule, change your settings and monitor how much your pet is feeding. You can also access the feed now button and receive alerts on your phone.
4. Easy cleaning
The stainless steel bowl is great for hygiene and is easy to clean.
The bowl, hopper and bowl holder are all dishwasher safe, too. The conveyor belt can be removed but must be hand washed.
There are little arrows and markings to show you how to disassemble the unit and put it back together after cleaning, so if you need someone else to help while you are away on a long trip, it’s not that hard to figure out.
As with the non-smart PetSafe feeder, the portion size choices could be more versatile to allow for smaller feedings for certain pets.
It also takes time to learn your way around the myriad of functions and settings. This unit takes some time to setup, too, because you have to connect it to your router and download the app.
But it’s not that hard – and once you get used to it, using it is easy.
If you want to be able to feed your pet and set a schedule from the office or while traveling, then get this smart PetSafe automatic feeder.
Despite being ‘smart,’ it is surprisingly easy to use – from anywhere.
4. Best Combination Feeder + Water Source: MelegOtthon
Unlike most of the other choices reviewed here, the MelegOtthon automatic feeder and watering station is a gravity pet feeder.
It does not use electricity, instead it lets food & water fall into the bowl slowly, using gravity.
The MelegOtthon is a great choice if you don’t want to worry about loss of power, and it’s perfect for outdoor use since you don’t have to plug it in.
MelegOtthon also costs considerably less than a powered feeder.
And it works great!
1. Large capacity
The pet feeder containers are really big. They are two separate feeders; one for the food and one for water.
Each has a capacity of 3.8 liters. They’ll hold enough food and water to feed your pet for 3-5 days.
2. Secure and sturdy
The feeders are very well built. The plastic is food-grade and BPA-free. You can rest assured it’s safe for your pets.
The base is sturdy to hold the weight of the food and prevent pets from knocking it over. The base has a non-skid pad that ensures the feeders cannot be pushed even by a large dog.
The water dispenser has a spiral barrel mouth and a spring valve to ensure water doesn’t leak. Only a little is dispensed at a time. The food feeder also dispenses just a little food at a time. It won’t fill the bowl to overflowing.
3. Easy to clean
Most of the components can be disassembled and cleaned. This includes the base and the barrels that hold the food and water.
The seller recommends cleaning them once a week.
4. Easy to use
One upside of having a very simple design is that the pet feeders are incredibly easy to operate.
For the food feeder, open the lid at the top and add food. That’s it.
You don’t have to set a timer or worry about portion sizes. As for the water feeder, it works a lot like a kitchen water dispenser. Take the large container out of the base and add water from the tap. Screw the lid on and put it back over the base.
The main problem with gravity feeders like these is that you cannot control or meter-out portions over time.This is a big disadvantage for pets that lack the discipline to control their food intake.
Another issue is that there’s no lid for the food bowls, since pets must be able to access the food at all times. With food always feeding into the bowl, the pets can cause quite a mess and drain away all of their reserves if they play around too much. Ants and other critters can also get into the food or water especially if you leave the feeders outdoors.
If you are looking for an inexpensive and really simply automatic food and water feeder and you don’t need to control portion sizes or frequency that much, then this is a great choice.
5. Best WebCam Feeder: PETAMO Automatic Cat and Dog Feeder
Most WiFi-connected automatic feeders make it possible to control and monitor your feeder from anywhere using your smartphone.
The Petamo automatic cat feeder leverages your home network one step further, to let you watch and talk to your cat through a video/speaker unit installed right on the feeder.
1. Programmable feeding options
It’s easy to automate your pet’s feeding schedule using the Petamo automatic pet feeder.
You can set up to 5 meals a day, with meals ranging from 10 grams to as much as 100 grams per time slot. This allows you to precisely customize your pet’s portions depending on its health and feeding needs.
For each meal you can decide how much food will be dispensed. The options are between 1 and ten portions. Each portion is around 24ml.
Once you set the number of meals, the time for each meal and the number of portions for each meal you are good to go. The feeder will do the rest.
There is also a manual feed mode which allows you to instantly dispense a certain amount of food into the feeding bowl. Great for reward snacks or when you need to give your pet an extra meal out of the normal feeding schedule.
2. Large capacity hopper
The Petamo feeder comes with a massive 3.4 liter hopper.
When filled with pet food, it can last a few days to a week depending on how much your pet eats.
This is great for pet parents with a very busy schedule or singles who travel for days at a time.
With this unit, you can only use dry food with kibble between 0.2 and 0.59 inches in size. This ensures that food is dispensed smoothly without jamming.
3. Remote app control and monitoring
If you want you can control the pet feeder remotely using your smartphone.
You’ll need to download the companion app first (free for iOS and Android) and then link up the feeder to your home WiFi network (2.4GHz only).
Then, as long as the feeder remains connected to WiFi, you can set the feeding schedule, monitor how your pet is feeding and use the manual mode from anywhere be it from the office or your vacation.
4. Audio and video interactions
The best part of the Petamo automatic feeder is that you can see and talk to your pet during meal time – how cool is that?
The feeder uses an integrated webcam at the front through which you can watch a live video feed at any time in the app (feeder needs to be connected to WiFi).
You can also record videos or take still images and store them on your phone.
There is also a voice record feature on the app that lets you send a voice message to your pet right now or play it every feeding time.
A mic in the feeder also lets you hear any noises they make.
The main issue we have with the Petamo feeder is the limited number of meals allowed per day.
Five meals in a day is not enough for some larger pets or pets on a special diet that requires many small portions.
It would be nice if they bumped up this number to at least 7 or 10. After all, the hopper is quite big and can handle the increased meal times.
Several customers have also complained about the app being a bit outdated and frustrating to use. We agree.
Have you ever missed your pet so much at work that you wished you could see him or talk to her?
Well, now you with the Petamo automatic pet feeder.
With flexible portion control and a huge food bin, the Petamo is also a great buy if you have a busy schedule that keeps you away from home.
6. Best Value Automatic Feeder: Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder
The Feed-and-Go is a low-priced automatic pet feeder that comes with a ton of functions including a built-in webcam. It can also handle wet and dry food or even medicine dispensing.
1. 6 8oz trays for dry/wet food, medications and treats
Different automatic pet feeders use different mechanisms to dispense food. Some use a rotating auger that lets out a specific amount of food. Others use a conveyor belt.
The Feed and Go smart pet feeder uses another method that is 100% jam-proof.
The food is contained in 6 separate cup-sized trays. In the morning before you go, you fill each tray with the amount of food you want your pet to eat.
Because the food itself is not moving through anything, you can put in wet food or dry food (or anything else) without worrying about jamming the unit. You can also put in treats or even medication.
One tray is opened at a time, during the set feeding time.
2. Remote scheduling and monitoring
There are no buttons for setting a feeding schedule on the pet feeder.
You must connect the feeder to WiFi and then use the companion app or a desktop browser to access your account and set a schedule.
You can create a 1-time feeding schedule or a repeating schedule controlling up to 6 meals per day.
There is also a manual feeding button which rotates the feeder immediately to open one of the food trays.
A manual feeding touch button is also available on the feeder. But you have to first unlock the feeder by pressing two buttons at the same time. This prevents pets and kids from accidentally (or knowingly) pressing the ‘feed now’ button.
3. Webcam and speaker
There is a webcam integrated into the feeder that lets you see what your pet is doing from your phone or browser.
There is also a microphone with which you can record a short message.
You then use the ‘call my pet over’ button on the app to play the message and tell your pet it’s time to eat.
4 Easy to clean
The food holder is removable and can be cleaned in a dishwasher.
Note: The seller recommends keeping wet foods in the tray for a maximum of 24 hours.
One notable limitation of the Feed and Go smart pet feeder is that you can’t control it without WiFi.
To set a schedule, you have to connect it to WiFi and then download the app or use your computer browser to log in to your account.
Once you create a schedule, however, it’s stored inside the feeder rather than in the cloud, so if WiFi disconnects the feeder will still work as scheduled. You won’t have to worry about your pet going hungry.
The other big drawback is the limitation on the number of trays you can serve before refilling. This unit only contains enough meals for one day.
If you only want a single-day feeder and want the latest WiFi-connected features, then the Feed and Go is an excellent and simple choice.
It’s far less expensive than most automatic feeders and comes with most of the functions and features you need to keep your pet well fed & happy while you’re at work or shopping.
7. Best for Multiple Pets: PortionProRx Automatic Cat and Dog Feeder
If you have two or more pets that fight over food, the PortionProRx is the best automatic pet feeder.
It is designed to prevent pets from eating each other’s food. It’s especially helpful if your dog has developed a taste for cat food.
If the dog approaches the cat feeder, it closes automatically and only opens when the cat comes close.
1. RFID Technology
The feeder uses RFID technology to keep one pet from stealing the other pet’s food.
It comes with a tag with a battery-powered RFID tag. It more powerful and has a longer range than the passive microchips embedded in most pets.
By the time the pet is within 2 feet of the feeder, a flap over the bowl automatically slides open.
For this to work, you have to assign each tag to a specific feeder.
If the other pet approaches, the flap automatically closes until it goes away.
The flap also closes when the assigned pet moves away from the feeder, ensuring kids and other pets don’t touch the food.
2. Flexible Meal Scheduling
You can schedule up to two six meals a day.
The feeder doesn’t allow you to set specific portion sizes for each meal. Instead, you select how many cups of kibble you want your pet to eat in a 24-hour period.
You can set as little as 1/8 of a cup or as much as 6 cups. The feeder then divides the total daily amount equally among the set number of portions.
A belt system then dispenses each portion at the time you set.
3. Meal Log
The PortionProRx doesn’t have WiFi connectivity so you can’t monitor it from your phone when you are at work or receive alerts.
But there is a meal log you can access on the small screen that displays the last two meal times and the next meal.
If there was a missed meal, for instance in case of a power outage, the feeder will display an alert. The meal log will also show that the meal was missed.
4. Safe for Pets
The flap opening and closing mechanism are safe for pets and even kids. It closes gently to avoid hurting a trapped paw or finger.
If it senses there is an obstruction, it will pull back.
The feeder components are also safe for your pet. The ceramic-coated steel bowl is easy to clean and provides anti-microbial protection.
The plastic parts are food-grade.
The feeder plus one tag actually cost around the same as other automatic pet feeders. But you’ll need a feeder and tag for each pet if you don’t want them to fight.
There are also ongoing costs. The RFID tags last a year and don’t have replaceable batteries. That means buying new tags every year.
Another issue is that the RFID system is not foolproof.
The flap takes around 10 seconds to close, providing a window where a smart dog can rush in and gobble up the cat food.
Though expensive, the PortionProRx makes it easier to keep your pets well fed.
You don’t have to worry that one pet will starve the other or that one of them will overfeed.
It’s also helpful for pets that are overweight or are on a prescription diet. You can configure the feeder to dispense just the right amount of food at specific times.
Benefits of an Automatic Pet Food Dispenser
An automatic pet food dispenser is a deceptively awesome appliance for any pet owner. It can make you and your pet’s life better in many ways, including:
- Feeding your pets is a LOT easier – especially if you have a busy schedule. If your cat keeps waking you up at 5 am for food, then an automatic pet feeder will help you sleep while he gets his breakfast. When you leave for work, you don’t have to worry about coming back at a certain time to feed the pet. The feeder will automatically dispense food at specific times. You can even travel out of town for a few days without having to find a pet sitter.
- Gain control over your pet’s eating habits – and diet. Some pets need a strict feeding timetable.They have to eat specific portions at specific times. Sticking to such a schedule with an automatic feeder is easy. Normally you’d leave a bowl full of food before going to work. The problem is that your pet cannot regulate its feeding. Most pets will overeat and get overweight. An automatic pet feeder prevents this by dispensing only small food portions. It’s also a great way to help already overweight pets slim down.
- Monitor and interact with your pet from anywhere. If you get a smart feeder with remote app control, you can monitor your pet’s feeding behavior from wherever you are. Feeders with webcams and speakers let you see your pet and even talk to her. This can be really beneficial for pets suffering from separation anxiety or older or sick pets that need monitoring.
- Keeps rodents and insects out of your pet’s food.
Disadvantages of Automatic Pet Feeders
- It’s can be difficult to know when the feeder has malfunctioned or jammed which can leave your pet without food. That’s why it’s important to buy a reliable jam-proof pet feeder.
- They can be noisy as the kibble hits the feeding bowl. For pets that are scared of loud noises, this will be a problem and can even keep them from eating.
- Some feeders can be knocked over or moved by your pet. Make sure the feeder you buy is well-built for your pet’s size and behaviors and can’t be toppled over or pushed.
- Most automatic feeders do not serve wet food. If your pet is on a wet food diet, find a feeder that is specifically labeled for use with dry or wet food.
Two Types of Automatic Pet Feeders
There are only two types of automatic pet feeders: electronic pet feeders and gravity pet feeders.
Electronic automatic pet feeders are the most common. All but one of the pet feeders we’ve reviewed above are electronic. They can either be powered by an AC outlet or batteries and must be programmed to dispense a specific amount of food at specific times.
The biggest advantage of electronic pet feeders is that they give you total control over your pet’s feeding. You can set precise portions and decide exactly when they are going to eat. This is highly beneficial for a pet’s overall health.
On the downside, electronic pet feeders require more work to set up and configure. If your smart feeder also connects to WiFi, there is even more work to be done. But this is only in the beginning. Afterward, electronic feeders are typically very easy to operate.
Gravity automatic pet feeders operate using a simpler mechanism. Food is stored in a large container or hopper above the bowl. As the pet eats the food, more food automatically falls into the bowl via gravity. When the food reaches a certain level, it stops falling until the pet eats some more.
The biggest advantage of gravity pet feeders is their utter simplicity. You don’t have to program them or connect them to WiFi. Add food to the hopper, and that’s it. No power supply is needed, so they work outside or anywhere you want to keep your pet.
The downside is that you have no control over your pet’s portions or meal times. They can eat as much as they want, whenever they want. Also, because food is constantly exposed, rodents and insects are more attracted to gravity-style feeders.
If you can afford it, an electronic pet feeder is the best choice for most pet owners.
How to Choose the Best Automatic Feeder For Your Pet
Consider the following factors when choosing an automatic pet feeder.
Is it for Cats, Dogs or Both?
Automatic feeders designed for cats tend to be smaller and come with a smaller bowl. Those for dogs are larger. So it’s important to check whether the feeder you are about to buy is for cats or dogs.
There are also automatic feeders that can be used with both cats and dogs. However, there could be a limit as to the size of dogs that can use it.
Number of Pets
Most automatic pet feeders will have a limit on the number of pets who can use a single pet feeder.
If you have just 1 or 2 pets, you can usually use buy one pet feeder. Get a 2-way splitter that dispenses food to two separate bowls for each pet. If you have 3 or more pets, you may have to get more than one pet feeder.
If you have a lot of pets or run a shelter, consider just buying cheap gravity feeders.
Check whether the feeder works with small pets such as cats or large pets like adult dogs. This is important because the size of the bowl and hopper vary to accommodate different pet sizes.
A feeder for a large pet will store more food and use a larger bowl. It may also have a sturdier design to prevent toppling or pushing the pet.
Some feeders are specified for cats and small to medium dogs only, while larger units can feed cats + all dogs.
Amount of Food
How much do your pets eat in a day?
If your pet eats a lot, you need a feeder that stores enough food and can dispense more portions through the day. For larger hungry pets, look for feeders that dispense 8-12 meals a day.
For pets that eat just a few portions per day, you can make do with a smaller feeder that only allows 4-6 meals.
Feeder capacity often ranges between 5 lbs and 10 lbs. The ideal capacity will depend on how much your pet (or pets) eat and how long you are away from.
Get a large capacity feeder if your pet eats a lot or you often take overnight trips when you might be away for 24-48 hours.
To find out how much food you need for 24 hours, just multiply the size of each portion your pet eats with the number of portions that he normally eats from morning to evening.
Double that number to get the total food capacity needed when you’ll be away for 24 hours.
Timers and Scheduling Options
Any electronic automatic pet feeder should at the very least allow you to set the number of meals for the day, specific times for the meals and precise portions of each meal.
It should also come with an ‘instant feed’ option that lets you dispense food immediately at any time with just the press of a button.
Connectivity and Apps
Whether you need a WiFi-connected feeder depends on your needs.
If you’d like to update the feeding schedule and monitor your pet’s feeding when at work, then buy a WiFi pet feeder.
Some pets are more likely to eat if they hear their owner’s voice, so getting an interactive voice feeder makes sense for them – especially if your pet has separation anxiety.
Likewise, some pet owners get anxious if they can’t see their pets during the day.
For these pets and their owners, it makes sense to spend a little more to buy a WiFi feeder with an integrated camera, mic and speaker.
Questions to Ask Before Buying
Ask these questions before buying an automatic pet feeder. It will help you buy the best one for your needs rather than spending tons of money on something that will give you endless headaches.
Is my pet likely to break into a pet feeder or become too aggressive with it?
If your pet is on the aggressive side, get a sturdily built pet feeder that can’t be easily moved or toppled over. Also, make sure it is designed in such a way that the pet cannot get into the food hopper.
If there is a manual feed button on the feeder, check whether it can be disabled. Pets are smart and will soon figure out what the button does.
Are there kids around who might play with the pet feeder?
If you have young kids around, make sure the pet feeder is stable and can’t be moved.
Also, check that kids cannot open it or press any of the buttons. A child lock feature will prevent kids and pets from accidentally changing settings or releasing the food.
Is my pet a voracious eater?
If your pet eats too fast and gets stomach upsets because of it, find a pet feeder with a slow feed feature. This feature releases food in tiny portions to force the pet to eat more slowly.
Does my pet eat dry or wet food or both?
If your pet eats wet food, get a feeder that accepts both dry and wet food.
Will I be using the feeder inside or outside?
If you are going to use it outside, make sure it has some ant protection. Also, check that it can run on batteries.
A battery-powered feeder is also handy if you plan to travel with your pet.
Things to Watch Out For Common Problems
Watch out for these common problems that other pet feeder customers have encountered.
Your pet will try to break into the pet feeder. This is especially common if the food hopper is transparent. Make sure the pet feeder cannot be accidentally opened and that your cat or dog cannot stick their paw into the feeding tube to pull out kibble.
Your pet may need time to get used to the new gizmo. Some pets will be scared by the noise food makes as it hits the bowl and will be afraid to use the pet feeder. It may take a few days before you can be sure your cat or dog will eat from the feeder when you are not home.
If your pet is still bothered by the noise even after several days, consider getting a noise-free feeder such as the Feed and Go smart pet feeder.
You should also consider buying a smart feeder with voice recording. The sound of your voice might help make the cat or dog more comfortable approaching and using the automatic feeder.
The pet feeder might jam if you use the wrong food. Even if you get a guaranteed jam-proof feeder, it can still jam if you don’t put in the right type of food. Check the manufacturer instructions for the kibble size you can put in and don’t add wet food in a dry food-only feeder.
Ants and other critters might get into the food bowl or hopper. This is especially common if you put the feeder outside. Look for a feeder with an insect-proof design. For instance, the Pet Feedster feeder has a bowl of water underneath the base to trap any ants that try to climb into the food hopper.
A smart feeder might be more difficult to configure. Getting it to connect to your WiFi might take a few tries. Contact customer support if it fails to connect even after several attempts.
Tips on Using and Maintaining Your Automatic Pet Feeder
Read the Instructions
As with any other machine or device, do not start using your pet feeder before you’ve read the user manual.
Electronic pet feeders need to be set up in a specific way to work properly. In some, for instance, you have to set the kibble size you are using to ensure the food falls out.
Do not assume anything. One pet feeder does not work like the next. So even if you are replacing an existing pet feeder, read the instructions before using the new one.
Take Your Time
Be patient in the beginning. Pet feeders can be a bit frustrating to configure the first time especially if it’s a WiFi model. Take time to set up the timer and schedule properly. If it’s a smart feeder, follow the exact instructions in the manual.
If you encounter any problems contact customer support for help. If that doesn’t help, check online videos of people using the same pet feeder or ask for help in customer forums.
Check the manual for instructions on how to disassemble and clean different components of the feeder. Make sure a certain part is dishwasher-proof before washing it the dishwasher. Be careful not to wash what shouldn’t as you may damage electronic components.
Remember that a dirty feeder can affect your pet’s health.
Only Use the Recommended Pet Food
Do not add wet food if the feeder is for dry food only. Also, make sure you are using the right kibble size. Feeders will usually specify the accepted kibble size range.
This prevents the feeder from jamming.
Beware of Making Any Modifications
If you want to add a splitter or modify any other component, call the seller first. Modifying the feeder may void the warranty.
Frequently Asked Questions About Automatic Pet Feeders
Do I need an automatic pet feeder?
Only you can decide that. But if you have a busy schedule, frequently travel out of town or find it a lot of fo work to feed your pet, it’s a good idea to get an automatic pet feeder.
What should I do if my pet refuses to use the feeder?
Give it some time. Some pets will be spooked by the sight of a new thing on the floor, or the noise might scare them. Give them a few days to get acquainted with the new device.
Place the feeder in their usual feeding spot. You can also try using the manual feeding button several times to get the pet used to the sound of food dropping into the bowl.
Another idea is to get a smart feeder with voice recording. Hearing your voice might help them get more comfortable with using the feeder.
What kind of food can I put in the feeder?
Check the manual for recommendations. Some feeders accept dry food only while others can be used with both dry and wet food.
Is my feeder not working?
Check the troubleshooting section of the manual. It might be a small problem that you can solve on your own. If that doesn’t help, call the manufacturer. If the feeder is still under warranty, they might repair or replace it for free.
I hope this buying guide has helped you find the best automatic feeder for your pet. If you need more help or tips choosing an automatic pet feeder, leave a comment below.