- Electronic Feeder: A Short Description
- Who Needs An Electronic Feeder
- What To Consider Before Buying An Electronic Feeder
- One Or Multiple Food Compartments
- The Best Electronic Feeders On The Market
1. Electronic Feeder: A Short Description
As you landed on my page you are probably looking for the perfect electronic pet feeder. For those who do not know what kind of device this is, I will write a short introduction.
‘Automatic pet feeder’, ‘timed cat- or dog food dispenser’ or simply ‘electronic feeder’: There are many different names, but basically they all refer to a pet feeding station that contains multiple meals for your furry friend. Due to its electronic timing function, you can decide at which time a meal should be made accessible for your cat and/or dog. Like this, you have full control about the timing and amount of food provided without the need of you being physically involved every time.
2. Who Needs An Electronic Feeder?
Before you continue reading, I recommend to check whether this is a product you and your pet can benefit from. If you are one of the lucky few to be there for your companions 24 hours each day, you can probably go without an electronic feeder. But there are several occasions in which these timed food stations are a huge advantage. I will list them below:
- You work full-time and live in a single household
- You and all of your family members/ flatmates work during the same hours
- Your pet needs properly timed food or medication
- Your pet is prone to gulping, vomiting and bloat
- Your pet is overweight
- You want or have to go on weekend trips without your hairy companion
- You want to save time over the day and benefit from
- Your pets wake you up because they want to be fed
I find myself in several of these points. At first, me and my husband both work 9 to 5 jobs. We used to feed our cats one portion in the morning and one in the evening. Whilst that worked out fine for our tomcat Apollo, our other cat Minnie did not adjust good to this feeding routine. She started vomiting as a consequence of too big portions, leading to more and more weight loss. We tried ‘free feeding’, which means we simply put a bowl filled with dry food into the kitchen. We were hoping that she would eat whenever she choose to. You can probably guess what happened: When we came home after work, we were greeted by a loudly meowing Minnie and a perfectly satisfied Apollo. It didn’t took us long to figure out what was going on. As our tomcat is way more dominant than our shy little girl, he preferred eating it all alone.
There had to be another solution to our problem!
Back then, I started looking for information on the internet. I quickly found out that there is a whole market dedicated to this feeding problem. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have been overwhelmed by the flood of information on the topic of electronic feeders. A further thing that complicated the research process was that many seemingly informative websites where actually just advertisements. As a consequence, it took me a while to organize the different features and opinions on the wide variety of products. But I am glad to tell you that after countless days of research I was finally able to choose the perfect pet food dispenser for my situation!
As I couldn’t find a proper guide to the right feeder, I decided to write one myself. This guide contains all the information I wish I had when I started my research. My goals are to not overwhelm you with too much information and keep it as detailed as possible to let you figure out which device you benefit the most from.
3. What To Consider Before Buying An Electronic Feeder
Ok, you’re in the market for an electronic feeder. But before you go out and buy one there are a few questions to ask yourself.
First and foremost the feeder should be able to dispense the food you choose for your pet. Therefore, the first question you should ask yourself is ‘what kind of food do you want to feed your pet’? There are feeders that work with dry food only in round shapes, other feeders allow you to use dry and semi-wet food and again others allow all kinds of food and handle every shape of food without a problem.
Don’t worry, there is a fitting feeder for the type of food your pet desires!
Now that we broached the food issue, we move to the second most important point. If your pet relies on medicine that has to be administered at a specific time every day, the feeder should be suited for this task.
Whether the device is able to dispense the medicine reliably or not depends on its construction type. We differentiate between two main mechanisms:
- The first type is the ‘single compartment’ station where you fill the compatible food into one compartment. Once you chose the number and size of the meals, the machine dispenses the portions to your pet like you programmed it.
- The other type of electronic feeders use ‘multiple compartment’ design. This mechanism works as follows: You prepare each meal your pet will receive in advance and set the time when the feeder makes it available for your furry friend.
Both of the types come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
The medicine issue can only be solved by the multiple compartment design. Otherwise, the right administration of medication cannot be guaranteed. Even if your pet is healthy now, that is something worth considering for the future.
4. One Or Multiple Food Compartments?
This question is easily answered with a quick test. If you answer any of the following questions with ‘yes’, the multiple food compartment type fits your needs better than the single compartment type.
- Do you want to feed only one pet with one feeder?
- Does at least one of your pet needs medication?
- Do you want to feed wet food
- Do you plan to feed oddly shaped food?
- Do you want to feed your pet(s) different kinds of food throughout the day?
If you answered all questions above with ‘no’, you still got both options.
Reasons for getting a single compartment feeder are as follows:
- There are less parts to be cleaned
- Preparation for use is fast and easy (You just fill the food reservoir once in a while)
- One electronic feeder works for multiple pets
5. The Best Electronic Feeders On The Market
There are hundreds if not thousands of automatic pet feeders to choose from.
One is really spoilt for choice! After reading through countless forums and product reviews, the list narrowed down to just 3 pet feeders I feel confident buying and recommending.
- PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Electronic Pet Feeder
- PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder
- Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder with Webcam & WiFi
All of these 3 products are best in class and should make life easier for you and your pet. Although all of them will feed your pet reliably, there are big differences in the products. And one of those electronic feeders will offer a better deal for you than the others. This guide helps you decide which one is right for you.
Let’s have a deeper look!
The PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Electronic Pet Feeder is a multiple compartment feeder. It consists of BPA-free, sanitary rugged polypropylene, which is a fancy word for plastic. It has a capacity of five meals, from which only four can be timed (the other compartment is immediately accessible). The maximum portion size is 230 grams. Although the official PetSafe site states that this feeder is only suitable for “dryfood and snacks”, me and many other costumers used the feeder with wet food and never experienced any issues. The electronic feeder is battery powered only – you need 4x D batteries which are not included. The device comes without any accessories.
When I first ordered this product, I was surprised by the good quality you get for your money. Although the device is rather lightweight, the plastic is very sturdy. Our station works now -almost 4 years later- still perfectly fine without ever needing to contact the costumer service. However, if you should encounter any issues with the device, you can rely on outstanding costumer service by PetSafe.
Setting up your pets’ food schedule is really easy. The device is controlled with 6 buttons and the help of an LCD display. Back then my device came without a user-manual and I had to figure it out on my own. Luckily you can find the digital user manual here. The cleaning and maintenance of this product is also hassle free. The tray itself is dishwasher safe and can easily be detached from the motor.
When you first use this electronic feeder, you will recognize the whirring sound it makes when the motor rotates the dish to make the next meal accessible. This might be frightening for some pets in the beginning. I would therefore recommend to accompany your pet the first few times until it gets used to the new feeding routine. Once the pet is familiar with the feeder, the sound can serve as a feeding call.
All of this worked great with our tomcat Apollo and I never regretted buying this feeder. Nevertheless, some customers report that very determined pets made their meals accessible through turning the tray with force. Luckily, that only happened to a small number of buyers. But if you are interested in purchasing this feeding station for a highly curious animal which needs medication, that is an important thing to consider.
The only negative point I can tell about this pet feeder is that the device is battery powered only. Although the batteries lasted quite long (about 9 months) I always worried that Apollo might not get his food when I relied on the feeder for more than a day.
I highly recommend this feeder. If you want to serve several cats, you should consider buying one feeder for each pet.
If you think this might be the perfect product for you, take a look at the amazon listing (it is highly discounted compared to the official PetSafe shop).
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed is hands down the best single compartment feeder on the market. On top of the the 2,95kg heavy feeder (which is highly unlikely to get toppled over by a cat or even a medium sized dog) you get a stainless steel bowl (especially suitable for pets that react allergic to plastic) with a bowl holder and the user manual. The machine can be powered with 4x D batteries or a power adaptor. Unfortunately, neither of these are included. The food reservoir is made of sturdy BPA free plastic and holds 5.678 ml of dry and semi-wet food. After first powering it up setting up the food schedule is not very intuitive and you probably want to take a look at the manual. Once you mastered this task you are rewarded with a highly customizable food schedule and unique benefits. From now you can count on this outstanding reliable device (especially when you use it with the power adaptor).
You can customize the number, time and size of meals with the option of up to 12 meals a day and a single meal size ranging between 30 and 946 ml. Additionally, there is my personal favorite which is called ‘slow feed mode’. When you activate this mode the device dispenses every single of the scheduled meals over the time of 15 minutes (minimum 28,75 ml increments)
This comes in super handy if your pet is prone to gulping, vomiting and bloating.
In contrast to most electronic feeders this one has the option to feed your pet immediately with the push of a button.
Due to the design of the electronic feeder you will notice the sound of the food falls onto the steel bowl. Although this should not be a deal breaker for many, it is something to consider if your pet is very easily frightened. I would therefore recommend to use the dispenser a few times when you are with your pet so that it can get used to the new feeding process. Over time your pet will associate the sound of the machine with feeding time.
After a few meals, it’s recommended to clean the station, which is not a big deal, as the washable parts are removable and dishwasher safe. Thumbs up for that!
Like I mentioned before, this is not the right electronic feeder for a pet that needs medication on time throughout the day. Due to the design of the machine, it is not possible to distribute medicine in a safe way to your pet.
When we got our second cat Minnie, we needed to buy another feeder as the one we already got (the PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Electronic Pet Feeder) is not suitable for multiple cats. We thought of buying this device a second time, because we were really happy with it. We then decided against a second feeder because we prefer handling only one product. This was the main reason I kept looking for a device that feeds both of our furry babies in a reliable way. The power adaptor was also a big advantage.
With this electronic feeder you get the king of single compartment feeders. Once the programming is mastered you enjoy a top quality product with the benefit of a ‘slow feeding mode’. To get the best out of this feeder I recommend using it with the power adaptor. Again, this is best bought through amazon to get the best price.
In contrast to the two electronic feeders I reviewed above, I never owned the Feed and Go Smart Feeder myself. One hand hand, because we have two cats and were not looking for a multiple compartment feeder, on the other hand because this feeder is quite new on the market. The basics are the same as the PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Electronic Pet Feeder. The same as the basics of a Volkswagen and a Rolls Royce. You get the absolute luxury and top of the line edition with the Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder. Over 120 reviews and a straight 5 star rating speak for themselves.
The first thing you notice is the neat and minimalist design of the feeder which undoubtedly looks fancier than any other electronic feeder out there. A big plus is also that the device comes with a power adaptor. Unlike the other feeders I presented on this page, the Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder is cord powered only. Finally a company that thinks the same way I do!
The dishwasher safe tray fits 6 meals (with 236 ml being the maximum portion size) and you are ‘officially’ allowed to feed dry food, wet food and of course treats and medication with this product. The design is pet proof, no matter how hard it wants to access the food. The low center of gravity makes it also very unlikely to fall over. But what really makes the Feed and Go Smart Pet Feeder outstanding is the technology underneath the highly modern design.
The build in Wi-Fi connects to your internet at home fairly easy and allows you to watch your pet while being fed wherever you are. This works on smartphones with iOS, Android and Windows through the internet browser. It also works on Tablets and computers. How awesome is that?
The set up process of the food schedule is also the easiest of all 3 electronic feeders. You log on to your profile in a web browser and customize the schedule there (you can manage multiple Feed and Go Feeders with a single profile). The data is then send through Wi-Fi to the Feeder.
My first thought was to schedule a meal of my cats in sync with my lunch break at the office. See my furry babies eating through the webcam while me being away is really something I wish for sometimes. On top of that you have the option to record your voice and the electronic feeder plays the recorded sound while the meals are revealed to your pet. The webcam is accessible anytime, even when your pet is not enjoying a meal. When you want to check on your pet and its not in sight, you have the option of calling it over with your recorded voice. That is the biggest benefit in my opinion.
If you don’t want to log on to your account, or don’t have access to the internet on the go, the device also sends out text messages to your cell phone to confirm that your pet is being fed on time. That stops you from worrying, especially if your pet receives medication with this feeder.
The Feed and Go Smart Feeder is a great all in one device that offers not only feeding, but also extra time with your pet when you are not around. These features are packed in a great looking design.
I hope this guide helps you choose the right electronic feeder for your and your pets needs.
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