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Pet Tech

The best automatic cat feeders to keep your pet fed while you're away

Dinner is always served on time with an automatic feeder.
By Caitlin McCormack  on 
All products featured here are independently selected by our editors and writers. If you buy something through links on our site, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

If there's one thing cats love, it's food. Honestly, they probably love food more than they love us. However, we can't always be at their side to feed them at mealtime, as much as we wish we could be.

If your cat has become accustomed to regular meal times throughout the day and your schedule doesn't quite line up with that, an automatic feeder is a smart investment to keep your cat fed without creating a disturbance. While we can't guarantee that an automatic feeder will help your cat be cool with you leaving them home alone — you might consider getting them a gift to help with that — at least you can rest assured that they won't go hungry while you're gone.

What to consider when buying an automatic cat feeder

Whether you’re looking for a no-frills, basic gravity feeder, or a full-fledged product to program perfectly timed and portioned meals, we’ve found the best automatic cat feeder options to fit your (and your kitty’s) needs. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Wet or dry food: Which food type does your cat usually eat? Wet dispensers will require daily cleaning and more attention than dry food feeders.

  • Your cat's needs: While automatic feeders should never be a replacement for human interaction, consider your and your cat's routines. Would the feeder be useful for days when you're busy in meetings, or are you planning to leave the house for a while? If it's the latter, your feline friend could develop separation anxiety(opens in a new tab) so it's important to pick one that best suits their needs (like one that allows you to leave voice recordings).

  • Overall functionality: If you'll be using the feeder often and have a dishwasher, look for dishwasher-safe containers or bowls so you aren't stuck hand-washing each week. If you're someone who often mixes up times, pick a programmable feeder that will remember for you. If your cat will continue to snack all day long, opt out of a gravity feeder and go for one that dispenses a specific amount of food.

So, which automatic cat feeder is best?

Imagine being able to sleep in late without cats pawing at your face because they're hungry, or working overtime without feeling guilty about missing kitty's mealtime. With one of the best automatic cat feeders, you can make that a reality, and your cat will most certainly thank you for it.

To help you figure out which option is right for you, we researched the internet's favorite models and hands-on tested others, breaking them down based on the features cat owners care about most. Find the best automatic cat feeder for you and your cat in 2023 right here.

For single or multi-cat homes, the PetSafe Simply Feed(opens in a new tab) allows pet parents to program up to 12 different daily meals, ranging in size from one-eighth of a cup to four cups. The large capacity hopper holds up to 24 cups of dry or semi-moist food at a time, which should last most felines quite a while before needing to be refilled. 

One standout feature that cat owners will love is the slow-feed option. This mode dispenses your cat’s food over a period of 15 minutes, which helps prevent your kitty from bingeing and then vomiting their meal. There’s also an immediate feed button that allows you to give your feline a little nibble in between their regularly scheduled mealtimes.

It comes with its own bowl and stand, which attaches to the feeder, but you can also use it with your kitty’s favorite dish. The pet-proof dispenser keeps prying paws out, and food fresh. The majority of the parts are top rack dishwasher-safe and are made of BPA-free plastic and stainless steel. 

The Good

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This feeder does it all, even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some other automatic feeders. Be sure to read our full review of the Wopet feeder. It controls the portion size of each feeding (which can be scheduled up to four times a day), lets you leave a voice-recorded message for your pet letting them know it's time to eat, and looks good while doing it. 

The design of this Wopet(opens in a new tab) dispenser is different from most. Its sleek white exterior won't clash with your decor, and its narrow shape will fit just about anywhere. And don't worry about the power going out while you're away: This dispenser has a backup battery system, though batteries aren't included.

The feeder also has infrared sensors that stop the dispenser if there's already food in the bowl. This helps keep your cat's food fresh and prevents food from spilling or getting backed up.

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If you have an extra special kitty who requires a prescribed diet or is on a weight-management program, this automatic cat feeder(opens in a new tab) is the one for you. It’s super high-tech, and uses an RFID collar system to only open and dispense food to the correct kitty (especially important when you have more than one cat in the house). It is also compatible with any implanted microchip for added convenience. This way, your cat gets their special food, while any other pets are access-denied. Since the SureFeed Microchip Feeder can store up to 32 microchip identifications, there’s plenty of space to store all your cats. 

It’s also an excellent choice if your cat requires medications to be dispensed during the day. Because the lid is sealed, it keeps flies, ants, and other yuckies out of your cat’s food, and is ideal for serving up wet food without drying out. It can also handle dry food as well. The batteries should last for up to four months of daily use, and the low battery indicator will let you know when it’s time to change them.

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This robot-shaped Iseebiz feeder(opens in a new tab) is great for smaller cats (or other small pets) who don't need too much food to be dispensed per meal. It can hold enough food to feed your pet for up to 15 days with optimal portion control and it's rather fairly priced for having all the perks of other, more expensive feeders. It has an IR detector to prevent clogging and overflowing, and its screw-lock design keeps food fresh inside while simultaneously keeping curious pets out. Best of all, you can create an optional 10-second recording that will call your pet to the feeder when it's time to eat, even when you can't be there to do it yourself.

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Pet parents can enjoy all the convenience of the best automatic cat feeder without the hefty price tag, thanks to this unit. The PetSafe 5-Meal Automatic Feeder(opens in a new tab) features five chambers that can hold up to one cup of food in each spot. Because of its covered, spinning design, it can be used with both wet and dry foods of varying shapes and sizes — there’s also nothing to get jammed, unlike with hopper-style feeders. You can set a schedule for the feeder to rotate at the same time every day.

The BPA-free, dishwasher-safe food tray makes for easier cleanup. Keep in mind that while there are five chambers, one will be available to your cat right away. The spinning system is nice, as you can check how much food your kitty has (or hasn’t) eaten at the end of the day. 

Because of its compact and lightweight design, this feeder is also a great pick for when you have to travel with your cat and want to keep them on their regularly scheduled meals. Even if you aren’t super tech-savvy, this feeder is easy to program. 

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We recently had a chance to put the Cat Mate C3000 Automatic Dry Food Pet Feeder(opens in a new tab) through its paces, and were pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to assemble, program, and get started. Best of all, the top hopper can easily hold up to a week’s worth of your pet’s food, making it ideal for when you have to go away on a long weekend and can’t bring them along. We loved that everything except the base that houses the electronics is dishwasher safe, making for quick and easy cleanups. One downside we found was that its feeding units might not be 100% accurate depending on the size of your kitty’s kibble. It says 3 feeding units is equal to about a quarter cup of food, but when we measured the dispensed meal it was actually more than that – something to double check if your pet is on a weight management diet like ours. 

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With the Petlibro programmable pet feeder(opens in a new tab), you can schedule up to four meals per day and up to nine small portions per meal so that your feline friend always gets the right amount of dry cat food — no more, no less. It has a capacity large enough to keep most cats fed for up to 25 days before it needs to be refilled, and its secure lid-lock design ensures that food stays fresh inside even if the cat feeder gets knocked over. The automatic feeder also allows you to record a 10-second clip that will play when feeding time is on, so you can reinforce the bond between you and your cat even when you can't physically be there. Plus, it has a battery backup in case of power outages, though the batteries are not included.

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If you’re looking for the best automatic pet feeder to truly keep wet food fresh, this is the feeder you’ll likely want. It’s got five food compartments that hold up to 11.5 ounces of wet food, plus two ice packs to keep that food actually cold and fresh so that your pet isn’t eating food that’s begun to spoil. 

The Cat Mate Automatic Digital Pet Feeder(opens in a new tab) is easy to program, thanks to a built-in LCD screen so your pets can eat at precise times. It’s also got a close-fitting, tamper-proof lid to keep even the most determined cats and dogs from getting their paws on an early feeding time. It also takes 3 AA-batteries, which are easier to find than D batteries — the type of battery used by other feeders on this list — and generally those batteries will last up to 12 months with this feeder. The bowls in the feeder are also removable for easier cleaning in the dishwasher. 

The only significant drawback to this feeder is that it works best for small dogs or cats — you’ll likely want something with bigger portions than 1.45 cups if you have a large breed dog.

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How we tested

How we chose

While we haven't hands-on tested all of these automatic cat feeders, we put forth hours of careful research to find a variety of quality automatic cat feeders, and specifically sought out options to cater to different use cases.

First, we prioritized automatic cat feeders from well-known brands to come up with a list of options that are widely regarded to be dependable and well-made, with customer service and warranties to match. We then narrowed down the field by focusing on items that were well-rated and had no glaring issues with their functionality (at least not that we could find among a large portion of user reviews). Each of the automatic cat feeders on this list has hundreds, if not thousands, of automatic cat feeder reviews—a generally reliable sign that the product is often in stock and available for purchase.

To ensure a varied range of options for different types of pet parents, there were a number of factors that we took into consideration while researching automatic cat feeders, including:

  • Capacity: One of the benefits of an automatic cat feeder is that it takes the hassle out of having to feed your kitty multiple times a day. If you’re constantly refilling the hopping, it sort of defeats the purpose. The best automatic pet feeders can easily hold a week’s worth of food and have a tightly sealed system to keep it fresh. 

  • Cost: While most of these automatic cat feeders fall in the $100 range, we wanted to include options for shoppers who were looking for a more budget-friendly (but still high-quality) item, as well as those who were looking to treat their feline companion with a splurge-worthy gadget with all the bells and whistles.

  • Ease of programming: An automatic cat feeder should be easy enough to program (and adjust) that you won’t throw in the towel halfway through and just go back to delivering every meal to your precious feline yourself. The best models had intuitive controls and were easy to adjust. 

  • Multipet functionality: For homes with more than one cat, having the option to program an automatic cat feeder to recognize different dietary needs is essential. 

  • Clean up process: Cats might keep themselves fastidiously clean, but that’s not always the case for their food area. The ability to pop their feeder (including hopper and bowl) into the dishwasher for quick and easy cleanup is a must for busy pet parents.

Frequently Asked Questions

The younger a cat is, the easier it will likely be to train them to get used to an automatic cat feeder, but a cat of any age should acclimate relatively well. It's food, after all, so even if they're apprehensive of the fancy new robot hanging out in their feeding area, they will eventually eat when they get hungry enough. That said, there are a few tips and tricks to help the process move along smoothly:

  • Remember that cats love routine and familiarity, so don't be surprised if your cat turns up their nose at the new device. Give them time to get used to the automatic feeder's presence — especially if it makes noise — and let them sniff and examine it for as long as they need to get comfortable.

  • If your cat is not already adjusted to a regular feeding schedule, try getting them into that routine first. If they're used to having a bowl of food available to them at all times, an automatic cat feeder will come as quite a shock.

  • Don't remove your cat's current food bowl from the area; keep it near the automatic feeder so they can still get some food even if they're a little skittish around the new device. Leave out both the old bowl and the new feeder for a few weeks, decreasing the food in the old bowl while increasing the food in the automatic cat feeder.

  • Keep as close of an eye on your cat's behavior around the food bowls as you can. When they are eating primarily from the automatic feeder, you can start to take away their old pet food bowl for good.

  • A surefire way to coax your cat to the automatic feeder is by placing some of their favorite treats in it.

The most important thing to remember as you train your cat to eat from an automatic cat feeder is that you can’t expect to plop the automatic feeder in front of your cat and immediately run off for a weekend away. This process will take a little time and patience, so be sure to plan ahead and give them lots of reassurance and cuddles along the way.

Even with the best automatic cat feeders, you should still hire a pet sitter to scoop your feline’s litter box or boarding facility to keep an eye on your four-legged friend if you're jetting out on vacation.

The best automatic cat feeders are ideal for dry cat food, and are typically sealed pretty well to keep the dry food from getting stale over time. Kibble of just about any size or shape should fit well inside and dispense properly from the feeder without clogging or overflowing.

Since the nature of an automatic pet feeder relies on the fact that cat food will be sitting out for a while, most automatic cat feeders are not designed to house wet food or semi-moist food, both of which can spoil easily in a few hours’ time. However, some pet feeders are designed with a cooling mechanism to make wet food delivery possible.

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