The 9 Best Automatic Cat Feeders, Tested in Our Lab

Our favorite is the Whisker Feeder-Robot

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all tested automatic cat feeders

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Tested & Approved

Our favorite automatic cat feeder is the Whisker Feeder-Robot, which had the most useful app and easiest programming of any feeder we tested. For cats who eat wet food, check out the Cat Mate C500 Digital 5 Meal Dog & Cat Feeder, which uses ice packs to keep food fresher for longer.

An automatic cat feeder is a must-have for anyone looking to keep their cats fed while they're away, whether during the day or during short vacations. They are also useful for doling out precise portions to cats on specific diets, or automating morning feedings, so your cats stop waking you up and instead start waiting by the feeder for breakfast.

We tested and researched 13 different models to find the best automatic cat feeder for a variety of situations, evaluating them for accurate timing, portion control, software, and other features. You can learn more about our testing process in our "How We Tested" section further down the page.

Here are the best automatic cat feeders.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Whisker Feeder-Robot

4.8
feeder-robot
What We Like
  • Useful app and notifications

  • 24-hour back-up battery

  • Chew-resistant power cable

  • Robust settings

  • Easy to use interface

What We Don't Like
  • Not dishwasher-safe

  • Plastic bowl instead of metal or glass

  • Takes up a lot of space

Our testers appreciated that the Whisker Feeder-Robot had a variety of intuitive feeding options and the most useful app of any feeder tested. The feeder scored especially high marks for its features, effectiveness, timer accuracy, and portion control.

The design of the Feeder-Robot is simultaneously futuristic and friendly, though it's definitely on the larger side, so buyers should be ready for it to take up a fair amount of space. Despite it's bulky dimensions, the Feeder-Robot tapers to a 9 x 11.25 inch footprint. This makes it feel a little top heavy, though not enough to be concerned about cats knocking it over—bashing it with a ten-pound sandbag didn't budge it, so neither will your cat.

Set up out of the box was easy, taking us about 15 minutes, including downloading and syncing the phone application (by scanning a QR code on the back of the feeder), which is available on iOS and Android.

It's easy to dial in precise meal times and serving increments with the Feeder-Robot's robust settings, through which you can dispense up to a full cup of food as frequently as eight times a day. A dispenser that uses 1/4-cup increments is already installed in the Feeder-Robot, but you can swap it for an included 1/8-cup dispenser that provides more precise portion control (though this reduces the maximum single serving to 1/2 cup).

There's also a setting that dispenses just enough food to keep the bowl full, with the Feeder-Robot checking its level every 6 hours. If your cat doesn't overeat and you don't closely monitor servings, this "gravity mode" ensures that the feeder isn't dispensing an overflowing mound of food while you're away.

The Feeder-Robot's reservoir can hold up to 32 cups of dry food, though anything other than small, round kibble will likely need the included Hopper Insert. It's designed to more effectively funnel food into the dispenser, but also reduces the total capacity to 25 cups—still a substantial amount of food.

"The app is great!" one tester said, noting their general disdain for having to download an app for every new connected product before describing the Feeder-Robot as an exception. "The notifications provide peace of mind, so I can spend less time worrying about my cats while I'm away."

This same peace of mind is enhanced by the included backup battery, which can continue to run a feeder program even if the power goes out for up to 24 hours.

In addition to notifying you with a push notification at feeding times, the app also allows you to check food levels, build schedules, and tap a button to remotely dispense a snack-size serving. While we've yet to spend enough time with the Feeder-Robot to gauge the usefulness of the app's more in-depth features, they provide unrivaled insights for the cat-owning data nerd: tracking feedings over time, pulling out daily averages, and providing other insights that can be exported to a CSV file ready for Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

Thankfully, the Feeder-Robot doesn't rely on the app. Whether a schedule is established using the app or on the control panel keypad, the Feeder-Robot stores the schedule locally and will continue to maintain the schedule even if it's offline. An easy-to-read blue indicator light highlights whether or not the unit is currently operating on a programmed schedule.

While the Feeder-Robot has a more high-quality feel than many of the other feeders tested—with beefy, trustworthy components that slotted together intuitively—it's worth noting that the clear plastic food reservoir on our test model arrived cracked. It was our impression that this was a shipping error rather than anything specific to the product or manufacturer. Regardless, the device performed flawlessly throughout our testing.

We were also less than satisfied with the included plastic bowl, since it can't be cleaned in the dishwasher and because some cats have skin allergies (however, all components are BPA-free). A dishwasher-safe, hypoallergenic glass bowl is sold separately, adding a $30 surcharge to an already substantial investment. We would have preferred other Feeder-Robot components were dishwasher-safe as well, though its washable components are easy to separate from the feeder's base and hand wash.

The Whiskers Feeder-Robot is available in four different color combinations, with the body available in black or white, in combination with a clear food hopper or a more opaque smoke-colored option. It also comes with a 90-day in-home trial period in addition to its 18-month warranty. There's even free shipping for customers in the contiguous United States.

Whisker Feeder Robot Testing
The Feeder-Robot uses a phone app, but also has a useful button interface that can dispense snack-sized portions.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 32 cups | Dimensions: 15 x 12.5 x 13 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Food Type: Dry

Best Budget: PETLIBRO Automatic Cat Feeder

4.4
petlibro automatic cat feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Battery back-up

  • Slot for a food desiccant bag

  • Affordable and fully featured

  • Multiple models for specific uses

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic bowl

  • Power adapter is a little tricky to connect

  • Desiccant refills add to the expense

The PETLIBRO Automatic Pet Feeder is our former "Best Overall" pick, and while it's still a reliable automatic feeder with several different configurations, it's no longer our favorite. It is, however, a full-featured automatic feeder available at a very reasonable price. While the PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal, recommended elsewhere in this roundup, is marginally more affordable, it has more limited features, whereas the feeder from PETLIBRO has all the bells and whistles.

Described as looking like a "sleek coffee maker" by one tester, the PETLIBRO has a power adapter and a battery backup (which uses 3 D-cell batteries). It has a decent interface for programming a feeding schedule on the LCD screen on the front of the device. You can also record a short message to draw your pet to the bowl for feeding time. Also included is a slot for a desiccant bag to keep kibble dry. However, since PETLIBRO recommends changing the desiccant every two weeks, it may not be worth consistently buying filter refills unless you live in a very humid climate.

Testers were mixed on how difficult programming the PETLIBRO could be, with some wishing for an option to set the feeder using a.m./p.m. times instead of a 24-hour clock. But while we may be more used to the a.m./p.m. split, programming with a 24-hour clock eliminates any ambiguity and makes it less likely you'll set the device to feed at the wrong time. You can schedule up to 4 feedings a day, which can each be customized to serve your preferred portion size. However, you can't set a different schedule for different days, such as weekends—the PETLIBRO will run the same schedule every day.

Our testers were also split on the food reservoir, which requires both hands to open. It's meant to ensure that your pet can't gain access to the kibble in the reservoir, but testers found it aggravating to open and refill. Cleaning was also a bit of a chore, with multiple components that had to be washed by hand.

But the biggest downside to the PETLIBRO Automatic Pet Feeder was its stability—it was the only feeder that was knocked over and spilled food during our stability test. To be fair, we were walloping feeders with a 10-pound sandbag, so we still think the PETLIBRO will hold up well under most feeding conditions. But if your cats are especially rowdy, or if you plan on using the feeder for a dog, you might want to look elsewhere.

Still, this is an overall excellent feeder, especially for the price. While we are highlighting the more affordable model as our "Best Budget" pick, we also tested and can recommend the PETLIBRO Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder, 2.4G Wi-Fi Enabled, which is nearly the same feeder but with Wi-Fi connectivity and an included app. It also features a stainless steel bowl.

While the connected version's app didn't impress as much as the software included with the Whisker Feeder-Robot, our tester still found it a useful added feature.

"I'd definitely recommend it," our tester said. "I like the app component and being to control the feeder remotely with your phone. You can also get notified if something has malfunctioned."

There are other optional configurations of this feeder available as well, including a larger capacity 6-liter version and a version with a semi-opaque reservoir that makes it easier to see how much food is left.

petlibro automatic cat feeder
The PETLIBRO was the only feeder knocked over during our sand bag test, but we still feel it's stable enough for all but the rowdiest cats.

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Maximum Capacity: 4 or 6 liters | Dimensions: 7.5 x 7.5 x 12 inches | Weight: 4.74 pounds | Food Type: Dry

Best with Wi-Fi: WOPET 6L Automatic Cat Feeder with WiFi

4.5
WOPET 6L Automatic Cat Feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Useful app and notifications

  • Battery back-up

  • Precise portion control

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic bowl

  • Finicky Wi-Fi setup

While our testers found the WOPET 6L Automatic Feeder trickier to set up on a Wi-Fi network than our Best Overall pick, anyone looking for an app-connected automatic feeder will find it a viable alternative to the much pricier Whisker Feeder-Robot.

Described as "a little tricky" by one tester, the WOPET Automatic Feeder insisted on a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi connection rather than 5 GHz, but setup headaches were otherwise minor. While not quite as slick as our top pick, the WOPET app was easy to use, with an attractive interface.

The app allows for detailed control of feedings and is able to schedule up to 15 meals a day. You can adjust the portion sizes dispensed in 5-gram units and build weekly schedules. For example, you could set the WOPET Automatic Feeder to dispense meals during weekdays but not on weekends. The app will track when feedings are dispensed, and notify you if it runs low on food or if a meal is not dispensed because the bowl is already full.

The feeder is white and sleek, with a semi-opaque hopper that makes it easy to see how much of its substantial 6-liter capacity has been filled. But the minimal design may go a little too far for some, since you mostly have to rely on the app to operate the feeder—there are only three buttons on the feeder's front interface, one of which allows you to dispense a portion of food manually.

While we found the WOPET 6L Automatic Feeder to be reliable when testing scheduled and overnight feedings, in our first test, it only dispensed five pieces of kibble instead of a full serving. In subsequent tests it dispensed the correct amount on time, but it was a worrying introduction to a machine that must be trusted with our pet's health when we're away. We suspect that this isn't a chronic problem with the feeder and was only caused by newly loaded kibble not settling properly into the dispenser chute. We've found WOPET feeders to be consistently reliable when reviewing previous models but felt it was worth noting in this review.

The WOPET has several other useful features, including a battery back-up to ensure your pets are fed even if your house loses power. You can also make a recording of your voice calling your cats to their mealtime, a feature included in several other feeders we tested.

WOPET Automatic Feeder app
With the WOPET phone app you can check food reserves, see the back-up battery status, and schedule feedings.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 6 liters | Dimensions: 7.6 x 14 x 14.2 inches | Weight: 4.75 pounds | Food Type: Dry

Best for Wet Food: Cat Mate C500 Digital 5 Meal Dog & Cat Feeder

Cat Mate C500 automatic feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Ice packs to keep wet food edible longer

  • Useful for wet and dry food

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Batteries only, no outlet plug

Similar in design to our Portable pick (the PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal), the Cat Mate C500 Digital 5 Meal Dog & Cat Feeder uses a rotating, multi-compartment tray rather than dispensing food through a chute. This makes it ideal for semi-wet or wet food since you can load each compartment yourself and schedule when it's "revealed" to your cat or cats. But wet and canned cat food spoils more quickly than dry food and should be refrigerated after opening, making it harder to set out in advance. The Cat Mate C500 solves this problem by including two ice packs beneath the rotating tray.

While this makes the Cat Mate C500 useful for pre-loading wet food that might otherwise need refrigeration, it's still not a great option for serving wet food when you're away. We found that the two ice packs kept the food cold overnight but weren't long-lasting enough to extend past 24 hours.

Cat owners who are likely to find the Cat Mate C500 useful include anyone who is sick of their cat waking them up and would rather the cats adjust to waiting by the feeder for their scheduled mealtime. It could also be useful for scheduling a serving of food if you are going to be at work late.

The C500 can be programmed for up to 5 scheduled mealtimes, with each compartment holding 1.25 cups of food. Programming is straightforward, but one tester advised that users pay close attention that they're distinguishing a.m. and p.m. to avoid a missed meal.

The Cat Mate C500 is also easy to clean since the top cover and the food tray are dishwasher safe.

Cat Mate C500 interface
The Cat Mate C500 has a minimal interface, but our testers found it intuitive.

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Maximum Capacity: 1.7 liters | Dimensions: 12.2 x 11.89 x 3.7 inches | Weight: 14.8 ounces | Food Type: Wet or dry

Best for Maximum Food Storage: Faroro 7L Automatic Pet Feeder

4.5
Faroro 7L Automatic Cat Feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • High capacity

  • Touch interface on top

  • Battery backup for power outages

  • Precise portion controls

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic bowl

  • Mushy buttons

The Faroro 7L Automatic Cat Feeder holds more dry cat food than any feeder we tested, other than our Best Overall pick (and even the Whisker Feeder-Robot has a smaller capacity when using its insertable hopper), making it the best choice if you would prefer to refill your feeder as infrequently as possible.

Setting up the Faroro was easy, with instructions available in multiple languages and a decent LCD interface. The Faroro is shaped like a white tower, and unlike many other feeders, its programming buttons are on top of the device instead of the front. This is a convenient location that makes it easy to see the controls, but our testers felt a little let down by the touch buttons, which were a little mushy and small.

Still, these were minor design flaws in an overall robust package. Across multiple feedings, we found the Faroro to be reliable in both timing and portion sizes. It allows for detailed scheduling of up to four meals a day and can serve portions as small as two teaspoons. Plus, it includes features like a battery backup, so you can feel secure your cats will get fed when leaving them home alone.

faroro-automatic cat feeder testing
Our testers liked that the Faroro programming interface is on top of the device, though its buttons are a little small and mushy.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 7 liters | Dimensions: 9.65 x 8.27 x 15.12 inches | Weight: 4.45 pounds | Food Type: Dry

Best for Multiple Cats: PETLIBRO Granary Automatic Cat Feeder for Two Cats

4.2
petlibro automatic feeder for 2 cats

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Stainless steel bowls

  • Easy to program

  • Precise portion controls

  • Battery back-up

What We Don't Like
  • Hard to accurately adjust meal splitter

In previous versions of this roundup we recommended that owners of multiple cats check out the WellToBe Automatic Pet Feeder with Two-Way Splitter, which holds up to 20 cups of food and includes features like a voice recording and battery backup. After more comprehensive testing, we found the WellToBe operated effectively and dispensed food accurately. However, our testers disliked a number of design choices, including its short power cable, strange button placement, and how the two bowls don't snap on to the feeder, necessitating finicky adjustments.

Instead, our testers preferred the PETLIBRO Granary Automatic Cat Feeder for Two Cats. We believe it is the better pick for anyone who would prefer a feeder that provides a separate bowl for each cat. Plus, those separate bowls are both stainless steel, which we prefer to plastic bowls.

The PETLIBRO Granary looks a little like its namesake, with a round, silo design that reminded one tester of an air filter. The feeder has a locking lid that will keep your cats out, though one tester did find it a little too smooth to grip easily. Overall, we found the Granary to be among the easiest to set up of any device we tested, with intuitive programming on a digital display that presented useful information cleanly. You can program up to ten meals a day and can adjust portion control down to the tablespoon, with a maximum meal serving that's more than four cups of dry food.

The Granary has other useful features, including a battery back-up, manual feeding button, and the ability to record a short "come and get it" message to your cats. Similarly to the other PETLIBRO feeder we recommend in this roundup, you can also insert a desiccant bag in the kibble reservoir if there's a chance of high humidity spoiling the stored food.

The only downside our testers noted was the meal splitter, which can be adjusted to serve different sized portions to different bowls. In practice, we found it tricky to make precise adjustments. It was a minor flaw in a feeder that was otherwise a favorite of our testers.

PETLIBRO automatic feeder for two cats testing
It's a little tricky to adjust, but the PETLIBRO Automatic Feeder for 2 Cats can be set to serve more food to one bowl than the other.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 5 liters | Dimensions: 13.6 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 4.4 pounds | Food Type: Dry

Best Portable: PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder

4.8
PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Automatic Feeder
What We Like
  • All-in-one unit

  • Easy programming

  • Dishwasher safe carousel

  • Small and unobtrusive

What We Don't Like
  • Battery power only

  • Plastic food compartments

  • Limited programming options

Similar to our other PetSafe recommendation, the PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder uses four D-cell batteries instead of plugging into a wall. But unlike the larger six-meal feeder, this one has several features that would make it the perfect choice for anyone hoping to travel with their pets.

Most notable is the clever all-in-one design, which rotates to reveal the next portion of food on a set schedule rather than dispensing food into a separable bowl. This means you can't clean the bowl separately from the five-portion carousel, but it also makes the Eatwell a cinch to pick up and move around. This may not matter much if your feeder will occupy the same position in your kitchen for years, but anyone with reason to move the feeder around is sure to find its form factor convenient.

The cover of the PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder lifts up to reveal all five compartments and the otherwise hidden programming buttons. There's nothing fancy about the software interface, which uses a small LCD screen to program exact feeding times—rotating in up to four new meals during the day, with the schedule repeating in subsequent days. You can also suspend or restart feeding without losing your programmed schedule.

As with our other PetSafe pick, the 5-Meal doesn't provide a lot of flexibility and is best for pet owners who stick to a regular feeding schedule every day. But that simplicity was also a virtue, since more complicated machines left some testers wondering if they had properly set the feeder, which was never a problem with the straightforward PetSafe programs.

"It's a really solid cat feeder," one tester said, while indicating they would recommend it to a friend. "It's sturdy, well-designed, and is easy to assemble and use."

The five-section carousel is made from BPA-free plastic and is dishwasher safe.

petsafe eatwell 5-meal automatic cat feeder
The PetSafe Eatwell 5-Meal interface is located beneath the cover.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 5 cups | Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 18 inches | Weight: 3.28 pounds | Food Type: Dry

What Editors Say

"Our cat usually nibbles at her food little at a time throughout the day, so this automatic feeder is perfect for her when we're away for a few nights. We place two servings of dry food in each well, and program it to rotate at her regular meal times. That way, we're confident that she's getting a daily serving of food while we're gone. For longer trips, our cat-sitter also refills it, so she can drop by our apartment fewer times." – Margaret Badore, Senior Editor

Best Battery: PetSafe Six Meal Feeder

4.6
PetSafe 6-Meal Automatic Cat Feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Easy to program

  • Locking lid

  • 9 month battery life

  • Major components are dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic bowl

  • Limited programming options

The PetSafe Six Meal Feeder is battery-power only, using 4 D-cell batteries. While we generally feel that it's preferable for automatic cat feeders to have both the ability to plug into a wall outlet and a battery back-up (in case your house loses power while you're away), there's no denying the extra flexibility a battery-powered device can provide. Rather than being limited to a wall outlet, you can place the PetSafe Six Meal Feeder anywhere, allowing it to live wherever is most convenient. Plus, with a battery life of up to 9 months, there's very little risk of losing power while you're away, especially if you insert new batteries before a trip.

The PetSafe automatic feeder isn't the most fully featured feeder on this roundup, but its combination of easy programming, useful features, and tactile buttons makes it a sturdy, reliable option. Feedings can be programmed to any time of day (in 15-minute intervals) on the LCD screen. It's easy to set up to six different feeding times a day. Or, set one feeding time, and the PetSafe carousel will dispense one of its six meals into the bowl every day at that same time. There's also a separate button for dispensing a meal right away. Since you fill the six compartments individually, you determine the portions—up to one cup per meal.

While these basic options make programming easy, it also means the PetSafe feeder may not work for very specific meal plans. For example, if you need to feed cats at different times day-to-day, there's no way to do that since the PetSafe dispenses at the same time (or times) every day.

"Everything about it was straight to the point, and there wasn't anything particularly bad about it," one tester noted, characterizing the general consensus that the PetSafe Six Meal Feeder was a solid, no-frills option.

While primarily used for dry food, the PetSafe also works with semi-moist kibble, though testers did find that some kibble stayed behind after feedings were dispensed, and sometimes food stuck in such a way that it got in the way of easily closing the lid. Still, these were minor issues that didn't impair any of our tests of its scheduled operation.

Overall, we found the PetSafe Six Meal Feeder simple and easy-to-use, with features that make it a solid pick for anyone looking for a basic feeder. Plus, the BPA-free bowl and the food carousel are dishwasher safe, making it one of the easiest automatic feeders to clean.

PetSafe 6 Meal
As with other "carousel" feeders, PetSafe 6 Meal feeder requires that you portion out meals in advance.

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Maximum Capacity: 6 cups | Dimensions: 15.7 x 9.6 x 6.4 inches | Weight: 2.85 pounds | Food Type: Dry or Semi-wet

Best for Keeping Dogs Out: Sure Petcare SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder

4.7
Sure Petcare SureFeed microchip cat feeder

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

What We Like
  • Easy to program microchips

  • Included RFID tag

  • Training function acclimates your cat

  • Looks like something a cat on a space station might use

  • Comes with split bowl

What We Don't Like
  • Plastic bowl

  • Battery-powered only

  • Useful accessory is not included

The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder has a very different function than most automatic cat feeders. Instead of regulating your cat's food schedule and ensuring they are fed whenever you are not at home, the SureFeed is more like a cat food gatekeeper.

Rather than relying on a timer, the SureFeed is designed to restrict access to specific cats, identified either by their microchip or by an included RFID tag that you can hang from your cat's collar. This makes it ideal for pet owners with multiple cats on different diets. For example, if one cat has a special diet and eats separate food, the SureFeed can ensure that no other cats in the household will eat it. It's also a great way to make sure only your cat eats the cat food, and not your dog. While it's hard to imagine scenarios where you'd need this many, the SureFeed can be programmed to identify up to 32 cats.

The SureFeed is impressive to watch work, with a smooth, futuristic sliding door that peels back like the cockpit of a spaceship when your cat approaches. Plus, it's easy to use: our testers had it set up and working with the RFID tag in about five minutes.

Because you add food to the SureFeed using its separate plastic bowl, it can work with wet or dry food. A split bowl that allows you to serve two separate portions at the same time is also included. The feeder's covered design has the additional benefit of protecting food from flies, tamping down smells, and generally keeping wet food fresher.

Our testers did note a few downsides to the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder. For one, the bowl is a little small. It's not really a device that you can pile several days worth of food into and forget about. Instead, it's more specifically for actively managing a cat's diet. Also, it operates on 4 C cell batteries, and doesn't have a plug. Since it has a six-month battery life (and a flashing battery indicator), this isn't much of an obstacle, but it would have been nice to have the option of using an outlet.

Maybe the biggest downside is the open back. While the SureFeed effectively prevents more than one cat from using it—quickly closing after the identified cat leaves the bowl—a really determined dog could probably figure out a way around its defenses. A rear cover is available to keep out persistent moochers, but it's a bummer paying an extra $33 for something that could have been built in to the device.

Our testers felt that all of the issues they identified were minor. The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder is excellent at what it's designed to do. While this cat feeder only works for very specific scenarios, it handles that scenario with aplomb.

SureFeed Sure Petcare Microchip Feeder
The SureFeed Microchip Feeder comes with a split bowl that lets you dish up dry and wet food at the same time.

The Spruce Pets / Leticia Almeida

Maximum Capacity: 13.5 ounces | Dimensions: 7.875 x 9 x 12.625 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Food Type: Dry and Wet

Final Verdict

Our favorite automatic cat feeder is the Whisker Feeder-Robot, which holds lots of food, allows for precise programming, and has our favorite app of any tested feeder, allowing you to easily set meals and monitor your cat's eating habits while you're away. Our former favorite, the PETLIBRO Automatic Cat Feeder, is still a great budget option for many cat owners.

If your cats primarily eat wet food, you have fewer options, but we recommend the Cat Mate C500 Digital 5 Meal Dog & Cat Feeder, which uses ice packs to keep wet food cool.

How We Tested Automatic Cat Feeders

We tested 13 automatic cat feeders in The Lab in Industry City, Brooklyn. After timing unboxing and setup, we programmed each feeder to deliver multiple meals throughout the day, overnight, and into a second day of testing. We monitored to see if feeders were dispensing food on time.

Our volunteer testers made both objective and subjective judgments throughout testing, not only measuring for accurate portions and feeder capacities, but also providing ratings (out of 5) for multiple aspects, using a scoring methodology written in advance. We looked in particular for our tester's design impressions, plus their thoughts on useful features, programming interfaces, software, and how easy each device was to clean.

After testing, we asked testers for more insights into each feeder, including whether they'd recommend it to a family member and what they would want to change most about the product. Once testing in our lab was complete, feeders were mailed out to additional testers for at-home testing with their cats.

What to Look for in an Automatic Cat Feeder

Size 

There are two main size considerations when it comes to automatic cat feeders: capacity and footprint. Overall capacity varies widely from feeder to feeder, which is a key consideration if you want to use an automatic cat feeder to keep your cats fed while you're traveling. While the amount of dry food cats eat can depend on their specific diet, a half-cup per day is fairly standard. Many of our recommended picks can hold 5 liters or more of dry food, which could feed a single cat for more than a month before you would need to refill. Other feeders have separate compartments that you load in advance—those models typically have a much lower overall capacity.

Another consideration is how much space you want to cede to an automatic feeder. Our top overall pick is quite large, and would be hard to miss in a kitchen. Other recommended feeders will take up less floor space.

Features 

Our recommended feeders range from barebones models that offer basic options for scheduling meals in advance to fully-featured devices with phone apps and Wi-Fi connectivity. Our favorite features to look for include: battery back-ups (in case your house loses power while you're away), stainless steel bowls (which are dishwasher safe and usable for cats with plastic sensitivities), and clear reservoirs that allow you to see at a glance how much kibble is left. Other features were less important to our testers, or even felt like a gimmick, such as the ability to record a voice message. In our experience, cats quickly learn when they're going to be fed and hardly need prompting.

Ease of Use

Since the interface for programming a feeding schedule is completely different from feeder to feeder, we've tried to give the best sense possible of how easy or hard each feeder was to program. Ease of use comes from a combination of intuitive interface and helpful information displays. For most feeders, this means programming buttons and a small LCD screen, but several of our picks can also be programmed through a phone app. We preferred feeders that offered both options.

FAQ
  • How do automatic cat feeders work?

    Automatic cat feeders are either battery or plug-in powered devices that hold and distribute cat food at certain times of the day. Similar to an automatic coffee maker, automatic cat feeders have programmable settings for cat owners to customize meal time.

    Feeders with a tank have a timer inside the feeder that causes a door to open and dispense a set amount of food from a container into a bowl below. This little door shuts once the pre-programmed amount of food has been allowed to fall into the bowl and secures the remaining food in the container. Other feeders have a round tray design, with several small compartments and lid that's open to just one compartment at a time. At the set time, the tray rotates to the next compartment. Both designs prevent your cat from getting to the food and helps keep the food fresh until meal time.

  • Can multiple cats share the same feeder?

    While multiple cats may have no problem sharing a dish that is kept full at all times, sharing a bowl on an automatic feeder can be problematic. Since only a certain amount of food is provided at each meal, one cat may end up eating all the food while the other cats end up not getting any. Not all cats will be as motivated to eat as soon as the food drops out of the feeder, so slower cats may miss meals if a quicker cat gets to the bowl first.

    If your cats have feeding habits that aren't conducive to sharing a bowl, consider a separate feeder for each cat. There are also feeders that dispense food into two separate bowls, including one recommended in this roundup.

  • How much food can an automatic cat feeder hold?

    Some automatic cat feeders hold several pounds of food, while others only hold a few cups. Less expensive models typically only hold a few meals worth of food, and more costly options may hold over 3 pounds of food. To help you compare models, we've provided the maximum capacity in cups or liters for each of our recommended feeders. While it may seem as though it would be better for a feeder to hold larger amounts of food, smaller containers may help food stay fresh since they'll be refilled more frequently. 

Why Trust The Spruce?

This roundup was written by Andrew Whalen, an editor for The Spruce Pets with hours of experience testing pet products in our labs. Andrew lives with two rescue cats, Church and Wally, who have wildly different feeding schedules and eating habits. Their input and emotional support was crucial to the automatic cat feeder testing process.

A previous version of this roundup was written by Adrienne Kruzer, a Registered and Licensed Veterinary Technician in three states who has been writing on pet and vet topics for over a decade. She has a special interest in animal nutrition, providing a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge that proved invaluable in making the best possible product recommendations.

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