I’m sorry, I need to get going. I still haven’t fed the dog.
Oh no! I forgot I need to go feed the dog.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the freedom to live a full social life and not have the guilt of letting your pet go too long without being fed?
Often times in the fast-paced lives we live remembering to feed your cat or dog can be an inconvenience. This doesn’t mean you love your cat any less. It just means that taking care of them puts time constraints on you.
Your pet’s health
Missing meals or inconsistent timelines for meals can lead animals to eat too quickly or to overeat when they do have access to food. To fix this solution you might decide to leave a large bowl with extra food out. The food in the bowl will become stale over time as it loses or gains too much moisture from the air.
In the same scenario, some animals will overeat simply because there is an abundance of food available. Pet obesity is a problem. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention lays out some facts and figures.
Hungry pets and overweight pets are both unfortunate circumstances. In this article we present a number of solutions to help keep your cat or dog fed in healthy amounts and on a consistent schedule. We talk about a number of automatic pet feeders, the different styles they come in and the different options available for each type.
The two main types of pet feeders we talk about are gravity pet feeders and electronic pet feeders. Gravity pet feeders are fairly straightforward and don’t have too many options to consider. On the other hand, electronic pet feeders have subcategories because of the range of options available. This includes timer based electronic feeders and smart electronic feeders. Of course, smart electronic feeders are Wi-Fi capable and can be operated with an app on your smartphone.
What to expect
The main body of this article covers the different types of pet feeders and shows a number of examples for each of them. The review section of this article contains our top picks for the best automatic pet feeder in a specific situation. It would be weird if the best pet feeder for a large dog is also the best for a single cat.
Feel free to use the links below to skip ahead to sections that immediately interest you. Otherwise you can read this article from top to bottom to become an expert on automatic pet feeders. Let’s get to it!
Best Gravity Based Automatic Pet Feeder List
Gravity pet feeders are by far the simplest automatic pet feeder you can find. They keep adding food to the bowl as your pet eats. The food in the bowl keeps the food still in the hopper from moving downward. These are great if your pet is not prone to overeating and you simply need a budget conscious solution to keep your pet fed. Gravity pet feeders are a super simple way to feed your pet when you are working late or out with friends.
Below is a quick list of pros and cons to this type of feeder. After that we have a lineup of some of our favorite gravity style automatic pet feeders.
- quick setup – simply wash the feeder, fill it with food and you are ready to go
- inexpensive – even the best ones on the market are friendly on your wallet
- no power needed – this style of feeder will add nothing to your electric bill
- no control mechanism – your pet has unrestricted access to food
- no anti-jam technology – if the food gets stuck in the chute this type of feeder has no way to automatically restore the flow of food
Van Ness Medium Auto Feeder, 6-Pound
With a six pound capacity, this no frills attached gravity pet feeder is great for medium to large sized dogs. It is made from pet safe plastics to avoid adding extra chemicals to your pet food. You can see through the sides of the hopper to see how much food is left before your next refill.
It is almost impossible for food to jam in the shoot between the hopper and the tray. In fact one of the downsides owners have experienced is the food flows to readily. However, when using a gravity pet feeder this is to be expected. This is a great pick if your pet is not prone to overeating.
Apsen Pet Le Bistro Feeder
This specific pet feeder is a five pound model. Aspen also makes 2, 10 and 18 pound gravity pet feeders. They come in off white, blue, pink, black, red and white. One of the best features of this automatic pet feeder is that it can be paired with a gravity water bowl that is the same size and color.
This one has a smaller chute than the Van Ness we wrote about above. There have been a few users that complained about food getting jammed. If you like the Aspen Pet Le Bistro feeder a possible solution for these jams would be using a kibble with a smaller diameter.
Petmate Pet Cafe Feeder
The Petmate Pet Café Feeder is another top loading gravity feeder. It can hold a maximum of six pounds pet food. It is available in grey, blue and clear bases. In all the color options the hopper is clear to give you an easy reminder when to refill. One nice feature of this feeder is that the cover comes completely off the hopper. This makes refills a breeze.
One downside to this feeder is that it does not have the sturdiest construction. While it will do well for your cats, we cannot recommend this feeder to excitable or large dogs.
Bergan Gourmet Feeder
The Bergan Gourmet Feeder Comes in two different options as far as sizes go. They have the elite and the petite. The Elite model holds up to 13 pounds while the petite version can hold six pounds of dry kibble.
Sometimes you can even find them on sale where they combine the feeder and a water bowl. Bergan also likes to sell their pet feeders in sets of two. If you have more than one pet this can simplify your life.
PetSafe Dog and Cat Food Station
The PetSafe Dog and Cat Food Station Is a unique gravity automatic pet feeder because it has a stainless steel bowl. This is great because it will add a lot of durability to the feeder. If this is the first gravity pet feeder you purchase, it might be the last one you need.
It comes in two sizes. The small holds two pounds of food and a medium holds four. The major drawback here is the size when compared to the other gravity pet feeders we talked about so far. However, if you have a small dog or cat a smaller feeder is a great thing to have.
Next up we move into the electronic automatic pet feeders. These come with more options which can make them a little more expensive. The added options can be very beneficial though, especially when it comes to the health of your pet. Read on to learn more!
Best Electronic Automatic Pet Feeder List
Electronic automatic pet feeders have a huge variety of features and options that are available. These can range from very useful like timers and portion control to fun options like taking pictures and video of your pets eating.
They are generally more expensive than their gravity style counterparts but the added features can be quite valuable. Below is a quick list of pros and cons of electronic automatic cat feeders. After that we show you a lineup of our favorite electronic feeders.
- timer and portion control – program how much and when your pet gets fed
- fun options – speakers and video cameras to make meal time a blast
- medicine and wet food capabilities – they offer some of the best ways to manage your pets health when you are not around
- anti-jam technology – some electronic feeders can unjam the connection between the hopper and the food dish
- power – they must be plugged in or use batteries
- price – electronic feeders are more expensive than gravity style feeders
- complex setup – extra features must be programmed before use
- programming – if you make a mistake your pet may miss a meal or be overfed
Jempet Automatic Pet Feeder
The Jempet Automatic Pet Feeder is a great five meal automatic feeder. This feeder works pretty much like a Lazy Susan turntable. One meal is always exposed and the tray that holds the meals just keeps rotating based on the programmable timer.
This specific Jempet model we are reviewing is the second version. It has a button on the bottom that you need to press in order to program the feeder. It is a very small button that you would need to press with a paperclip or something similar.
The manufacturer did this because in the first version pets were able to stomp on the buttons on top of the unit. Owners complained this would undo the meal timer programming.
You can use wet food in this feeder. If you need to mix in medicines that your pet is taking you can do that before filling the feeder. It plugs into the wall and has a battery option as well. Additionally there is a voice recording capability that you can set to play whenever a new meal rotates in. Each compartment holds 240 ml, just over 1 cup.
This is our pick for best automatic pet feeder for wet food. It earned this rating because of its long term reliability and multiple power sources.
Pyrus Automatic Pet Feeder
The Pyrus Automatic Pet Feeder works the same way as the Jempet. It has a rotating tray that only exposes one meal at a time. However, it does have an additional slot so it can serve one more meal than the Jempet. Each compartment is a little bit bigger, coming in at 330 ml which is a little more than 11 ounces.
The major downside that it has is that it can only operate off of battery power. Because of the power source we had to give the best wet food pet feeder to the Jempet model above.
PetSafe Smart Feed
This pet feeder is wifi-enabled and can be operated through an app on your iPhone or Android smartphone. You can set the feeder so that it will give you alerts each time it dispenses a meal. You will not need to worry whether or not your pet has been fed.
It can hold up to 24 cups of dry food in the hopper. The programmable timer allows you to set up to 12 different meal times with portions ranging from one eighth of a cup to four cups. The PetSafe Smart Feed Operates off of a plug in the wall and has a battery backup.
The only downside to this automatic feeder is that it is not compatible with wet food. PetSafe does make other pet feeders that are generally less expensive and do not have Wi-Fi capability. Other products that PetSafe makes include 2 and 3 way splitters for their feeders. This makes it one of the best automatic feeders for multiple cats or dogs.
Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder
The Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder has a very unique method of Distributing your pets food. You can program up to 4 meals a day. This is fairly standard. However, at each meal the pet feeder will distribute between 1 and 10 portions. Each portion is 24 ml which makes 10 portions just over 8 ounces.
One cup of dog food is often too little for medium sized breeds and especially for large sized breeds. Because of the very accurate portion control the Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder earns our pick for the best automatic pet feeder for small dogs and cats.
It also features a plug into the wall with a battery backup. you can choose to run it on only batteries if you need to place the feeder in a unique spot. The hopper has a 1.14 gallon capacity. that means it can about 18 cups. the largest meal size this pet feeder will produce is one cup.
If you really do love the Arf pets automatic pet feeder and you have a larger dog we have a solution for you. You could program two meals very close together in order to get an appropriate amount of dog food. Otherwise, check out the Fitiger feeder below with a stunning maximum size of a 12 cup meal.
Fitiger Automatic Pet Feeder
The Fitiger Automatic Feeder is an electronic automatic pet feeder that looks like a gravity based pet feeder. The large clear hopper on top matches something you would normally see on a gravity based pet feeder.
You can program up to three meals a day with the smallest meal being about 1 and 1/2 oz and the largest meal possible at 12 cups. This gives you a lot of flexibility in choosing the portion sizes for your pet. Because of the large meal capability it earns our pick for the best automatic feeder for large dogs.
HoneyGuardian A26 Automatic Pet Feeder
The HoneyGuardian A26 Automatic Pet Feeder has the smallest portion control we have ever seen. It goes all the way down to 1/32 of a cup. On the other end it goes all the way up to 4 cups per meal.
Like the other electronic pet feeders on this page it features a voice recording that you can use to call your pet when it is meal time. It plugs into the wall or runs on battery power. The only downside to this automatic pet feeder is the appearance. It may be a little bit difficult to match this to the décor of your kitchen.
Things to Consider Before Buying an Automatic Pet Feeder
There are a few important things to consider when making the choice to purchase an automatic pet feeder. In this section we lay out a list of different features that you will want to be aware of.
The amount of food that an automatic pet feeder can hold and portion out is one of the most important things to consider when looking at automatic pet feeders. This can be really important if you have a very large dog or if you have multiple cats. If your pet is fed on time but does not have enough to eat then we have not really accomplished much.
In the capacity category there are also two different measurements to be aware of. The first is the capacity of the hopper which holds all the food before it is portioned out for your pet. The other is the portion size for each meal.
The hopper needs to hold enough to last the entire time you expect the feeder to take care of your pet. If you are using a gravity based feeder this is fairly straightforward. You do not need to consider portion size since the food simply comes out as your pet empties the dish at the bottom.
However, if you want a more fine-tuned control over how much your pet is eating to help manage their weight then you need to consider the settings on your electronic feeder. It is important to know both the hopper capacity and the meal size. We going to this more in the section on electronic pet feeders and specifically in the highlights for each electronic pet feeder.
If this section of the article was confusing to you or you had not considered how much your pet should be eating at each meal, do not worry. Most pet food manufacturers will list out an appropriate portion size on the bag. This will account for the age and the weight of your pet. If you are looking for a professional opinion you can contact your veterinarian.
Are automatic pet feeders easy to use?
The short answer here is that they should be. The best automatic pet feeders on the market today all feature removable bowls or dishes. You should be able to remove the bowl for cleaning purposes.
The bowl will need to be cleaned much more often than the hopper. The bowl will collect your pet’s saliva and residue from food which can lead to unsanitary conditions. The hopper on the other hand only collects food residue. Good automatic pet feeders will have airtight hoppers which helps keep your pet food fresh.
Electronic pet feeders add some additional ease of use considerations. Electronic automatic pet feeders are able to be programmed to control the amount of food dispensed and time of feedings. This is fairly standard and should be expected.
However, more complex automatic pet feeders may come with things like apps for your smartphone and the ability to take pictures of your pet whenever they approach the bowl.
For some people, these options will be unnecessary and more than they are looking for. In these cases we recommend against considering pet feeders with these options. If you do not plan to use them they will simply complicate the setup process and make it more difficult to use. There are plenty of electronic pet feeders with programmable timers that do not have the extra options of Wi-Fi capability and picture capture technology.
Different Automatic Pet Feeder Designs
There are a few different things to consider when looking at the design of an automatic pet feeder. One of the main things to consider is what type of anti-jam features your pet feeder has.
For the most part, gravity feeders do not have anything like this. If the kibbles happen to line up in such a way that they get stuck, either you or your pet will need to unclog the chute that goes from the hopper to the dish. This is important to think about because a frustrated pet can knock over the feeder and miss out on their scheduled meals because of it.
Some electronic feeders have anti-jam features that will detect and attempt to remedy any obstruction of food. Not all electronic or smart automatic pet feeders have this feature so be sure to look for it in the product descriptions. We do make an effort to highlight this because we feel that it is a very important thing to have.
Another design feature that is unique to electronic pet feeders is the ability to control the number of meals your pet can have in a day. There are even some feeders that will do slow, ad hoc or timed meals. If your pet has a habit of eating too quickly this can save them from any sort of digestive tract discomfort.
Like we mentioned above, some of the more complex electronic pet feeders have the capability to take pictures or video of your pets while they are eating or as they approach the bowl. The feeders can even share this media online.
The last design consideration is if the feeder is a mounted or tray type feeder. We give this its own section because it needs a little more explanation than the other design features listed above.
Mounted vs Tray Type Automatic Pet Feeders
Mounted automatic pet feeders require a little bit of extra effort to install. They attach to a wall in your home. This prevents the feeder from being knocked over by an impatient pet. You may want to consider this if you have a medium or large sized dog since it would be easy for them to knock over a tray style feeder.
Because of their complexity, our review of wall mounted pet feeders is forthcoming.
Tray style feeders on the other hand are stand-alone items. Good tray style pet feeders have wide bases that will help them from being tipped over by cats or smaller dogs.
The main advantage they have over wall mounted feeders is that there is no installation required. Electronic tray style feeders may need to be plugged into the wall. Others operate off batteries and can be placed anywhere. Gravity style pet feeders do not need a power source.
Different Types of Automatic Pet Feeders
Different types of feeders are better suited for different pets with different needs. Some animals are great at self-regulating and will stop eating when they are full. Others will happily chow down on food whenever it is available.
Older cats and dogs may need medications mixed with their food during the day. Pickier pets that prefer wet food to dry kibble can also present some unique challenges when picking out an automatic pet feeder.
Luckily we were able to find solutions to all of these problems in our reviews of the top automatic feeders on the market today. Check out the paragraphs below for specific advice if your pet falls into any of these categories.
Food Storage vs Controlled Feeding
If you are pet is great at managing their own weight then we recommend gravity style feeders. This type of feeder is generally much more affordable than an electronic feeder and will do a great job at keeping your pets food fresh while it stays in the hopper. Click this link to find our list of gravity style pet feeders.
On the other hand if you need or prefer to manage how much your pet is eating and when you will definitely need to go with an electronic feeder. This can either mean a simple feeder with a timer and portion control setting or you may want to consider a smart feeder that you can monitor with your smartphone. Check out this link to see our top picks for electronic pet feeders.
Feeders for Dogs vs Feeders for Cats
Larger dogs may require wall mounted feeders because they are big and strong enough to tip over a train style feeder. Some feeders are extra tempting and have transparent hoppers. Your dog can see this food and may tip over the entire feeder in an attempt to get at it. Even with an opaque hopper the feeder smells like food.
Another thing to think about when choosing an electric pet feeder for a large dog is how large the portion sizes can be. Some can only dispense about 1 cup of food at a time while others can dole out up to 4 cups. Click here to see the Fitiger Automatic Pet Feeder that earned our recommendation for best electronic per feeder for large dogs.
If you have a smaller dog, a patient dog or cats you may be just fine with a tray style feeder. Like we mentioned above it does not require any complex installation or planning ahead when deciding on the placement. Tray style feeders are also great if you live in an apartment or space is a consideration. Click here to see the Arf Pets Automatic Pet Feeder that earned our recommendation for best electronic per feeder for small dogs or cats.
Feeding an Overweight Pet
If your pet is overweight or becoming overweight it will be important to manage their food intake to prevent complicated health problems. In this case you will definitely need to consider an electronic feeder. Good ones come with timer settings and portion control settings. This means you can control when and how much food your pet has access to in a reliable and consistent manner. Have an accurate measure of their caloric intake is important to maintaining your pet’s health. Check out this link to see our top picks for electronic pet feeders.
Battery Powered vs Wall Outlet Style Pet Feeders
assuming you have decided on an electronic pet feeder, and extra consideration you have is deciding between one that runs off battery power or plugs into the wall. Battery powered feeders can offer some extra flexibility when deciding where to place the feeder.
However, there are a few drawbacks to battery powered feeders. One obvious one is that you will need to change the batteries which can add to the expense. You will most likely need to change the batteries before they are completely depleted of their charge. If you wait until the batteries are completely depleted your pet may miss a meal because of it. Some automatic feeders run off both types of power. They can plug into the wall and have a battery backup in the unlikely event of a power outage.
Check out this link to see our top picks for electronic pet feeders.
Automatic Pet Feeders for Wet Food and Medication
There are a few select automatic pet feeders that support both wet food and the administration of medication. Most types of medication for your pet can easily be mixed with wet food. We review and recommend feeders with this option in our list.
Click this link to see the Jempet Automatic Pet Feeder which received our top pick for wet food capable pet feeders.
Can I feed multiple pets with an automatic feeder?
Some manufacturers have developed splitters that divert the food to multiple food dishes as it comes out of the feeder. With multiple pets in your home this is a lifesaver. These diverters are much less expensive than using two different feeders. However, if your pets do not get along you may need to consider multiple feeders in multiple locations.
Click this link to see the PetSafe Samrt Feed which received our top pick for best pet feeder for multiple cats.
Wrapping it all up
We hope you found this article enjoyable! If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them in the section below. Also, you can drop an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We know we left you hanging on the mounted pet feeders. Check back in the next week for updates to this article.