Whether you seek greater control over your cat’s food intake or simply want to keep them well fed while you’re away from home, an automatic cat feeder could be the ideal solution.
With its versatility and consistent performance, the Cat Mate C500 is our top pick for the best automatic cat feeder on the market. Though less advanced than some of our other recommendations, it functions well and is compatible with any type of cat food. Its rotating design keeps the food secure while the built-in ice packs keep it fresh.
In addition to our top recommendation, we’ve selected six more of the best automatic feeders you can buy. But before we jump into the reviews, let’s talk about what we looked for when choosing the best automatic feeders.
At a Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Automatic Cat Feeders
In the comparison table below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important features of each product. You’ll find more detailed information about each product later in the article.
Why Should You Trust Us?
We’ve researched, tested, and reviewed hundreds of cat products, including a range of pet tech and accessories like water fountains, toys, and feeders. We’ve consulted veterinary experts about potential health and safety concerns, and talked to animal behaviorists about what makes a product cat-friendly.
We’ve also read thousands of customer reviews and, with the help of our own cats, we got hands-on experience with most of the automatic cat feeders on this list.
How We Tested
We spent hours researching the different types of automatic cat feeders, exploring the various products on the market, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Most of the products on this list have been tested in depth by our experts.
Throughout the testing period, our experts observed various performance indicators such as portion accuracy, timing consistency, and malfunction frequency. Our experts have also made note of factors affecting user experience such as programmability, app connectivity, noise level, and more.
Top Picks Explained
Though we’ve recently added some new products to our list of top picks, you can see an in-depth video review detailing five of our favorite automatic cat feeders. Check it out below:
What Are the Qualities of the Best Automatic Cat Feeders?
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders Are Smooth and Quiet
Jamming and malfunctioning are constant realities when dealing with poorly designed automatic cat feeders. These feeders can’t handle the food you put in them, they malfunction, they clank and whirr, and ultimately, they don’t feed your cat.
We scoured customer reviews to ensure that all the feeders we’ve recommended work quietly and consistently with as few malfunctions as possible.
Great Automatic Cat Feeders Are Compatible With Your Cat’s Favorite Food
Make sure that your automatic feeder works with the type of food your cat likes. While top-of-the-line automatic feeders boast compatibility with every shape and size of kibble you can dump into them, you’ll have to do a little more research to find a feeder that’s compatible with wet or raw food.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders Are Secure, Ensuring That Your Cat Can’t Hack the System
A poorly designed automatic feeder is no match for a motivated and crafty cat’s desire to eat. Less secure automatic feeders are acceptable for laid-back cats. Those who are extremely food-driven will require a secure system that only humans can manipulate.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders Have a Large Food Capacity
Just as the best water fountains have a high water capacity, the best automatic feeders have large hoppers or compartments capable of storing a generous amount of food.
This is especially important if you plan to leave the house for a few days and are relying on the feeder to keep your cat fueled up while you’re away.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders Fit Your Budget
There’s an automatic feeder for almost every budget. Simple gravity-powered feeders are generally the cheapest choice, while automatic feeders with high-tech smartphone connectivity integrations will come at a higher cost.
Overall, automatic cat feeders range from $10 for basic low-end models to $250 for a cutting-edge unit.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders Have Reliable Power
Most automatic cat feeders plug into a power outlet and rely on your home’s electricity. To ensure that your cat continues to receive food in the case of a power outage, it’s important that the feeder is equipped with a backup battery. This will keep your unit alive when your home electricity can’t.
Conversely, some automatic cat feeders have no power cord and rely on a battery alone. Battery-dependent units should have a history of long battery life and reliability.
Here Are the Top 5 Types of Automatic Cat Feeders
While automatic cat feeders come in a variety of forms, there are five main types on the market. Each of them appeals to slightly different needs and will work best for a different type of cat owner. Let’s learn more about each.
1. Gravity-Based Automatic Cat Feeders
The simplest of automatic feeders, these units dispense food using nothing but the power of gravity.
They’re not timed, they’re not adjustable, and you can’t use them to watch your cat from around the world, but for some, they’re a convenient solution. These are ideal for dry feeders who want to manage their cat’s food intake while they’re out of town for the weekend.
As the most low-tech choice on this list, gravity-based feeders are also the most affordable.
These simple feeders work well if you’re on a budget, but they’re not the best choice for very food-motivated cats. If your cat is desperate to get food out of the feeder, these are some of the easiest for cats to “hack” or tip over.
2. Programmable Upright Automatic Cat Feeders
This type of feeder has the same hopper and dispensing design found in a gravity-based feeder, but it’s programmable, meaning that you can decide when it dispenses kibble and how much comes out at each feeding.
These feeders work well for people who want to manage their cat’s dry food intake according to a controlled schedule. Quality varies widely and you might find yourself with a feeder that jams or dispenses imprecisely. If you need to closely control your cat’s food intake, you may prefer the next type of automatic feeder.
3. Programmable Dish-Style Automatic Cat Feeders
These feeders work a little bit differently than the typical automatic feeder. They feature several food compartments and, according to a set schedule, expose the food hidden within the covered saucers.
Because they have a limited number of food compartments, this style of automatic feeder might not be the best choice for longer outings. Most will feed up to six meals before needing to be refilled.
That said, this type of feeder is the only one compatible with wet or non-kibble food. You can use these feeders to store canned or otherwise wet food for up to 24 hours.
While these feeders have a limited capacity, they’re a good choice for those who want to carefully control their cat’s food intake.
4. Smart Automatic Cat Feeders
These feeders connect to your smartphone, allowing you to control your cat’s feeder remotely. Many also feature webcams so you can watch your cat through their automatic feeder.
While exciting in theory, smart automatic cat feeders usually disappoint. You’re paying a high premium for, essentially, a webcam and the ability to change your programs when you’re not at home.
If those features sound interesting, an automatic feeder might be a fun addition to your gadget collection. But if you only care about making sure your cat’s fed while you’re away, a standard programmable feeder will work equally well.
5. Microchip Automatic Cat Feeders
Instead of dispensing food automatically, these feeders help you to keep meals separate among your cats and can also protect your cat’s food from a greedy dog.
While they’re not for every feline family, if you need to keep your cats’ food separate due to special dietary needs or gluttony, these feeders are the most low-hassle option available. They’re easy to use and usually do their job without glitches or hassle.
The Best Automatic Cat Feeders: Our Top 7 Recommendations
We’ve tested and reviewed a lot of automatic pet feeders over the years and new models are constantly being developed. Here are our current top 7 picks for the best automatic cat feeder.
Are Automatic Cat Feeders a Good Idea?
Automatic cat feeders promise a convenient way to make sure your feline friend stays well-fed and healthy whether you’re at home or on the go. But they’re not the right choice for every household. Here are a few of the benefits of automatic feeders and the best cat feeding station plus the signs that you should buy one.
An Automatic Feeder Ensures That Your Cat Receives Portioned Meals When You’re Not Home
For short trips and long days, an automatic cat feeder provides the portion control and meal management your cat needs. Unlike an ice cream pail overflowing with cat food, an automatic food dispenser ensures that your cat won’t gorge themselves or gain weight while you’re away.
If you feed wet food, a refrigerated dispenser is one of the best ways to feed your cat fresh or wet cat food while you’re away.
Additionally, automatic feeders are an effortless way to provide multiple small meals a day. As natural predators, cats in a natural environment might eat six meals a day. This eating routine can keep cats stimulated and may help to keep your cat satisfied, staving off the boredom and hunger pangs that may promote gorging and obesity.
Similarly, They’re Useful for Anyone Who Feeds Feral Cats Outdoors
If you feed feral cats outside, you probably know that cat food appeals to more than just the ferals – raccoons, skunks, neighborhood dogs, and other local animals love eating cat food. An automatic feeder dispenses cat-sized portions of food and sequesters the rest, ensuring that your outdoor cats get the food they need.
Cats Who Eat Too Quickly Can Benefit From a Slow Feeder
If your cat has a tendency to inhale their food and throw it up later, you know that eating too quickly is a real problem. Some automatic feeders are designed for cats who do this, moderating your cat’s eating speed and helping them to properly digest their food.
Automatic Cat Feeders Can Be Helpful, but They’re Not the Solution to Every Problem
Great automatic feeders can make your life easier. They free you from the need to feed your cat throughout the day.
They make sure your cat gets well-portioned meals when you’re not home. And if you choose the right one, they can help cats with special diets or shy personalities get the food they need.
But they’re no substitute for human care. Even the smartest automatic feeder can’t come close to replacing a good cat sitter. If you’re leaving the house for more than a day or two, you’ll still want to find someone to care for your cat while you’re away.