The fast lives of today can not only put stress on your personal as well as family well-being but also affect the time and care that you can give to your beloved cat or dog. Every pet owner knows that reliable, disciplined and consistent feeding habits help your favorite pet to stay healthy and free from digestion-related issues. However, one of the major causalities of being always-on-the-run is maintaining a timely calendar for feeding your pet.
So, if you love your furry friend and are worried about maintaining a reliable schedule for feeding, then an automatic dog feeder (or automatic cat feeder) is exactly what you need. These intelligently designed equipment have a smart mechanism to provide consistent feeding portions to your pet, even in your absence.
In this article, we share our review and recommendations for some of the best automatic pet feeders available in the market. Our primary focus would be on two categories of feeders – gravity pet feeders and electronic pet feeders. In electronic feeders, we will look at both timer-based automatic pet feeders and smart electronic feeders with app.
We will also list out some of the considerations to keep in mind while picking the best automatic pet feeder for your pets and share our top picks.
Best automatic pet feeders list - Gravity-basedSome of the best gravity-based cat and dog automatic feeders available in the market are listed below:
|Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder
|Large: 12 lbs.
Medium: 6 lbs.
|- This popular, made in the USA, gravity dog feeder features a plastic hopper and bowl made with environmentally safe PET material.
- Also features an air-tight lid with an extra-wide mouth for easy refill and cleaning.
- Base and lid are dishwasher safe.
- Comes in three sizes - three, six and twelve pounds and multiple color combinations.
- Suitable for small, medium and large dog breeds and all cats.
|Bergan Gourmet Feeder
|Petite Feeder: 6 lbs.
Elite Feeder: 13lbs.
Petite Waterer: 1.5 gal.
Elite Waterer: 3 gal.
|- A versatile, made in the US, dry-food feeder having a BPA-free plastic container and steady flow design.
- Comes with an air-tight lid with extra-wide mouth for easy refill and cleaning.
- Features an extra-wide stable base to prevent tipping.
- Comes in two sizes - Elite (13 lbs.) and Petite (6 lbs.). Also, has a waterer combo available.
|PetSafe Dog and Cat Food Station
|Medium: 4 lbs.
Small: 2 lbs.
|- A uniquely designed pet feeder for small or medium dog breeds and all cats.
- Features a durable plastic hopper with an air-tight locking mechanism.
- Comes with a removable, dishwasher-safe stainless steel bowl for feeding.
- Comes in two sizes - Medium (4 lbs.) and Small (2 lbs.)
|Pureness Auto Feeder
|Large: 10 lbs.
Medium: 6 lbs.
x-Small: 3.3 lbs.
|- A standard gravity dog feeder with a BPA-free plastic hopper and base.
- Smartly designed to gradually fill the feeding bowl and never overfill it.
- Medium size suitable for medium to large dog breeds. Also, comes in x-small for small dog breeds and cats and large capacity feeders for x-large breeds and multiple dogs.
|Aspen Pet Lebistro Feeder
|Small: 2 lbs.
Medium: 5 lbs.
Large: 10 lbs.
x-Large: 18 lbs.
|- Made in the US, gravity feeder with a PET plastic hopper and BPA-free plastic feeding bowl.
- Features a traditional bottle hopper which attaches to the base using a twist lock.
- Available in a wide range of sizes for all dog and cat breeds.
Best automatic pet feeders list - ElectronicSome of the best automatic pet feeders (electronic) with timer and smart pet feeders are listed below:
|PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder
|- Best-selling automatic dog feeder which can be programmed to deliver 12 meals per day in different feeding modes.
- Features a BPA-free, durable plastic hopper and a stainless-steel feeding bowl.
- The meal size can be programmed from 1/8 cup to 4 cups per meal, so suitable for small, medium and large dog breeds and all cats.
- Has anti-jam conveyor that can dispense dry or semi-moist foods.
- Works with 4 D-batteries and can also support DC power through an optional power adapter.
- A smart version - PetSafe automatic dog feeder with app is also available.
|Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder
|- An innovatively designed, electronic pet feeder made with food-grade ABS.
- Provides ability to fully program 4 meals per day with each meal size ranging from 1/10 cup to 2.5 cups.
- Features a magnetic lock lid and a blue LCD clock and display to program feeding schedule.
- Comes with 10 second call recorder to record meal calls.
- Can work with both D-batteries (not included) or DC power supply (adapter included).
|WOpet Automatic Pet Feeder
|- A compact, uniquely-shaped automatic pet feeder for cats and dogs.
- Can store up to 5 lbs. of dry or semi-moist kibble and can schedule 4 meals of 1/32 to 4-cups portion size per meal.
- Also features a built-in voice recorder and speaker for short 10 sec. meal call.
- Has a smart Infra-red based food-locking prevention system.
- Uses 3 D-batteries for operation or power supply.
- Backed by 12-month warranty.
|WestLink Automatic Pet Feede
|- Large-sized automatic pet feeder with a BPA-free ABS plastic hopper and large feeding bowl.
- Features easy-to-program 1 to 39 portion size, 4 times a day. 10 sec. Voice Recording to call food time.
- Features infrared anti-jam mechanism to prevent food blockage and over-feeding.
- Runs on D-batteries (3 batteries) or USB power through Adapter.
|Fitiger Automatic Pet Feeder
|- Smart, simple to program automatic pet feeder with a BPA-free ABS plastic hopper and large feeding bowl.
- Features easy-to-program portions ranging from 1/4 cups to 3 cups (12 settings), 3 times a day.
- Features standard anti-jam mechanism to prevent food blockage.
- Runs on D-batteries (no DC power).
|Cat Mate C500 Automatic Pet Feeder
|- Tray-type, automatic cat feeder designed to work with wet or dry food.
- Works on 3 AA batteries that can last for a year.
- LCD display and can be programmed to deliver up to 5-meals per day up to 1.5 cups.
- Features a dishwasher proof ABS-plastic tray and tamper proof design.
- Also features twin ice packs to keep the wet food fresh for a long time.
- Backed by a three-year manufacturer warranty.
|TDynasty Design Automatic Tray Pet Feeder
|- A unique, tray type automatic cat feeder. Also works well for small dog breeds.
- Has 5 separate feeding trays, each with up to 1 cup capacity.
- Works with both wet and dry food.
- Can be programmed to dispense 5 meals per day.
- Also features a built-in voice recorder and speaker for short 10 sec. meal call.
- Supports both DC power (adapter included) and C-batteries.
|iPettie Donut Automatic Pet Feeder
|- Elegant-looking and effective tray-type automatic cat feeder that supports both wet and dry food storage.
- Features 6 separate BPA-free ABS food trays for storing food as well as ABS plastic body.
- Offers scheduling up to 6 timed meals, each with a maximum of 6 oz. of food. Comes with an alarm that sounds whenever the food is available.
- Allows adding 10 mm. ice packs (not included) to keep the wet and dry food fresh for additional 2-3 hours.
- Powered by 3 C-type batteries (not included) or power outlet through the USB-port power adapter (not included).
- Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.
What are automatic pet feeders and what are their major benefits?
Automatic pet feeders are smartly designed feeding equipment that automatically dispense pet food stored in an air-tight container (called the hopper) to a feeding bowl through a feeding chute or conveyor.
Automatic pet feeders offer an effective way to feed your pet even if you are not around at the time of feeding. They also help in managing some major health issues such as diabetes in pets. Moreover, smart automatic feeders provide a convenient way to stay connected with your pet through the app using a camera in the feeder even when you are not around.
An automatic pet feeder essentially has three important parts – the air-tight hopper which dispenses the stored food, the plastic, ceramic or steel bowl from which the pet feeds and the conveyor, chute or tube which transfers the kibble to the bowl.
The simplest automatic cat or dog feeders rely on the basic principles of gravity to manage the portion sizes, while electronic and smart automatic feeders use timers and Internet-based mobile apps to manage the feeding time and portion sizes. These categories are discussed in more detail below.
Gravity based automatic pet feeders
As the name suggests, gravity pet feeders rely on gravity to dispense the right size of food to your pet. They have a simple design, with the food flowing off the chute to the bowl whenever the pet feeds on the content of bowl. When the bowl is full, the flowing tube is blocked and no further food is dispensed. They are more popular with dogs and multi-cat homes.
Gravity pet feeders have following advantages and disadvantages:
Electronic automatic pet feeders
Electronic automatic pet feeders rely on electronic circuitry to manage dispensation of fixed size portions of food at programmed times. Electronic feeders generally have an LCD screen through which you can set up or program the feeding times and sizes. Popular electronic feeders provide a microphone to record your voice and play it as pet-call during feeding time. Latest automatic pet feeders even use smart technologies such as Mobile apps to manage the feeding time for your dog or cat. Furthermore, high-end electronic pet feeders even have a webcam to record your pet’s activities while around the feeder.
Electronic feeders have following major benefits and drawbacks.
A typical electronic pet feeder (Courtesy: Pyrus Automatic Feeder, Amazon.com)
How to pick the best automatic pet feeder for your dog or cat?
In order to pick the best automatic dog or cat feeder for your needs, you need to consider all your needs and budget. If you plan to spend not more than 30 bucks, then gravity dog feeders are your only bet. However, if you can spend more, you can consider an automatic pet feeder with timer. In addition to the budget, you can consider the following main factors while picking the best automatic feeders for your favorite pet:
- Purpose and type of feeder
- Design of the feeder
- Capacity of feeder and portion size
- Ease of use and cleaning
- Additional considerations and features
Purpose and type of feeder
The first thing you should consider while picking an automatic feeder is to decide whether you want to go with a gravity feeder or an electronic feeder. In order to decide between the categories of feeders, you have to think about the purpose for which you are considering to get such a feeder. You should consider the following major things:
- Are you looking for a feeder simply to store the food and monitor the feeding personally? If you can monitor your pet’s feeding and manage access to the feeder personally, then you can comfortably go with gravity dog or cat feeders. However, if you are looking for unmonitored feeding control during the day or for a couple of days, then you should go with an automatic pet feeder with timer.
- What is the breed of your dog or cat? Some electronic feeders, especially the tray type and smart feeders are suitable only for small and medium dog breeds. Almost all feeders we listed are suitable for cats, though tray type and low-base electronic feeders would find special preference by your cat.
- Do you have a special needs pet whose meals need to be manager accurately, such as pets suffering from diabetes, pancreatitis or obesity? In such cases, you should only consider electronic automatic feeders.
- Do you have a power outlet setup with a consistent power supply? Some electronic feeders can run on DC power output and hence save you the hassle of changing the batteries. However, they would lose their programming if the power supply is lost and you would have to reset the feeding regimen.
- Are you looking for a feeder that supports wet food? Only tray type electronic and smart feeders such as Cat Mate C500 Automatic Pet Feeder and iPettie Donut Automatic Pet Feeder provide the ability to store wet food and medications and are probably the best automatic pet feeders for wet food.
- Do you have multiple pets to feed? All types of gravity and electronic feeders would work with multiple cats and small breed puppies. However, if you are looking for feeders for multiple large breed dogs, then you would have to look for a feeder that can dispense a feed of up to 2 cups. An example of such feeder is the best-selling PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder. It even has a two-way splitter available to distribute food in two bowls.
Keep these considerations in mind before picking the best type of automatic feeder for your needs.
Design of the feeder
There are a bunch of design considerations that can govern your choice of the best automatic pet feeder for your needs.
One such design consideration is mounted vs tray type feeders. Mounted feeders can support multi-day meals, while tray type feeders are suitable only for about a day of feeding. However, tray type feeders can support wet food as well, while mounted gravity and electronic feeders are only suitable for dry and semi-wet kibbles.
Another important consideration is to check the anti-jam features available in the feeders. As discussed above, gravity pet feeders do not really have conveyors or tubes to unblock the flow of feed. Electronic feeders, on the other hand, have smart anti-jam features. However, not all products are same and some products, especially our top picks, perform quite well when it comes to unblocking food supply. Smart feeders such as Petnet SmartFeeder Automatic Pet Feeder have had jamming issues and hence offer optional feeder ramp with their feeders for better blockage management.
Finally, the control on feeding is another important factor to look out for. Electronic feeders provide excellent features for programming the timing and portion size. Some of the most popular ones such as PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder even provide different modes of feeding – slow, ad-hoc and timed. Smart feeders go a few steps further and provide you full control, view and feeding history of your pet. You can even record your beloved pet’s feeding video using an SD card and share it online!!
Check out the all these design considerations and read the reviews to determine which particular model would be fit for your furry friend.
Capacity of the feeder and portion size
The capacity of the feeder is another factor to consider. We have listed out gravity feeders with a hopper capacity ranging from 2 lbs. for small PetSafe Dog and Cat Food Station to 12 lbs. for the large Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder. You can even pick a feeder capacity as per your requirement.
Closely related to the capacity of the hopper are the portion size and programmable meals that can be set in the feeder. Some feeders allow setting up of only 3 meals a day with a portion size of up to 1 cup per meal and hence are suitable for small dog breeds and cats only. Other feeders provide the ability to configure up to 12 meals a day and so, can be used for medium and large dog breeds.
Check out the portion sizes, meal settings and capacity of the hopper to pick the best automatic pet feeder for your needs.
Ease of use and cleaning
Everyone loves a product that is easy to setup and reliable to operate. As discussed above, gravity feeders do not require any programming. Moreover, the modern gravity feeders we listed above have an air-tight lid that simplifies refilling and cleaning.
Electronic feeders, on the other hand, provide full control on feeding regimen at the cost of minor program setup. Smart feeders go a step further by giving you full control through a smartphone or tablet application.
Irrespective of automatic feeder type, the removable tray and bowls should be easy to detach, clean and replaced without much fuss. You can check out the specifications to determine how easy it would be to maintain the feeder.
Additional factors and considerations
In addition to the four factors discussed above, there are a couple of other considerations that can make a purchase more attractive than others.
One such factor is the additional features available with the feeder. Electronic feeders provide the ability to record a short calling message through a microphone and play it at the time of feeding. Moreover, these feeders can also store a history of feeding times. Smart feeders even have features such as HD webcams to stream feeding videos and optionally store them in SD cards.
Another factor associated with the automatic pet feeders is the power support. Since these feeders need electric power to operate the food conveyor, they use either three or four D-Cell alkaline batteries or DC power outlet. Some feeders support both modes, while feeders such as Fitiger Automatic Pet Feeder can only be powered by batteries.
Keep these other small considerations in mind while picking the best automatic pet feeder for your cat or dog.
Which are the best automatic pet feeders and what our picks are?
The Petmate Pet Cafe gravity feeder is an excellent choice for gravity based automatic pet feeders. This best-selling gravity feeder is made in the USA with BPA-free and environmental-friendly PET plastic.
The Petmate feeder has an air-tight lid with an extra-wide mouth for easy refilling and cleaning. The feeding tray is elevated through the base to provide a convenient feeding station to the pet to chow on the food without spilling.
The feeder is,however, not dishwasher-safe and we recommend using a bottle brush and warm soapy water to clean.(Earlier details indicated that the lid and base of the feeder are dishwasher safe).
The 12 lbs. feeder is an excellent fit for large dog breeds or multiple pets. For smaller breeds or cats, you can check out the three or six pound feeder.
What’s more, the Petmate Pet Café Feeder comes in three color combinations – white, tan and waterfall, so you can pick one best suited for your home. And like other Petmate plastic pet products, the Pet Café Feeder is backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects – a testament to the superior quality of the product.
With the kind of electronics involved, finding a reliable automatic feeder may pose a challenge. Not Really! The PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder is undoubtedly the best automatic feeder in the market across all the categories.
This automatic pet feeder has a sleek design with an ABS plastic hopper and a separate stainless steel bowl which can hold up to 4 cups of food. The bowl is dishwasher safe. The feeder is designed in a way that it is completely air-tight and you would not need to worry about ants and critters getting into the hopper.
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Feeder has an ultra-quiet dispenser motor and boasts of the best-in-class anti-jamming system that has gone through multiple updates to make it almost perfect. That means you can expect a problem-free feeding with most types of dry and semi-moist kibbles. It works best with dry and semi-moist pet kibbles that are up to 0.75-inches in diameter.
Moreover, the feeder offers maximum flexibility in terms of the number of meals, portion sizes, and feeding modes. The feeder is equipped with a digital LCD-screen with 5-button navigation for easy programming. (We recommend you check the instruction manual in case of any challenges in setting up the feeder – The first 3-4 feedings will be empty as the conveyor belt fills each slot with food inside the feeder).
The feeder has the standard feeding mode that dispenses the food at a preset time. There are two additional feeding modes for special situations – the immediate feed mode dispenses the next set meal instantly, while the pause feed mode temporarily stops feeding without losing the programmed feeding schedule. The feeder even has a slow-feeding mode for your fast-feeding pet – you can schedule meals that are larger than 1/8 cup to slowly dispense over a 15-minute cycle.
And that is not all! If you are looking for an automatic cat feeder for multiple cats, you can get a two-way splitter adapter or a three-way splitter adapter for the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder. The splitter adapter can conveniently split the automatic feed across two or three feeding bowls. No more competitive feeding and fighting among multiple cats anymore!
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder can run on 4 D-cell batteries or an optional power adapter. This would probably be your only complaint. You need to purchase the adapter separately. Still, it is a small price to pay for such reliability.
The PetSafe Healthy Pet Automatic Feeder is backed by a one-year warranty and a dedicated customer support service.
The emergence of connected technologies has revolutionized almost all aspects of our life and automatic pet feeding has not been untouched. Past couple of years have seen the emergence of a bunch of smart feeders which use Wi-Fi connected applications to manage automatic feeding of dog. However, because of the relatively nascent stage of development, finding the best smart electronic feeder can be a challenge. Not with the latest WOpet SmartFeeder Automatic Feeder!!
The WOpet Smart Feeder is an accurate electronic automatic feeder for your pet which provides reliable feeding control through a 2.45 MHz WI-Fi connection and a supported smart app. The WOpet app works on both Android and iOS platforms and provides an easy way to dispense up to 4 meals a day, with portion ranging from a tenth of a cup to 1 cup. The smart app does not have the best interface, but it is still reasonably simple to use.
Because of this portion size, this feeder is most suitable for small and medium dog breeds and all cats. In case of a lost connection, the feeder is designed to follow the offline feeding regimen.The feeder works with both DC power (adapter included) and 3 D-cell batteries.
The WOpet Smart Feeder also has a 1 Megapixel camera with a 120-degree viewing angle. It also has recording and real-time relaying capability allowing you to interact with your pet in real time while feeding.
Best automatic pet feeders for multiple pets
We often get asked about the best automatic cat feeder for multiple cats or the best automatic pet feeder for multi-pet homes. So, let us discuss it in brief here and share our recommendations.
If all your pets are on the same diet, then as mentioned above, you can look at the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder. There are some two-way splitter adapters or three-way splitter adapters available in the market for the PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder, which can help in distributing the food to 2 or 3 pets.
However, if you have multiple pets or cats/dogs on different diets or one pet dominates the other and steals food, then you need something more sophisticated. Thankfully, there is one successful product for this purpose – the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder .
This smart feeder allows you to use the pet’s microchip or an RFID tag attached to the pet’s collar to program the feeder to only open for the specific pet. The microchip RFID tags are simple, small and easily available separately. Do check this innovative product out if you want to prevent one pet to gorge on the food of another pet. For some more options for selective pet feeders, check out our article on the best microchip cat feeders.
Batteries for automatic pet feeders
While gravity feeders do not need any batteries to operate, electronic automatic feeders do. Most of them use three or four D-cell batteries to operate. Some of them can support DC power as well. If you are looking for D-cell batteries, you can consider the following standard options:
- Energizer Max Premium D-Cell Alkaline Batteries
- Duracell Coppertop D-Cell Batteries
- Rayovac UltraPro Alkaline D Batteries
- Polaroid Extreme C-Cell Alkaline Batteries
Only tray type automatic feeders use C-cell batteries. For such feeders, you can consider the following standard options:
Things to remember while using automatic pet feeders
Automatic feeders are an excellent way to keep your pet dog or cat on a feeding regimen, even when you are not around. However, to ensure proper usage, keep the following things in mind while using such feeders:
- Read the instructions carefully before setting up the feeders. You can also checkout the installation videos by manufacturer or online.
- Always setup the feeder on stable, flat surface to prevent any unwarranted tipping offs by pets.
- If your pet is not self-restrained or suffering from obesity or other health issues, avoid using gravity feeders, as there is no control on feeding when in unmonitored usage. Use an automatic feeder instead to manage portion size and feeding time.
- In case of gravity feeders, make sure you do not put the main container of the feeder in the dishwasher. Only the base and lid are dishwasher safe.
- Gravity feeders do not have anti-jam or food unblocking features. So, do not rely on these feeders except for short trips of one or two days at one time.
- Always use only recommended food types. Except for tray type feeders, all other feeders support only dry or semi-moist feed.
- In case of automatic battery powered feeders, if the program or conveyor/tube is not working properly, check the batteries of the feeder and replace them if required. Some automatic feeders even have low battery indicators that you can rely on.
- Consult your vet if your dog shows any signs of discomfort, bloating or discomfort after feeding.
Final thoughts on the best automatic dog and cat feeders
Automatic dog and cat feeders are a lifesaver for always-on-the-go people when it comes to maintaining a strict feeding discipline for pets. Such feeders provide an excellent way to feed dry food or kibble to your favorite pet, even when you are not around.
In this article, we looked at some of the best automatic dog feeders available in the market. We focused on three types of feeders – simple gravity feeders, automatic pet feeders with timer and smart automatic pet feeders with app. We also looked at how the electronic and smart feeders have revolutionized control feeding and shared our top picks for each category.
Though our focus was on standard feeders for dogs, most of the options that we listed would work just as well for cats. Moreover, you can sometimes get bigger or smaller capacity models from the same manufacturer.
We hope that this article would help you in picking the best automatic dog feeder (or best automatic cat feeder). Do let us know how you found this article by providing your feedback in the comment section. Until next time, have a wonderful time feeding your beloved pet!!