Which are the Best Automatic Pet Feeders?
Picture this. You have just screwed up one of the biggest deals at work. To top it off, you receive a ticket for over speeding on the way back home. It couldn’t have been a worse day. You don’t know how to let off some steam, until you return home and see your little fur-baby bound towards you with uninhibited joy, smothering you with licks and kisses. Bliss!
There are some things that only a furry friend can bring into our lives. Constant unconditional love, companionship and lending a patient, non-judgemental ear to our rants.
Ah, if only we could carry them everywhere with us, life would be awesome.
But sadly, that’s not always possible. There will be times when you will be forced to leave your pet alone at home.
Family or friends can probably pet-sit in your unavailability for a few hours. But what if you will be gone for a couple of days or more?
Is boarding your pet the only, albeit expensive, choice?
Like most pet owners, your number one priority would be to ensure that your pet is fed on time. And maybe with a little assistance from a helpful neighbour or a friend with a key, your pet can tide through your absence.
If your schedule demands frequent travel or if you are too tired keeping up with feeding routines for your pet, then an automatic pet feeder can be a lifesaver, for both you and your pets.
What is an automatic pet feeder?
An Automatic pet feeder is designed to dispense specific portions of dog or cat food at certain times of the day, assuring you, that your pet will be fed on time, even in your absence.
It brings with it, a horde of advantages that were previously unavailable for pet owners.
It takes care of feeding when you are travelling: That’s the main purpose of an automatic pet feeder. It can dispense food at scheduled intervals that you can program in advance. So, if you are going to be away for three days, all you need to do is schedule the feeding time and portion sizes for those days and the feeder does the rest.
It helps to control portions: Only specific amounts of the pet food will be dispensed. So, if your pet has the habit of gorging on kibbles or their favourite treat like a whale shark, you no longer need to worry about over feeding. And if its time for a special treat, you can always manually override the settings.
It helps adhere to a schedule: Pets get adjusted to a daily routine. Be it specific feeding times, exercise time or a scheduled nap. Just because you work irregular hours doesn’t mean that their schedules have to go awry. An automated pet feeder ensures that your pet is fed at the same time every day.
Remote Connectivity: Depending on the type and make of the automated pet feeder that you choose, it may have features like remote connectivity using a mobile application. Some pet feeders even have a built-in camera that allows you to keep an eye on your little fur balls while you are away.
Battery Backup: Most automated pet feeders feature battery backup. So even if there is a power outage, the feeder will continue to work as programmed. And there are gravity-fed feeders also.
Easy to setup: Automated pet feeders are easy to set up and use. Some pets take time to get adjusted to eating out of the new food bowl. But it’s only a matter of breaking the ice. It is an inexpensive choice when compared to boarding your pets. And it’s a lot better than having to request friends or relatives to come pet-sit every time you travel.
All said and done, if you decide to go shopping for automated pet feeders, then don’t be surprised at the overwhelming number of choices. Oh yes, there are dozens of brands, each one claiming to be the holy-grail of pet-feeding tech, making your task nothing short of daunting.
Thankfully, we have made it easy for you. Here’s our pick of the top Automated Pet Feeders in the market that gives you more bang for your buck.
#1 – PetSafe Electronic Pet Feeder
Its no wonder that the most popular automated pet feeder comes from PetSafe, a company that is renowned for its elaborate range of electronic pet training products. The PetSafe Electronic Pet Feeder is one of their flagship offerings that simplifies pet feeding.
It is available in two different sizes, a two tray and a five tray version, which you can choose depending on your pets eating habits. And unlike a lot of its competitors, it allows you to serve wet food in the feeding tray.
But what makes this such a popular choice, with over 99% positive reviews all around? Let’s find out.
Like most of PetSafe’s products, this automated meal feeder has a very minimalistic design. There are 5 trays or bins to fill with the pet food, four of which then get covered with a lid that is secured with a clasp, leaving one tray open. This tray then rotates as the machine makes a whirring sound, indicating to your pet that its chow time.
It is powered by 4 D-cell batteries (not included) and has 9 different programmable options, allowing you to customize the feeding schedule as per your pet’s eating habits. The design may seem slightly bulky, but it’s really sturdy and you can even duct tape it to the wall to keep your pet from accidentally tipping it over.
The bins are nice and deep and if your pet needs a slightly larger portion at one particular time of the day, it can easily be served in the bin. Each one can hold at least a cup and a half of dry food at a time.
Using the feeder
The Pet Safe Automated Electronic Feeder is extremely easy to set up. All you need to do is fill the trays with pet food and use the electronic timer to set the feeding times. For example, if your pet eats only one meal a day, then you can program the machine to feed it once every day for five days. If your pet eats two meals a day, then you can set it up to serve two meals for two days and so on.
Do Pets Like it?
The big question though is how soon your pets will get adjusted to the whirring sound that the machine makes. Well, to be honest, it is difficult to answer that. But if customer reviews are to go by, then most pets get adjusted within a week. Chloe, our kitty, was apprehensive for the first two days. From the third day however, she seemed more relaxed. By day 5, she would dart like a bullet to the machine the moment it started to whir. You can always use some positive reinforcement to help them understand that the whirring sound means food. Once your pet gets adjusted to the feeder, you will have them queuing up in front of the machine half an hour before feeding time.
Why customers like it
Apart from the fact that it’s really easy to use, extremely sturdy and makes your life simpler, here are a few technical specifications that make it one of the best automated pet feeders currently, in the market.
- Feeds 5 meals in as many feeding intervals as you’d like
- 9 different programmable options
- Extremely easy to refill. Just flip over the lid and refill.
- Perfect for controlling portion sizes. If your pet is on a weight management diet, then this will take the guess work out of serving measured portions each time.
- Works with rechargeable batteries
- You can serve wet food. Just fill one or two trays with ice to keep the wet food fresh. Or else, you have the option to fill the trays with food and freeze everything and then keep it in the feeder.
- Is made from BPA-free food grade plastic
- The tray is Dishwasher-safe and can be removed and washed easily
- Batteries last for up to 12 months
- A few customers have mentioned that their smart cats figured out how to access the food trays. But that can easily be avoided. All you need to do is put some additional weight on the lid or just modify the clasp, so that it doesn’t open when your cat paws it.
Undoubtedly, this is hands down, the best automated pet feeder in the market currently. It is priced at under $50. It cannot get better than this. If you are looking to make pet feeding simpler, or are concerned about your pets not being fed on time while you travel, then go for the PetSafe Electronic Pet Feeder.
#2 – Aspen Le Bistro Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder
If you hate refilling the automated pet feeder from time to time and only feed dry food to your pets, then the Aspen Le Bistro Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder may be an equally good choice. This is a top loading programmable food dispenser that can feed your pet up to three meals in a day.
Upgraded from a previous model which apparently had a few niggles, the manufacturers seem to have ironed out the crevices, because this is one fine machine that does what it’s supposed to do, deliver food at timely intervals.
Once again, you have the option to choose between a 5 lbs and a 10 lbs dry food storage model and it is battery operated for complete automation.
It is the simplistic design and the ease of operation that makes this the second most popular automated pet feeder in the market.
At first glance, the Aspen Le Bistro Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder looks like a pet water fountain. It has a very similar design with the detachable storage container on top. The container has a plastic lid that is easy to remove and secure back. This makes refilling a breeze.
The storage container is interchangeable by the way. So, if you currently have a 5 lb storage container, you can later upgrade it to 10 lbs without changing the entire machine.
At the bottom, you have a detachable feeding bowl that can be easily removed for cleaning.
There is an LCD screen that displays the various programmable options and a few buttons that allow you to set the meal times and portion sizes.
It is powered by 3 D-Cell batteries (not included). But you also have the option to use an A/C adapter (not included) to power the machine since it features an A/C input. Nevertheless, using the batteries gives you an additional backup option in case of a power failure.
There is a power button on the bottom of the machine which allows you to switch it off when you are not using it. This prevents the batteries from draining.
Using the feeder
Using the Aspen Le Bistro Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder is as easy as setting an alarm clock. All you need to do is set the current time using the Enter and Up, Down buttons to adjust the hours and minutes. Now, long press the enter button for a couple of seconds to select the meals (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) and set the appropriate meal time.
You can also select portion sizes in increments of ¼ of a cup and the maximum selectable portion size is two cups. So, if your pet has a larger portion than two cups at dinner time, then it may not be sufficient.
The storage container is translucent. So, you can monitor the food level easily. Also, it is designed to accommodate and accurately dispense dry food of all sizes and shapes, without getting clogged. However, at times, it does tend to get clogged and you may have to remove the hopper to unclog it.
Batteries are known to last for a couple of years. Some customers have mentioned in their reviews that they have used it for almost five years and have had to change the batteries only twice.
Do Pets like it?
Since it does not have the whirring sound and rotating tray like the PetSafe Electronic Pet Feeder, pets usually have no problem adapting to the new feeder. The only sound that they hear is that of the dry food falling into the food bowl and they love hearing that sound.
Some curious pets have a habit of reaching into the chute hoping to get some extra food. To prevent this from happening, the new model has a trapdoor like design that protects the paddle wheels which dispense food. So, even if your cat reaches into the chute, the best they can do is land a couple of kibbles. Nothing more.
If you are concerned about the pet tipping the unit over and spilling the food, which is a possibility by the way, then you can always secure the lid of the hopper with some duct tape.
Why Customers like it
- What makes this seemingly simplistically designed pet feeder such a favorite with customers?
- Your cat wont paw you awake at 4 in the morning for his meal
- Simplifies pet feeding with automated schedules for up to three meals in a day
- Helps control pet obesity by allowing you to restrict portion sizes
- Easy top-load design allows easy refills
- Large 10 lbs storage capacity means fewer refills
- LCD screen counts and displays the number of meals served. So even if your cat shows a poker face pretending to be hungry, you know that it’s a lie.
- Both the hopper and the food bowl are removable and can be cleaned easily
- The container is translucent and does not hide the food. You know in a glance when its time for a refill.
- Battery Operated with 3 x D size batteries
- Option to use an A/C adapter to power the machine
It does not have a voice recording function. So, if your pet is not around (rarely) at the time of the meal, then there is no way to indicate to them that the food has been served. Also, some pet owners have mentioned how their overzealous pets tend to tip over the entire unit. So, a lid that can be secured with a clasp would have been ideal to prevent the food from spilling over. But, you can always use some duct tape. Problem solved.
The Final Verdict
This is a no-brainer. Just fill the food, set the timings and forget about it. You do not have to break-a-sweat over meal schedules and portion sizes anymore.
#3 – Bergan Gourmet Elite Feeder
When portion sizes don’t matter, then there’s nothing like good old gravity to get the job done. The Bergan Gourmet Elite Pet Feeder is an automated pet feeder with a bare-bones design that is not powered electrically.
But, it is an extremely efficient pet feeder that will ensure that your pets get their food whenever they want it. It features a 13 lb storage container that automatically dispenses food slowly as the food bowl is emptied. So, once your pet finishes the food in the bowl, the feeder will dispense more food. Like we said earlier, if you have multiple pets or are not bothered about the portion sizes, then this is a great choice.
It is minimalistic and you can also buy the combo package with the 1.5 gallon waterer.
Design wise, there is nothing fancy here. It has a large storage container and easily dispenses dry food in all sizes and shapes. It is not meant for moist or wet food though and would end up getting clogged.
There is a wide opening with a lid that allows easy refills, although you won’t need a refill for a long time once you fill it up. The lid snaps shut securing the contents and preventing the food from spilling in case, a curious kitty decides to tip it over.
The food storage container is made from BPA free plastic and it has a stable base that avoids it from wobbling and keeps it secure on the surface.
While it is designed to dispense food slowly, your pet can easily reach into the opening with their paws, which will automatically dispense more food until they are satiated.
Using the Feeder
Since this is a gravity-fed feeder, there is no whirr or beep sound to indicate to the pets that the meal is served. It is as simple as filling it up with food and letting your pet find it when they are hungry. The food dispenser is very effective at dispensing food slowly and rarely gets clogged. Filling it up is easy and since the container is translucent, you’d know right away when it needs to be refilled. The stable base is a great addition to the feeder and there are customers who have used it with their pet Pitbull, weighing 90 lbs without any problems whatsoever.
When not in use, you can clean it easily from inside too with a cloth, thanks to the wide opening.
Do Pets like it?
Unlike electronic feeders which tend to scare some pets and may take some getting used to, gravity-fed feeders like these are as good as a feeding bowl. So pets usually have no problem with it. And since they can always paw their way to more food, they’d actually like this more than one that serves restricted portion sizes.
Why Customers like it
- The Bergan Gourmet Elite Feeder features an ingenious design that is so simplistic that you’d tend to underestimate its effectiveness. That is until you use it.
- Gravity-Fed design. So you’d never have to worry about replacing or recharging batteries
- Large storage container for dry food that easily dispenses food in a variety of shapes and sizes without getting clogged
- Translucent container lets you know when its time for a refill
- Wide opening allows spill-free refills
- Secure lid that prevents food from spilling over
- Stable base to prevent the unit from wobbling
- Made in the USA from BPA-Free plastic
- Wide opening also allows easy cleaning
The Final Verdict
If you are going to be away for a weekend and wish to keep your pet nourished and hydrated without fussing over portion sizes or meal timings, then this is your best choice. It is priced at under $25 and at the price, this is a steal. Go for it.
These are the three bestselling automated pet feeders in the market currently. We have picked these on the basis of the features, the ease of use and the number of positive reviews that they have received. We hope this helps you make an informed choice and select one that is best suited for your furry pal.