The 3 Best Automatic Cat Feeders of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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The best automatic cat feeders ensure mealtime is never missed. Whether your cat wakes you up at the crack of dawn for breakfast, prefers to eat multiple small meals a day, or is in need of stricter monitoring of their food intake, a reliable feeder is a convenient option. And if you need to be away overnight, it will keep your loved one from going hungry. China Furniture

The 3 Best Automatic Cat Feeders of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

We spoke to two veterinarians and tested seven automatic pet feeders to determine which were easiest for both humans and felines to navigate. Our top pick is the Litter-Robot Feeder-Robot, an easy-to-program smart feeder that connects to WiFi. We also like the budget-friendly Cat Mate C3000 Automatic Feeder for its reliable operation and large capacity.  

Read more about how Insider Reviews tests and evaluates pet products.

Best overall: Litter-Robot Feeder-Robot - See at Litter-Robot The WiFi-enabled Litter-Robot Feeder-Robot is super easy to program and its app can be used to set and track multiple feedings daily.

Best budget: Cat Mate C3000 Automatic Feeder - See at Chewy The affordable Cat Mate C3000 Automatic Feeder works reliably to dispense up to three programmed meals per day.

Best for wet food: Sure Petcare Surefeed Connect Microchip Feeder - See at Sure Petcare The Surefeed Connect Microchip Feeder tracks an individual cat's eating habits while protecting food from unauthorized household pets.

Pros: WiFi-enabled, large capacity, programmable via control panel or app, money-back guarantee, warranty

Cons: Less than 24 hours of backup battery life, WiFi and power outages prevent data tracking via app

The large-capacity Feeder-Robot ranked highest in ease of use and functionality among the best automatic cat feeders. It can be programmed to dispense scheduled feedings or keep the dish full at all times.

This device required little assembly and was easy to connect to WiFi. With the built-in control panel, you can program meals and portion sizes and send a snack. The same functions can be controlled via the app, which also lets you change the feeding schedule for different days of the week and track how much your pet eats on average per day.

My cats ate from the Feeder-Robot without any trouble, and it didn't jam during testing. Because the dish is wide and shallow, there's no risk of whisker fatigue. The mechanical whir of the hopper and cascade of kibble that followed were audible from other rooms but weren't so loud that they startled me.

If the WiFi goes out, the feeder continues to dispense food, but the app stops tracking the meals and snacks dispensed. Unfortunately, I didn't receive a push notification when the connection was lost. I had to open the app or look at the feeder's control panel to see if it was offline. When I turned the WiFi back on, the feeder reconnected to the internet within seconds.

A backup battery steps in during power outages. In my test, the battery lasted 21.5 hours instead of the advertised 24 hours. The app also did not notify me when the power went out, so this feeder isn't a good option if you plan to be away for a long weekend.

Although the Feeder-Robot holds the second largest volume of food of the machines we tested, its footprint is relatively small. It comes with a hand-washable plastic food dish, but a dishwasher-safe glass dish is available for an additional $25.

Pros: Large capacity, long battery life, 3-year warranty 

Cons: Assembly and programming can be confusing, not WiFi enabled, cats may be able to get into the hopper

If you're looking for an inexpensive large-capacity feeder, the Cat Mate C3000 is an excellent choice for dispensing the best cat food. It doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it reliably dispenses meals and has an on-demand feeding button. Because it runs on batteries, it also won't miss a beat if the power goes out.

Of the feeders we tested, this one required the most assembly. Although the instructions were relatively straightforward, I struggled to get the two main pieces in place. However, my assistant immediately figured out the problem and had the machine ready to go in less than two minutes. Programming the machine wasn't intuitive either, but the instructions helped.

The smallest meal this machine dispenses is two teaspoons (a "feed unit"). To increase a meal's size, you can program additional units. The feeder hummed along day after day, reliably dispensing meals without jamming, and my tester cats comfortably snarfed up their food.

Thanks to the wide and shallow food dish, sensitive cats won't experience whisker fatigue. The falling kibble and whirring machine was audible in other rooms of my home but not so loud that it made me jump.

The Cat Mate C3000 is BPA-free, and everything but the base is dishwasher-safe. The batteries will last for six to nine months of continuous use, and an indicator flashes when power is running low. Be warned: Unless you change the batteries within a minute, the feeder must be reprogrammed.

Compared to our top pick for the best automatic cat feeders, the Cat Mate C3000 is less sturdy, and a curious, problem-solving cat may be able to unlock the lid. However, the feeder performed its job just as well as its competitors. Whether you plan to use it daily or just for long weekends away, the Cat Mate C3000 is a great deal.

Pros: Tracks portions and feeding frequency; prevents unauthorized pets from stealing food; holds wet food, semi-moist food, or kibble; battery-operated; comes with a 3-year warranty

Cons: Automatic lid may startle some cats, hub sold separately, must be connected via ethernet cable and placed within 30 feet of feeder to enable WiFi, batteries not included

The cleverly designed Surefeed Connect Microchip Feeder doesn't hold a lot of food compared to our other picks for the best automatic cat feeders. However, its genius lies in how well it prevents unauthorized pets from stealing what's there. Plus, it monitors how much authorized pets eat.

By syncing with a cat's existing microchip or the included RFID collar tag, the feeder only lifts its lid when an authorized pet approaches, then closes when they walk away. The device can store up to 32 different identities so you can track food intake for multiple cats.

The Surefeed's primary functions are controlled with buttons on the device, and it also operates in concert with an ethernet-connected hub and app. The app is not as useful as those of other feeders: It primarily tracks how frequently and how much a pet eats, but you cannot program additional pets or open and close the device.

When disconnected from WiFi, the only thing that stops working is the tracking. Although the app sends a notification each time a pet eats, it did not inform me when the connection was lost. The feeder has a battery life of approximately six months, and there's a low-battery indicator light.

Because of the way the lid rises, sensitive cats may struggle with the Surefeed. It is nearly silent, but the lid's sudden lift and folding motion startled my tester cat. Fortunately, there is a training mode for acclimating hesitant cats.

It's important to note that pets without a microchip who cannot wear a collar to hang the RFID tag will not be able to use this machine. If the tag is lost, which my cat accomplished in just a month, you can buy a two-pack of replacement tags.

The Surefeed comes with two hand-wash-only BPA-free plastic bowls and a mat. The bowls and mat are available in additional colors and also stainless steel.

If you don't need to monitor your pet's consumption, Surefeed sells a less expensive machine, the Surefeed Microchip Feeder, which lacks the weighing and tracking functionality the Connect provides.

Read our full review of the Surefeed Connect Microchip Feeder.

Both veterinarians we interviewed agreed that automatic pet feeders are a good option for many families with cats. "Automatic feeders are great for people that work long hours and cannot free feed because the cat overeats or for people that go on short business trips," said Megan Wilson, a veterinarian at Pennsylvania SPCA in Philadelphia. "It's also a useful tool to help with portion control if we are trying to maintain and/or lose weight."

When shopping for an automatic feeder, the first thing to consider is its primary use in your household. If you plan to use an automatic feeder to provide small meals throughout the day or keep your kitty fed during overnight trips away from home, you'll need a large-capacity feeder that can hold several meals at a time. If you plan to use an auto-feeder to monitor your cat's food intake or help them lose weight, both large- and small-capacity feeders can get the job done.

The capacity of the feeder you choose also depends on the type of food you want to dispense. Large-capacity feeders that release meals from a hopper only work with kibble or soft dry food. In contrast, flat feeders with multiple preportioned compartments, such as the Petsafe Eatwell 5-Meal Feeder, can work with any type of food, including wet options.

With large-capacity kibble feeders, look for a machine that can dispense multiple small meals daily, which most cats prefer, according to Ana Hodgson, a veterinarian at Maryland SPCA in Baltimore. "In the wild, cats are known to eat 10 to 20 small meals a day," she said.

A good large-capacity feeder should also have some, if not all, of the following features:

A good wet food-capable feeder should have some, if not all, of the following features:

Smart options exist for both large- and small-capacity feeders. WiFi-enabled and mobile app-controlled feeders should have some, if not all, of the following features:

We tested each of the seven pet feeders in this guide for at least three weeks. In addition to monitoring the reliability of each device, we also considered the following when selecting the best automatic cat feeders:

Ease of assembly: Some feeders arrived almost fully assembled, while others required some effort to put together. I assessed how quickly and easily I could set up each feeder, including whether I had to purchase batteries. For the smart-enabled devices, I determined how quickly and easily the feeder connected to WiFi and its mobile app.

Ease of programming: The control panels on each device varied significantly. I considered how complicated they were to use by programming each to dispense three meals daily. I also looked at whether the size of a meal could be adjusted from feeding to feeding.

Capacity: Although the automatic feeders we tested have different functions, I measured how much food each machine could hold. For the large-capacity feeders, I also determined whether the machine or, in the case of smart feeders, the app notified me when the food was running low.

Noise: When the machine dispensed a meal, I evaluated whether just the cats could hear it or if the humans could, too. Some feeders were louder than others, and some even triggered a startle response in the cats. I also considered whether a feeder could be programmed to play a personalized voice recording to call my cats to their dinner.

Power and WiFi: Since it's essential that a feeder reliably dispenses meals even when you're away from home, I looked at the power supply for each. While some feeders run solely on batteries, others rely on an outlet and have a limited backup battery, if any. I also wanted to know whether the smart feeders would continue to work if the WiFi went down and how long it took a feeder to come back online. I tested this by turning off the WiFi several times for anywhere from 5 minutes to 24 hours.

Cat accessibility: A cat needs to feel comfortable eating from an automatic feeder in order for it to do its job. I monitored my two cats to see how easily they could access food and whether the machine or its dispensing nozzle got in the way. I also considered the size and shape of each dish, favoring those that were wide and shallow enough to prevent whisker fatigue.

Mobile app: The mobile app for an automatic feeder should be straightforward to use for even the least technologically savvy. I played around in the apps of each smart feeder to determine how challenging it was to schedule meals, send a snack, and track my cats' eating habits. Because an app will not connect to the smart feeder when the WiFi is out, I also looked at whether a feeder had a control panel that could be set and adjusted without internet access.

Ease of cleaning: After testing the machines, I thoroughly cleaned each one, noting which had parts that could be thrown in the dishwasher and which had to be washed by hand or wiped down with a moist cloth.

Dumb feeders allow you to program the frequency and size of meals on a control panel embedded in the machine. Smart feeders are relatively new to the automatic feeder game. They are WiFi-enabled devices that pair with a mobile app that allows you to set mealtime, portion size, and feeding frequency remotely. In some cases, like the Surefeed Connect Microchip Feeder, smart auto-feeders also measure how often and how much a pet consumes daily.

All of the dumb feeders we tested for this guide were either 100% battery-operated or had the option to operate the machine with either batteries or a power cord. The three smart feeders we tested also had both battery and power cord options. However, smart feeders don't just need electricity; they also need WiFi, which presents a problem when one or both go out.

We found the smart feeders we tested got back online quickly after power outages of different lengths. During outages, tracking data in the app was disrupted, but it resumed without a hitch when the connection returned.

In most cases, power or WiFi outages are unlikely to cause significant problems. Your cat may be miffed if they miss a meal, but no matter how much they claim otherwise, they'll be just fine. However, if you happen to be out of town for a few days, an extended power outage or a machine that fails to come back online following a shorter outage could have serious consequences. The battery on the Feeder-Robot lasted only 21.5 hours before the machine shut down. Worse yet, depending on the smart feeder, even if you've turned on notifications, you may not know something is wrong unless you enter the app. The Feeder-Robot failed to notify me when the WiFi or power went out.

In light of these issues, if you plan to use your automatic feeder frequently during short overnight trips, you may be better off choosing one that operates solely on batteries to avoid the potential snafu power outages may present. Otherwise, be sure to have a trusted human ready to take over feeding if duty calls.

The 3 Best Automatic Cat Feeders of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

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