Automatic cat feeders can help you ensure your kitty is getting enough food when you go away over night or even for a day or two.
I have been lucky enough to have good neighbours who look after my two boys Byron and Shelley if I go away for a weekend. But it got me thinking as to what I would do if they couldn't step in and help out!
Also, if your cats are like mine, they like to eat several times a day. So what if my neighbour could only look in once a day to feed them? I know if they left one big bowl of food out to last the whole day, Shelley would probably scoff the lot in one go!
There are lots of different automatic cat feeders that can help with issues like these. But different ones might suit different kitties. So let's have a look at some of the types that are available.
Top of the range electronic feeders allow you to set the time of day for mealtimes and control the amount of food that is delivered each time.
You fill up the hopper with your pet's favourite choice of best cat food (always dry food for these machines) and a measured amount is dispensed into the feeding dish at the set times.
This means that even while you are away, you stay in control of how much food your cat eats and can therefore help with controlling their weight. Once each meal is finished, they won't get any more until the next mealtime.
The Petmate Le Bistro Programmable Feeder (5 lb Capacity) pictured here is an example of this type of feeder.
You can control the settings by using a simple digital display similar to an electronic alarm clock or microwave. The food hopper is see-thru so you can easily monitor how much food is in the machine, and it is made to be easy to clean with just warm soapy water.
There are other types of automatic pet feeders where you fill up the feeding dishes yourself with the desired amount of food for each meal.
Then at the times that you have set, the lid simply flips up or rotates round to uncover the food for your cat to eat.
The 2 Meal Feeder is an example of this type. Each compartment holds up to 1.5 cups of dry food and you can pre-programme it up to 48 hours in advance.
You can find other types, especially the rotating ones, which have compartments for five or six mealtimes.
Both the types I have mentioned so far are electronic and run on batteries, but there are other versions that simply use gravity to dispense the food.
This means that as the food is eaten out of the dish, more food will trickle down from the hopper above.
The Healthy Pet Food Station, from Petsafe is an example of this type, as you can see in the picture.
This might suit those cats who are good at self-regulating the amount of food they eat. But for kitties like my Shelley who seem to want to eat all day long, it might not be such a good idea (I have of course had Shelley checked out and no, there's nothing medically wrong with him ... he just loves eating!).
So which might be the best cat food dispenser for your home alone kitty?
I should have mentioned of course that all these cat feeders work with dry food! Wet food would mess up the works and would be more at risk of going bad as it's not kept in a fridge.
Some manufactures advertise their machines as being suitable for use if you go away for a whole week. Personally, I couldn't leave my two cats alone for that long without having someone check in on them at least once a day! What if there were any accidents or if they became ill?
There are other options of course, including paying for professional pet visiting services or putting your pet into a boarding cattery.
But if it's just for a day or overnight and as long as you provide supplies of fresh drinking water, lots of toys for entertainment and plenty of clean litter trays, then automatic cat feeders could really be a help.