Automatic feeders are devices that allow you to feed your pet at selected times and frequencies when you are not at home. They are great solutions for people who are away from home most of the day and cannot feed their pets manually. They are excellent solutions if you have to travel on weekends and leave your pet at home. These devices have three basic components:
A hopper that holds the food that will be dispensed over a determined period of time. It is located on the upper part of the feeder.
A nozzle that channels the food from the hopper to the bowl.
A bowl for your pet to eat the food from.
How to use them
You basically have to do two things:
Program the desired food dispensing time and frequency.
Make sure to leave enough food in the hopper so it can dispense food for a couple of days.
Note that the instructions for using automatic feeders vary according to their operating systems.
Types of feeders and how they work
Automatic pet feeders with the following operating systems are available:
Programmable automatic feeders with timers, which allow you to set feeding amounts, times and frequencies. These feeders store the food required for feeding during the day in the hopper.
Feeders that work with gravity; the food is conducted to the bowl through the nozzle while your pet is eating. These feeders don't have timers and you cannot program either food amounts or feeding schedules.
Dish feeders, which have rotating compartments where the food is kept. Some of them have timers and others rotate at fixed intervals.
Box-type feeders, which work with a slot that opens at the preset feeding time.
What to consider before buying an automatic feeder
Whether you will use it for just one day or for several days. This is important because if you need to leave your pet at home for several days you will need a more reliable automatic feeder with enhanced performance.
The pellet size of your pet's food. Some automatic feeders don't work properly with some pellet sizes. Checking this point is critical.
Whether your cat is fat or normal weight. The reason for this is simple: if your cat is overweight and you need to put it on a diet, the feeder has to be able to dispense specific amounts of food at the scheduled feeding times.
How well disciplined is your cat with regard to food? If your cat is the type of pet that is never satisfied and is always trying to get more from the feeder, you should consider getting an automatic feeder with a well-protected nozzle system.
If you have one or more cats. If you need to feed two cats at the same time, you should consider a feeder capable of dispensing food several times a day to satisfy two cats that share the food each time (as long as your cats can eat together).
The type of food you feed your pet. If you use moist food, the solution is to purchase a dish-type automatic feeder. These feeders usually have ice packs to keep the food in good condition.