Smartphone- and Wi-Fi-connected
Ideal for cats or dogs
Prone to overfeeding
We purchased the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Pet Feeder so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, but you can pass one task off thanks to automatic cat feeders like the PetSafe Smart Feed. The food dispenser aims to take away the problem of rushing home to feed your pet on time so that you never wonder whether you fed the cat or not. It can also solve the problem of over- or under-feeding pets, by dishing out the same amount of feed each time. I tested the feeder with my four-year-old cat named Mila to see if it’s worth its high price.
Setup Process: Quick via Wi-Fi and the app
After removing the components from the box, it’s recommended that you wash and dry the parts before assembling. Once the feeder is plugged in (you can also add four D-batteries as a backup, which will continue feeding for seven days after a power outage), the rest of the setup is through the Smart Feed app, available on the Apple and Google Play app store.
I found the app setup to be quick and simple. The onscreen instructions guided me completely through the process and asked a few questions about me and my pet. I was impressed with how quickly the feeder connected via Wi-Fi. And rest assured, if you lose Wi-Fi, the feeder will continue to work on schedule, but notifications and settings won’t be available until it comes back.
The feeder only works with dry or semi-moist food, so if your pet eats wet food, you’ll have to put that into the bowl yourself. My cat only eats dry food, so I poured that into the hopper, which holds up to 24 cups of food (with how little my cat eats, I won’t have to refill for around a month).
As my first scheduled meal at 6:30 p.m. rolled around, I anxiously sat watching with my cat to see how it would work, and so I could see how my cat reacted. I heard the machine whirl on—and then nothing. No food fell into the bowl. A few seconds later, a notification popped up on my phone: “Your pet has been fed!” Not quite.
I’d forgotten the important step of priming the feeder, which can be done by pressing the manual food button until food dispenses. Don’t forget this step when refilling the hopper, either.
After sending food through the machine manually via the button and retesting, it worked as expected (and has every feeding since).
Design: Large, modern feeder
The feeder comes in one color: dark navy blue with silver accents. The overall design is quite sleek and streamlined. The bowl is big enough to feed both cats and dogs. And, depending on the size of the space you have, I think the entire feeder is just a little too big, too. If you have a designated place to put it, it will look just fine, but mine is conspicuous and left out in view of the entire living room.
One benefit of its size is that because it’s so large, my cat doesn’t get food on the floor as she has with smaller bowls. I also like that the stainless steel bowl is secured to the dispenser, so overeager pets can’t push it out of the way.
If you have especially curious pets, you’ll be happy to hear that the pet-proof design keeps paws from being able to access the food, either from the dispenser or the lid.
Programming: Choose amount and schedule via app
The PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Feeder is controlled entirely via the Smart Feed app. Through the app, you can set meal portions from ⅛ cup up to 4 cups. They can be scheduled throughout the day at 15-minute intervals, up to 12 feedings a day. You don’t need to be near the feeder to schedule feedings, and I like that it can be controlled even if I’m not home.
My cat is the only animal in the house (and she’s not as ravenous as other cats I’ve had), so I’m able to feed her once in the evening, and it lasts her until the next day. There’s a bit of a learning curve while adjusting the timing and amount to your cat’s preference, and I found that I struggled quite a bit with adding too much food to her bowl.
I was happy to learn that most of the parts are dishwasher safe: the lid, hopper, and metal bowl.
This was my biggest issue with using an automatic feeder—the inability to monitor and self adjust the amount fed easily, without adjusting via the app. I found myself going into the app often to delete upcoming meals. I wish the app allowed me to “pause” meals for the day, rather than delete them completely.
I selected the option to receive feeder notifications, which you can turn on for successful feeds, errors, or both.
Pet Interaction: Positive
Mila took to the feeder quickly. While she wasn’t deterred, the sound of the food pouring into the bowl can be loud, so decide whether your pet will be excited or scared off by the sound of the pellets on metal.
Helpful Features: Loads of extras
The PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder comes with a lot of features that make feeding and caring for your pet easier.
There are two additional feeding modes: Feed Now and Slow Feeder. The button on the top of the feeder lets you give your pet a “snack” manually, and it dishes out ⅛ cup of food. There is even a child lock feature that can be turned on via the app, which shuts off this feature if you have little ones who enjoy pressing buttons. The Slow Feeder option dispenses out food evenly over 15-minute increments. I love the idea of this feature for too-fast eaters, as it can help with digestion.
If you have multiple pets (and trust they won’t steal each other’s food), you can purchase a two- or three-way Splitter Adapter, which will siphon the food evenly into additional dishes.
If you want even more features, consider the second-generation version of this feeder. While it looks nearly identical, the new model is more expensive and comes with a few extras like compatibility with Amazon Echo. It will also notify you when the feeder is low, and you can automatically order more food through Amazon Dash Replenishment.
Ease of Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
I was happy to learn that most of the parts are dishwasher safe: the lid, hopper, and metal bowl. The conveyer portion can be washed by hand. The base unit should never be submerged in water, as it contains the battery compartment and electrical components.
Price: A high-end feeder
At around $180, this is one of the most expensive feeders on the market. I found others with similar features for less than $100. These cheaper options are not often connected to phones via Wi-Fi, however. Some of these also come from brands with less name recognition than PetSafe—and when it comes to my pets, I always want the best.
PetSafe Smart Feed vs. PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed
For about $80 dollars less, PetSafe sells another similar product. The PetSafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Feeder, which we’ve also tested, works very similar to the Smart Feed option, including the same portion sizes, scheduling, and slow feeder and feed now options.
The main difference is that all of these instructions are completed from a panel on the feeder itself. It does not connect to Wi-Fi and is not programmable via the app. It’s also completely battery-operated, or you can purchase an adapter separately. In my opinion, the design is less modern. Whether the extra money to control the feeder from your phone is worth it depends on your lifestyle (Will you be gone often? Will you feel more comfortable receiving the feeding notifications? etc.).
Go for it!
Sure it’s expensive, but if you’re looking for an advanced automatic smart feeder, the PetSafe Smart Feed is one of the best for its safety and convenience features. I love that I can control my cat’s meals from my phone no matter where I am, and I feel safe knowing that if I need to leave for the day, my pet will still be fed.
- Product Name Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder
- Product Brand PetSafe
- SKU PFD00-15788
- Price $184.99
- Weight 5.65 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 20.3 x 9.4 x 12.6 in.
- Compatibility iPhone or iPod devices iOS 9 or later, and most Android smartphones 5.0 or later
- Battery Life 7 days (used as backup only)
- Warranty 1 year, limited