Best Automatic Cat Feeders

Updated April 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

10 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
109 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best automatic cat feeders

Last Updated April 2019

For the 36 million households with a cat in the U.S., it can be a challenge to manage pet mealtimes with a full work or school schedule. While cats are generally regarded as more self-sufficient than dogs, house cats still can’t feed themselves.

For pet parents who are constantly on the go, leaving a cat at home for an extended period can provoke worry. An automatic cat feeder can help reduce the anxiety of leaving your kitty home alone.

It’s reassuring to know your cat will be fed even if something comes up for you and you won’t be home right away! What’s more, owning an automatic feeder takes one more daily chore off your plate, and it ensures your feline friend will get her chow.

Some cats meow and create a stir in the middle of the night because they want to be fed. An automatic feeder that dispenses food during the wee hours can help owners get more peaceful sleep.

Types of automatic cat feeders

From programmable cat feeders that connect to WiFi to fully analog gravity feeder models, the range of automatic cat feeder options is vast. On the basic side, you’ll find gravity feeders that utilize a large container for dry food that replenishes the bowl as your cat eats. On the sophisticated end, you’ll find battery-powered automatic feeders that can be programmed to dispense food at certain times.

Automatic cat feeder varieties

There are automatic feeders that can store wet food, and there are feeders that are triggered by your cat’s microchip. Some Wifi-connected models allow you to monitor and feed your cat through a mobile app; these feeders may even have a slow-feed mode to prevent your cat from scarfing his food too fast. With some automatic cat feeders, you can record a message to tell your cat when it’s time to eat.

Because there are so many different options among automatic feeders, consider your cat’s individual feeding needs. Based on some of the features, some products may be more suitable than others.

DID YOU KNOW?

Wifi-connected automatic cat feeders may have video so you can check in on your cat during the day.

Assessing your cat’s nutritional needs

Does your cat eat a combination of wet and dry food? Is she on a prescription diet? Does she prefer to eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of a standard breakfast and dinner? Based on your answers, here’s a look at some options.

For cats on a wet food diet

If you’re looking for an automatic feeder that can dispense wet food, there are some products with multiple compartments and a securely locking lid to prevent your cat from prying off the top and eating the rest of the food before it’s time.

For cats on a restricted diet

If you trying to limit your cat’s food intake, a gravity feeder that free feds is probably not the best choice. Instead, consider an automatic feeder that can be scheduled to put out specific portion sizes.

For cats who eat too fast

Cats who eat too quickly may be prone to bloating or vomiting after eating. A feeder that delivers precise portions — or one that can be programmed to dispense small amounts of food at certain intervals — may be a good choice.

A battery-powered cat feeder needs to be checked regularly to make sure it’s on schedule. Although it isn’t common, some battery-powered feeders can fail over time — and some will need to be reprogrammed after a power outage.

Staff
BestReviews

Automatic cat feeder prices

A basic gravity cat feeder may be purchased for as little as $12, while a cat feeder with all the bells and whistles could cost several hundred dollars. In between these two extremes are feeders in the mid-range with special features, such as programmable meal times, portion size control, magnetic lids, and cooling packs that help maintain food freshness.

Questions to answer before choosing an automatic cat feeder

Are you still wondering what type of automatic cat feeder would be right for you? Your answers to the following questions may help narrow down your search.

Are you looking for a daily feeder, or do you just want a backup feeder for times when you’re away on vacation?

You might want a feeder to dispense daily meals at the right time, or you might want something that would allow you to comfortably leave your cat for a couple of days at a time. Certain feeders may be better equipped for one of these options than the other.

For example, a covered tray feeder only has a certain number of compartments, and one compartment is always visible. If you’re looking to deliver more than four meals to your cat before coming home, this type of feeder may not be the best choice. An automatic feeder with a hopper can usually hold a larger quantity of food.

Are there other pets in the home?

If you live in a multi-pet household and are purchasing a feeder for a particular cat, such as one that requires a prescription diet, it’s important to ensure the right pet is getting fed at the right time. Some feeders are triggered by an implanted microchip, so the feeder only releases kibble when the right pet is in the vicinity. This is effective for homes with multiple cats when one cat is on a special diet or needs to eat more than twice a day.

For multi-cat homes with cats that are all on the same diet, a gravity feeder may be a better choice. It ensures that all kitties will be well-fed — just as long as the hopper is large enough to hold food for all of your cats.

How curious is your cat?

Cats are curious by nature, and more enterprising cats may try to pry open lids on automatic feeders or stick their paws into the hole where the food is dispensed. Thankfully, many feeders are designed to prevent this with a plastic hood that prevents cats from interfering with the mechanism and/or a magnetic lid that keeps the lid on the hopper.

How much maintenance are you comfortable doing?

Some automatic cat feeders need to be refilled every day. In the eyes of some owners, this takes the convenience out of using an automatic feeder. And depending on the assembly of the feeder, some products are easier to clean than others. Before you buy, decide how often you’re willing to refill the feeder and how much time you want to invest in cleaning it.

EXPERT TIP

A budget gravity feeder can be a great choice for the same reason it is inexpensive: it has no electronics or timers that can wear out or fail.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Select a feeder that will work with the size of kibble pellet your cat eats. Many feeder manufacturers offer details on how food is dispensed. This knowledge can help ensure that the mechanism doesn’t jam — especially if your cat eats food with kibbles of different sizes.

  • Check to see if the feeder keeps your settings when the machine is temporarily switched off. Some automatic feeders lose their settings and require reprogramming after you turn them off, change batteries, or experience a power outage.

  • Test the feeder before relying on it completely. If you’re purchasing a feeder to ensure your cat is fed for a few days while you’re out of town, test it first to make sure it works as expected.

  • Check the warranty. Just in case the feeder fails, be sure to know whether you can send it in for repair or replacement.

Other products we considered

There are hundreds of automatic cat feeders on the market today. Many have special features that make meeting your cat’s particular nutritional needs easier. In addition to the cat feeders on our shortlist, we love the Surefeed Microchip Pet Feeder, which unlocks via microchip to ensure the right pet is fed. This feeder only holds one meal, though.

The WoPet feeder is another good choice. It dishes out four meals per day and is connected to wall power, but conveniently, it can run on batteries in the event of a power outage.

Some Wifi-connected feeders may have a chance of not being completely reliable, so you may want to plan for a backup feeding system, such as a gravity feeder, if you’re going on a short trip.

FAQ

Q. How do I get my cat used to a new feeder?

A. Some electronic feeders offer the ability to record a short message, so if you normally call for your cat when it’s time to eat, this can help your cat adjust, even when you’re not at home.

Q. What if a greedy cat pushes other cat(s) to the side?

A. You may want to consider a feeder that recognizes separate pets by their tags. If one cat pushes the other out of the way, the feeder is programmed to deduct the food from his allowance.

Q. How often should I clean the feeder?

A. The bowls in an automatic cat feeder should be cleaned about as often as a regular food bowl, particularly if you are using the feeder for wet food. You should take the feeder apart to clean the other components every few months to keep everything in working order.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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