Automatic cat feeders are a great convenience for cat owners. Vets recommend that cats eat a few small meals throughout the day and automatic cat feeders are an easy way to do that without being forced to stay at home all day. They also ensure that morning and evening meals are always on time, whether you are at home or not.
There are a lot of potential issues that can arise from using an automatic feeder (particularly the wrong feeder) as well:
- If the feeder isn’t locked or you have a particularly “food-motivated” cat (or if you also have a dog at home) who isn’t afraid to attack the feeder the animals may end up gorging themselves on multiple meals’ worth of food rather than getting it portioned out as you planned.
- Issues with automatic food timers or power sources (cords or batteries) could mean that your cat misses a meal you thought was “automatic”
- If a feeder’s ability to portion food is out of whack, you may wind up over or under-feeding your cat (without even knowing!)
To help you navigate all of this, we asked our expert vet advisor Dr. Jamie Whittenburg to review each and every automatic cat feeder on the market and bring you her findings.
Dr. Whittenburg’s top pick is the Whisker Feeder-Robot.
Meet our overall top pick for the best automatic cat feeder, the Whisker Feeder-Robot.
This automatic cat feeder can dispense up to eight meals or snacks a day and has a total capacity of 32 cups. It can even be connected to a smartphone app to help you monitor your cat’s eating habits, allow you to give your cat a snack remotely, and notify you if the food storage starts to get low.
While this is Dr. Whittenburg’s top pick, she’s also got you covered with a buying guide with tips for what to look for when selecting an automatic cat feeder, a section on who should avoid automatic cat feeders, and her personal selections for the top automatic cat feeder for a variety of use-cases.
The 5 Best Automatic Cat Feeders
- Best Overall – Whisker Feeder-Robot
- Best Budget – PetSafe Analog 2 Meal Programmable Pet Feeder
- Best for Wet Food – Cat Mate C300
- Best for Multiple Cats – Petlibro Automatic Dual Food Tray
- Best Microchip Activated – Sure Petcare Microchip Pet Feeder
Automatic Cat Feeders Compared
Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
|Vet’s Picks||Brand||Rating||Good for Multiples||Capacity||Wet or Dry Food|
|Best Overall||Whisker Feeder-Robot||32 cups||Dry only|
|Best Budget Buy||PetSafe Analog 2 Meal Programmable Pet Feeder||3 cups||Wet or dry|
|Best for Wet Food||Cat Mate C300||67.5 ounces||Wet or dry|
|Best for Multiple Cats||Petlibro Granary Dual Food Tray||5L||Dry only|
|Best Microchip Activated||Sure Petcare Microchip Pet Feeder||400ml||Wet or dry|
*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers.
In This Article
Who Should Buy an Automatic Cat Feeder
- Owners who work outside of the home – While most dogs do okay with just a morning and evening meal, cats are generally healthiest when given a few smaller meals throughout the day. Unfortunately, if you work outside the home, you’re not around to be able to give them those meals during the day. An automatic feeder is a great solution to that problem!
- Pet parents who want an alternative to boarding – If you’d prefer to leave your cat at home while you travel, an automatic pet feeder can make sure your cat still gets meals at their regular times. However, you should still make sure that someone comes to check on your cat at least once a day to make sure that the feeder hasn’t malfunctioned and to meet your cat’s other needs.
- Owners who want to sleep in – Many of us are up earlier on workdays and feed our cats before we head out for work. That can be a problem on weekends when your cat expects their morning meal at a certain time but you’d like to sleep in. To keep you both happy, you can set an automatic cat feeder to give your cat their breakfast at their normal time while you snooze a little longer.
Who Should Not Buy an Automatic Cat Feeder
- Owners who want to be able to leave their cats home alone for multiple days – Having an automatic cat feeder doesn’t mean that you can simply leave your cat unattended while you travel. While most automatic pet feeders have features to help avoid malfunctions, they do still occur. If your cat isn’t eating due to a health issue, an automatic pet feeder can’t tell you that. Besides, your cat has needs other than food, like socialization, play, and a clean litterbox. An automatic pet feeder is a handy way to make sure your pet gets their meals at appropriate times while you’re gone, but you should still have someone come check on your cat each day to make sure that they’re eating and that their other needs are met.
- Pet parents who don’t want to have to monitor their cat’s meals – While automatic pet feeders are a great way to ensure that your cat gets their meals at the same time every day, they shouldn’t be an excuse to not pay attention to your cat’s meals. A decreased appetite is a common sign of illness in cats, but if you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to not notice. You should still check your cat’s bowl after meal times to make sure they’re eating. If an automatic pet feeder will encourage you to monitor your cat’s appetite less closely, perhaps manual feeding is a better route for you.
Buying Guide: Research Tips From a Veterinarian
When choosing an automatic cat feeder, there are several things to keep in mind. Be sure to ask your veterinarian, friends, and family for recommendations when looking for an automatic cat feeder, but also make sure to do thorough research and consider these things so you can be sure to make the right choice for you:
- Consider how many cats you’re feeding – Most automatic cat feeders are designed to feed a single cat. If you have multiple cats it can make it hard to monitor how much each cat is eating and that no cat is taking more than their share. Fortunately, some automatic cat feeders are designed to feed multiple cats. Others are designed to feed a single cat but have features that prevent other animals from accessing the food. The former style is good if all of your cats eat the same type of food, while the latter is better if you have different pets on different diets.
- Ensure that the feeder is reliable – In the case of automatic cat feeders, reliability means two things. First, it means that the feeder is unlikely to malfunction, giving your cat the wrong amount of food or even no food at all. Second, it means that your cat (or another pet) can’t break into the closed food storage to snack at their leisure.
- Make sure the feeder is compatible with your type of food – Most automatic cat feeders are designed to only serve dry cat food. If you give your cat wet food, you’ll need a cat feeder designed for that type of food.
- Make sure the feeder will hold enough food – If you aren’t able to fill your automatic cat feeder every day, make sure it holds enough food to last several days.
How Much Do They Cost?
Automatic cat feeders are available at a huge range of price points, anywhere from $20 to $300. The lower-cost versions usually have a limited capacity and can only store a couple of meals. These are great if you just want to be able to fill the automatic feeder in the morning so it can provide meals during the day while you’re at work. However, if you want a more hands-off approach where you can fill the automatic feeder and have it last for a while, a suitable one will typically cost you at least $80. With even higher-end options you can get extra, high-tech features. These can include things like the ability to monitor capacity or provide extra feedings via a smartphone app or the ability to provide meals based on which pet approaches the bowl using either your cat’s microchip or an RFID tag.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily
As a veterinarian, I frequently talk to other veterinarians, animal nutritionists, and pet owners about how to give pets, including cats, the best possible diet. In those discussions, automatic cat feeders and how they can be a valuable tool often come up. The recommendations I make here are based on those conversations as well as the features and reviews of the products themselves. I considered reliability, capacity, and more to choose the top automatic cat feeders currently on the market. – Dr. Jamie Whittenburg
The Best Automatic Cat Feeder Reviews
1. Best Overall – Whisker Feeder-Robot
Meet our overall top pick for the best automatic cat feeder, the Whisker Feeder-Robot.
Our vet’s overall top pick for the best automatic cat feeder is the Whisker Feeder-Robot. Full disclosure: this automatic cat feeder isn’t exactly cheap. But in some cases, you get what you pay for, and the Feeder-Robot is an incredibly high-quality automatic cat feeder. The feeder is only equipped to dispense dry food, but it can provide up to eight meals or snacks a day.
But what really sets the Whisker Feeder-Robot apart is that it can connect to your smartphone via an app, available for both Android and iOS. The feeder can be controlled on the unit itself or through the app. The app can also be used to monitor your pet’s meals and get insights into your pet’s feeding habits. It will even let you know when the Feeder-Robot is close to empty. And if you have multiple Feeder-Robots or a Whisker’s Litter-Robot, you can also access them from the same app.
- High capacity
- Smartphone app
- Allows up to eight meals a day
- Monitors your cat’s feeding habits
- Large footprint
2. Best Budget – PetSafe Analog 2 Meal Programmable Pet Feeder
For those looking for a more affordable automatic cat feeder, the PetSafe Analog 2 Meal Programmable Pet Feeder is a great solution. It only fits two meals at a time, so it’s not intended for feeding your cat regularly over long periods. However, if you just want something that will give your cat meals while you’re at work or serve your cat breakfast while you sleep in, this automatic cat feeder is perfect.
This PetSafe automatic cat feeder can be used for dry or wet food and uses a single AA battery. To set the automatic feeder, simply use the dial timers with half-hour increments up to 24 hours in advance. Once the timer has finished running, the top of the feeder will swing open, exposing your cat’s snack or meal. The lids are tamper-resistant, preventing kitty from getting to their food early and the BPA-free bowls inside are dishwasher safe.
- Very affordable
- Allows for wet or dry food
- Tamper-resistant lid
- Dishwasher-safe bowls
- Only holds two meals
- Has to be set up every 24 hours
3. Best for Wet Food – Cat Mate C300
If you primarily feed your cat wet food, it can be tough to find a good automatic cat feeder that works for you. Fortunately, the Cat Mate C300 does precisely that. It comes in two sizes, one that holds three meals and one that holds five. The first meal is immediately accessible to your pet, so it’s best to set it up at a time when your cat already gets meals. All other meals are dispensed with a timer.
What sets the Cat Mate C300 apart from other wet food compatible automatic feeders is that it comes a specialized ice pack. These keep wet cat food cool, so it doesn’t dry out before feeding time. If you’ve fed your cat wet food before, you know how gross and unappealing (not to mention smelly) wet food can get if left out. The icepack avoids all that. However, it only comes with a single ice pack, so if you want to use the feeder every day, it’s a good idea to buy a spare so you rotate the ice packs. The Cat Mate C300 also requires three AA batteries.
- Works for dry or wet food
- Keeps wet food cool and moist
- Available in two sizes
- Only comes with one ice pack
- First meal is available immediately, so must be given at mealtime
4. Best for Multiple Cats – Petlibro Automatic Dual Food Tray
Most automatic cat feeders only dispense food into a single bowl and have low limits on how much food can be dispensed at a time, making them less than ideal for homes with multiple cats. The Petlibro Automatic Dual Food Tray, however, dispenses foods into two bowls at once and can dispense in larger volumes. There’s even a movable splitter that allows different amounts to be dispensed into each bowl. It has a total capacity of 5 liters and can provide up to 10 meals.
This automatic cat food dispenser comes in two colors, black and white, to suit different decors and can be run with either the 5V plug charger or batteries. A window in the front of the food storage allows you to visually monitor how much food is left, while the LED screen shows you the feeding schedule and battery levels. The Petlibro Granary Dual Food Tray even allows you to record a 10-second call to play at mealtimes so your cats know it’s time to eat.
- Dispenses food into two bowls
- Allows food to be dispensed unevenly between bowls
- Large capacity
- Records calls to play at mealtimes
- Only allows for up to two cats
- Nothing to stop cats from eating out of the other bowl
5. Best Microchip Activated – Sure Petcare Microchip Pet Feeder
Finally, the Sure Petcare Microchip Pet Feeder can help you separate your pets and offer them individualized meals when you are not home. When the pet with the pre-programmed microchip accesses the bowl, the lid will allow them to eat. The lid will stay closed if the incorrect pet tries to access it. No microchip? No problem! The bowl also comes with an RFID tag you can attach to your cat’s collar to activate the bowl instead. Additional RFID tags can be purchased separately.
This bowl is a great alternative to the Petlibro Granary Dual Food Tray if your cats are on separate diets or if you have cats or other animals that try to steal each other’s food. For pets with separate diets, you’ll need multiple bowls. However, if multiple pets can eat out of the same bowl, you can program the bowl to allow each of those pets access. The Sure Petcare Microchip Pet Feeder comes with a gray mat, a gray single bowl, and a gray split bowl. You can also buy mats and bowls in pink, blue, or green, which is very helpful for keeping multiple bowls straight for pets with different diets.
- Works with both wet and dry food
- Ensures that only the correct pets get access to food
- Works with microchip and RFID tags
- Up to 32 animals can share a single bowl
- Doesn’t allow scheduling of future meals
- Requires separate bowls for separate diets
Frequently Asked Questions
In addition, automatic feeders make it more difficult to monitor how much your cat is actually eating at meal time. A reduced appetite can be one of the first signs of a health problem, but if you aren’t checking if there is food left over in the bowl, you may not notice it quickly. Be sure to still take the time to monitor how much food is leftover after meals so you know if they’re eating or not. At the same time, check to make sure that the meal was actually dispensed so you know that your cat has actually eaten.
Besides, your cats have needs other than food. Their litter box needs to be scooped, and perhaps most importantly, they need human companionship. While many cats may not be as obviously social as most dogs, they do still want human attention. Ideally, that would be yours, but if you do have to be gone for longer, having someone to come to your home each day to pet them, play with them, and otherwise give them attention is a good idea.
However, you should always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Sometimes bits that appear dishwasher safe are not, especially if they’re made from plastic.