I’ve had a timed feeder for over 7 months now, and I can’t imagine going without one for my cats again. I love having a timed feeder so much, I’d buy a second in a heartbeat if something happened to the first. While the one I have in particular is quite expensive, I love it so much I would grab it for my mom were she feeding dry kibble to her cat instead of wet.
There have been a large number of issues in my household that just one really solid, reliable timed feeder has managed to solve. Most of these are behavioural issues that spring up when my cats are hungry, though the fixes go far beyond merely that.
I’ll interject here and say that I have the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed myself. If you’d like to check it out, I have a full review on this pet feeder up here. That being said, I’d like to discuss all the benefits having a timed feeder have led me to have over the span of these many months, and I’ll briefly go over my peculiar set up as well before I get into a breakdown of the timed feeder options that exist below.
In terms of behavioural issues, the timed feeder really decreased aggression in Avery, my first cat – who wasn’t happy when Bjorn, our second cat, came into his house. Avery would get especially upset and unable to control his negative emotions whenever he got too hungry before mealtimes. Avery’s always been a lap cat, and while his personality didn’t change when we adopted Bjorn, he was still very stressed and anxious for a long time around his new brother, considering he’d been an only-cat child for so long. Sharing food was never an issue, so long as Avery felt he had some for himself, so regular small snacks/meals at a timed feeder for the two of them was pretty well near all he needed to sort out his issues in this department.
Bjorn had a different set of behavioural problems, coming from life as a stray where he could chew on grass if he ever had the nibbles to indoor life where nothing was appropriate to snack on to relieve his hunger pangs. He’d chew on plastic, lick bar hand soap, and one time ate up tiny chunks of cork that made up a tray we were using to feed him on.
Bjorn had never chewed pieces off it before – for months – then one day it’s as though a crazy pang of hunger hit him, my guess is he was licking off the taste of his kibble, then he couldn’t help himself and began to tear off and devour little pieces of the actual board. We took it away, and he threw up pieces of cork for ages until it was all gone. It was a horrifying experience, and one that leads me to believe he might have ended up with pica if it wasn’t for the introduction of the timed feeder into both our cats’ lives.
Then there were much less serious behavioural issues – like just how lazy Avery is and how much he sleeps during the day. Cats sleep a lot and this on it’s own isn’t an issue at all. The problem in my home happened on days when Avery spent his entire morning snoozing, at which point he’d almost certainly wake me up at night meowing and crying because he was bored and wanted company and attention. I learned to interact with him as much as possible during the day, but if I ever wasn’t home, this issue still happened irregularly.
Besides that, there were health-related issues. Bjorn had sensitive stomach problems, and would throw up bile if his stomach stayed empty for too long. Not a serious, life-threatening issue, but at the same time not one I’d ever be happy to let continue to happen. Avery used to have issues with throwing up on an empty stomach as well, so I wanted to feed both my boys regularly so I could deal with problem head on.
The timed feeder has done it’s job perfectly – fixing every single one of the issues I’ve mentioned as well as making life one heck of a lot easier for anyone who cat sits for us whenever we travel. Having paired my cat feeder with a the Catit Design Senses Food Maze in this weird way –
– the timer also helps bring my cats mental stimulation at intervals throughout the day. Not all the food will fall through the food toy, some will land on the floor scattered for them to eat at the start, but all in all, they have a little bit of a challenge getting roughly two thirds of the pieces out at each feeding.
I use an IKEA BEKVAM wooden stool to prop up the automatic feeder, and attach the puzzle feeder toy to the wooden stool with sicker adhesive Velcro stuck back to back onto itself. This worked out to be the perfect fix for me, as it keeps the food tree tight to the stool, and is easy to remove and place back when I clean the toy.
I personally have my timed feeder goes off roughly every four hours. The feeder sends out 1/8th of a cup at: 7 AM, 11 AM, 3 PM, 7 PM, 9 PM, & 3 AM. I also feed my cats kibble mixed with water (once at 8 AM, once at 10 PM), to prevent UTIs, and so I can pick each furry up once a day and make sure no one cat is out-eating the other. If one is (Bjorn usually gets more of the grub), I underfeed the one and overfeed the other to make sure each cat stays their optimal weight.
Would I recommend timed feeders for other pet owners? Absolutely without hesitation. I definitely think there are advantages to a timed feeder you just can’t manage to have if you’re feeding cats by hand, even if you happen to work from home like me. Cats really enjoy routine, and unless you’re hyper vigilant and punctual, a timed feeder’s going to beat you on this front. They make life easier for humans by reducing or even eliminating the amount of work needed to keep cats who need or are better off with more regular feedings, and they prevent anxiety in cats (based on what I’ve read and experienced) that revolve around food times.
My cats didn’t typically cry and beg for food prior because I gave them so many snacks throughout the day myself, but if I didn’t and they regularly got hungry, I’m sure they would have had this behavioural issue as well. I’d stress out when I had to be somewhere for more than 8 hours prior to this because I knew both cats were better off and happier when they got fed regularly, but both being the types of cats who scarf down all the food in front of them, I knew I couldn’t just leave out food.
Now – no worries whatsoever. I’m sure there are other benefits I’ve forgotten to mention here, but I hope I’ve managed to make my point in terms of quality of life improvements for all of us.
When it comes to timed feeders, there are so many different types at so many different budgets, you’re almost certain these days to find one that’ll work out ideally for your household. I’m not going to bother pretending there’s a one-size-fits-all type of product in this category. I think there are a lot of really great options and it depends on what you need, for instance if you’re feeding wet or dry or if you’re keeping multiple cats fed versus one.
I’m going to list a variety of different options then describe where I think they excel and where I think an alternative would probably do a lot better. If you’ve ever tried one of these or considered it, let me know what types of things you looked for in a timed feeder, and which types of options you felt suit your needs best. I’d really love to know what others think about this and if you’ve ever had one – if you found it actually helped you fix what you hoped it would.
Timed Feeders for Cats:
If you have only one cat, feed kibble, don’t have a cat who scarfs down food at the speed of light, and are looking for a way to spread out meals so your cat’s never too hungry, this is the best timed food dispenser I can imagine. It’s basically a 5 section food bowl that reveals one section at a time throughout the day. Very straightforward!
In terms of benefits – it’s ridiculously affordable, super easy to portion out manually, and make changes to the rations or what you’re feeding your cat each day if you’d like. You can add in medication so your cat eats that amongst the kibble, and the bowl looks incredibly easy to clean on top of being dishwasher safe.
Would I use it for multiple cats? Probably not, because at that point cats stealing each others’ food would likely be an issue, and it would also be a lot more expensive buying many of these than one of a different feeder than can be used to delve out kibble to multiple cats. Like the following…
As I mentioned in the intro, this is the pet feeder I have, and pair with a cat food toy to make meal times even longer and more engaging. You can see my full review of it here, but the things I like about it that I haven’t mentioned in this article thus far include the fact that it’s a conveyor automatic feeder, meaning my cats aren’t able to stick their paws up and get more kibble out of it (and believe me, Bjorn has tried on many occasions!).
It’s durable, has withstood quite a lot of biting. It’s easy to place on something moderately high to use in conjunction with slow feed cat bowls or a cat food toy if that’s something you’d be interested in. It’s portion sizes can be relatively small (1/8th of a cup), and can feed up to 12 meals a day (this number being high is important for me, as I use it to feed my cats 6 times a day at the moment). It holds quite a lot of kibble, and it’s dog-proof if you have canines in the home, as well as raccoon-proof and viable outdoors if you’d like to use a feeder outside. It’s hard for me to imagine a more perfect cat feeder, and while it’s expensive, if you have a lot of cats, it’s pretty darn reasonable considering it can easily feed all of them.
It works on either battery or plugged into an electrical outlet. I only use batteries considering I worry Bjorn might try to chew the cord if it ever gets “flavoured” with cat food. In the past 7 months, I’ve not yet had to replace it’s batteries once, which is excellent, I think.
Don’t quite know how you’d feed multiple cats with it? Don’t attach the bowl, and instead have the food drop onto a tray like this so that the food is scattered and the cats can share what’s on the platter easily.
This pet feeder holds up to 11.5 outnces of wet food in each of its five food compartments. It’s got twin ice packs to keep food fresh and is battery operated, which means no cords for those who have cats who like to chew on them. It’s supposedly quite easy to clean, dishwasher friendly, and is reasonably priced if you ask me. It’s probably the single best timed cat feeder for wet food on the market, based on what I’ve seen.
If you don’t need something so heavy-duty or with as many feeding options, the Cat Mate C20, which I’ll discuss later in this list, is a great alternate option.
This timed pet feeder is also incredibly popular and has some pretty interesting features. You can record your voice so that your recording can be used to call your pet(s) when it’s time to eat. It has an infa-red detector that makes sure the kibble doesn’t overflow and clog up the machine.
Less interesting, but still quite important features include the fact that it has a dishwasher safe feeding tray. It looks to be quite difficult for pets, even sneaky cats who typically get into things, from being able to get food out. It also seems to be quite reliable, and you can set up to four meal times a day.
This timed pet feeder allows up to four daily distributions, and dispenses between 1-10 portions per meal. As with some other pet feeders, it gives you the option of recording a personalized meal call that lasts up to 10 seconds. It runs on either battery or power cable (I personally recommend batteries since they usually last a long time and there’s no chance pets will chew cables in this case).
Yet another incredibly viable option, with up to four meals and an infa-red sensor that makes sure the bowl isn’t over-filled. It’s got quite a lot of positive reviews, and if you can get this one at a good price, I daresay it’s excellent value, like so many of these timed food dispensers are.
If you feed wet food rather than dry, the Cat Mate Bowl Pet Feeder with Ice Pack is one of the few options that offers something viable in terms of timed feeders for you. It keeps wet food cold, helping to minimize bacterial growth and food going bad, and while it’s not completely cat proof, a lot of pet parents seem to like it for helping delay access to wet food to cats.
Need to feed more than up to two meals a day? The Cat Mate C500 (which I’ve discussed earlier in this list), should be a better fit for you instead.
8. PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder, Wi-Fi Enabled Pet Feeder, Smartphone App for iPhone and Android
Like the idea of being able to activate a feeding from your smartphone whenever you want? You can do so with the PetSafe Smart Feed Wi-Fi Enabled Pet Feeder. It’s a similar concept to the other Smart Feed, but this time with a compatible app that allows you to control it using an iPhone or Android cell phone.
An option I’ve had pet parents who visit this blog tell me about how much they love before. This pet feeder has a mechanism inside that rotates to dispense food. You can choose from two meal sizes, large or small, depending on if you have a cat or a dog, and it has automatic detection to avoid giving excess food during the day if your pet hasn’t eaten what’s already been given.
Your Thoughts on Timed Cat Feeders?
Have you ever thought of buying a timed cat food machine before? If you have, what types of things were you trying to fix by grabbing one?
If you’ve ever had a timed feeder before, which one did you have and what did you think of it? Is there anything you’d advise other pet parents to stay away from or to go for based on your experience? Do you have other advice related to timed feeders you’d be happy to share?
Please leave your thoughts, stories, & experiences in the comments down below! Other pet parents who are in a similar situation as you were or are could benefit from your advice!