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The 8 Best Automatic Feeders for Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs thrive on routine, but long workdays and hectic schedules can make it nearly impossible to keep mealtimes consistent. Automatic pet feeders dispense the perfect amount of food at scheduled times so you never have to worry about rushing home to feed your beasts.

Even better, if your pet is among the more than 50 percent of cats and dogs in the United States that are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, then an automatic pet feeder may help them get back in shape. You can program the feeder to dispense perfectly measured portions. Unlike humans, pet feeders never get swooned into extra helpings by those “puppy dog eyes,” nor can they be tricked into giving a second dinner, as often happens when family members fail to communicate that the pet’s already been fed.

You can choose from several types of feeders to meet your pet’s mealtime needs. Smart feeders allow you to modify your pet’s meal schedule remotely and even dispense snacks from your phone, and some even have a built-in camera so you can drop-in on your pet anytime. Other feeders don’t use an app, but have handy capabilities like keeping wet food chilled, or allowing access for a specific pet using microchip identification.

Best Automatic Pet Feeders

The Expert: When I’m not testing, reviewing, and obsessing over pet products, I’m spending time with my three besties: dogs Matilda and Cow, and Sabrina the cat. Like you, I’m a picky pet parent who always wants the best for my four-legged family members. As I tested some of the most popular pet feeders, I looked for specs and features that would make mealtimes easy for you and enjoyable for your pet.

What to Consider with Automatic Pet Feeders

Food type

The majority of automatic feeders work best with dry kibble, but a select few can serve up canned, raw, or cooked food. Wet food can sit out at room temperature for up to four hours, but if you will be away for longer than that, you’ll need a feeder that can be equipped with an ice pack to keep food fresh all day.

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Capacity

Once opened, dry pet food can go stale, even if stored in the reservoir of a feeder. Your pet’s feeder needs to hold no more than three to six weeks of food. There are approximately four cups of food per pound of dry food, depending on the size of the kibble. For “only child” cats and dogs that weigh under 25 pounds, you might buy the small (4 to 6 pound) bags of food every few weeks, which fit neatly in feeders that hold 24 cups.

Controls

Some automatic feeders have buttons so you can set them manually, while others are programmed with a smartphone app. The manual controls are ideal if you’d like any family member, friend, or pet sitter to change the settings without downloading an app, but an app allows you to control the feeder and get alerts from your phone when you’re not home. Most of these pet feeders have back-up battery power options so you won’t have to worry if your furry friend will be fed during a power outage.

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How We Evaluated These Automatic Pet Feeders

Each of the pet feeders recommended here have been awarded four-star reviews or better from pet parents like you. I also tested feeders with my own dogs and cat to see how those high-tech features translated to real-life use. While the extra bells and whistles didn’t necessarily impress my pets, they really can make a difference in simplifying your routine. These are the premium pet feeders that met my high standards for reliability, ease of use, and affordability. There are basic yet reliable options starting at about $20 to the most expensive “Best Overall” pick that’s teeming with time-saving features.

Best Overall

Whisker Feeder-Robot

  • Both manual and smartphone controls
  • Dishwasher-safe bucket and bowl
  • Built-in backup battery
  • Anti-jam technology so no missed meals

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: Up to 32 cups or 7 to 8 lb. of dry kibble
  • Controls: Manual and Smartphone app
  • Power Source: Power Cord with Backup Built-in Lithium Battery

The Feeder-Robot comes from Whisker, the makers of Litter-Robot. It has several standout features including a built-in lithium ion backup battery. Other feeders require batteries to ensure your pets get fed in the event out of a power outage, but the Feeder-Robot’s built-in battery holds a charge that lasts up to 24 hours. It also offers unmatched flexibility, with a control panel that allows manual scheduling as well as a smartphone app with extended features, like monitoring if your pet is finishing their meals, offering alerts to low food supply, and dispensing snacks.

Best Budget Option

PetSafe Healthy Pet Food Station

  • Low price
  • No power needed
  • Stainless steel bowl
  • May promote overeating in some pets

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: Small, 8 cups or 2 lb.; large, 16 cups or 4 lb.
  • Controls: None
  • Power: None

The Healthy Pet Food Station from PetSafe has a removable stainless steel bowl that refills from the reservoir with the power of gravity—no cords or batteries needed. It’s ideal if your pet likes to graze throughout the day but might not work for those pets that can’t be trusted to self-regulate. The reservoir offers some protection from air, moisture, and debris, helping to keep your pet’s food fresh.

Compatible with Amazon Alexa

PetSafe Smart Feed

  • Dishwasher-safe components
  • Slow feeding mode
  • Amazon Alexa-compatible
  • Meals can only be scheduled through app

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: 24 cups or one 6-lb. bag
  • Controls: Smartphone App, Amazon Alexa
  • Power Source: Wall adapter; optional battery backup (4 D batteries not included)

The Smart Feed from PetSafe is packed with thoughtful features, yet it’s not too complex to use or to set up. It’s controlled through the free PetSafe app, which requires you to connect to your home’s Wifi. Using the app, you can schedule up to 12 meals per day. If you want to give your pet an impromptu snack, just press the button on the top of the feeder (it can be disabled if your pet finds it!), go through the app, or simply say, “Alexa, give my pet a snack,” if you have it linked to an Amazon Echo.

Best With Manual Controls

PetMate Gamma 2 Nano Automatic Feeder

  • Airtight storage keeps food fresh
  • Internal scale ensures perfect portions

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: 28 cups or 7.5 lb.
  • Controls: Manual
  • Power Source: USB power supply and Micro USB plug with wall adapter; optional battery backup (4 AA batteries not included)

The Gamma 2 Nano Feeder may not have any smartphone or virtual assistant–compatible options, but it still offers modern, convenient features that make mealtimes easier. The LCD display may remind you of an alarm clock, with manual buttons to schedule mealtimes, set portion sizes, or give your pet a quick snack. You can even set it to “slow feeding mode,” in which it dispenses small amounts of food over 15 minutes to quell gulpers.

Keeps Fresh Food Chilled

Cat Mate Automatic Digital Pet Feeder

  • Includes ice packs
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Cordless
  • No smart features
  • Portions must be pre-measured

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry or Wet
  • Capacity: 0.75 lb. per meal, available as a 3-meal or 5-meal feeder
  • Controls: Manual
  • Power: 3 AA batteries (not included)

Feeding wet foods like canned, fresh cooked, or raw pet food can be a challenge if you’re not available to prep on your pet’s schedule. Moist food can be left out at room temperature for up to four hours before it becomes unsafe for your pet to eat, and even then, it’s susceptible to drying out or attracting bugs. The Digital Pet Feeder from Cat Mate keeps your pet’s food fresh until they’re ready to eat it, with two included ice packs to keep meals chilled.

Best for Multi-Pet Homes

SurePet SureFeed Pet Microchip Feeder

  • Works with microchip or included collar tag
  • Automatically covers food when pet moves away
  • Protects food from bugs, kids, and other pets
  • No meal scheduling or measuring

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Wet or Dry
  • Capacity: 14 oz.
  • Controls: Manual
  • Power Source: Requires 4 C batteries (not included)

While the SureFeed from SurePet does not dispense food, it does allow your pet to eat at their own pace without worry of staleness, bugs, or sneaky housemates. It’s ideal for households in which one pet eats a prescription food, or if one tends to polish off bowls that are not their own. The sleek cover opens silently when the correct pet approaches, identified by their microchip or the included collar tag.

Best Color Selection

Dogness Mini Smart Automatic Pet Feeder

  • Numerous smart features
  • Removable stainless steel bowl
  • Opaque food reservoir may make it harder to gauge food supply

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: “Mini” holds up to 2 lb. or 8 cups, original Smart Feeder holds 6 lb. or 24 cups
  • Controls: Smartphone app for iOS and Android
  • Power: USB power supply with wall adapter; optional backup battery (4 D batteries not included)

There’s a lot to love about the Dogness Smart Automatic Feeder, and the pastel pink and mint green options are love at first sight. Through the Dogness app, you can schedule feedings and set meal sizes, record your voice to call your pet for dinner, and even track leftovers. The app has a learning curve due to sometimes unclear instructions, but most reviewers were satisfied once they got the hang of it.

Doubles as Pet Cam

Arf Pets Smart Pet Feeder with HD Camera

  • Holds 29 cups of food
  • Dishwasher-safe bucket and bowl
  • Some reviewers had trouble with initial setup

Key Specs

  • Food Type: Dry
  • Capacity: Up to 29 cups or around 7 lb.
  • Controls: Smartphone app for iOS and Android
  • Power: Included DC wall adapter; optional backup battery (3 D batteries not included)

If you’re in need of both a pet camera and a feeder, you can save time, money, and space by opting for the two-in-one Smart Pet Feeder from Arf Pets. The built-in HD camera allows you to drop in on your pet and even has two-way audio so you can talk to them. Both camera and meal scheduling functions are controlled through the Arf Pets app so you can feed and monitor them from your phone anytime, anyplace.

Expert Lindsay Pevny on Pet Feeders: No, They’re Not Meant to Replace You, and, Yes, One Feeder is Fine for Multiple Pets

PM: What should pet parents know about automated pet feeders?

LP: These devices are not designed to replace you. While they’re great at keeping your pets fed on time, it’s best not to use them for every meal. Pets, especially cats, need moisture in their diet and dry kibble doesn’t provide that. When you’re home, offer high-moisture foods like wet food, or try additions like bone broth to keep your pets at their healthiest. Also, keep an eye on how much your pets are eating, as changes in appetite can be an early sign of a health issue.

PM: How do you keep an automatic pet feeder clean?

LP: Always clean the holding tank thoroughly between refills or every four weeks, whichever is sooner. Dry kibble has oils that can build up on the sides of any storage container and harbor bacteria that can make your pet sick. Don’t forget to clean every washable part, including the bowl. If you use it only during busy times or while you’re on vacation, make sure the feeder is clean and empty during long stretches without use.

PM: Can I use one automatic feeder for multiple pets?

LP: Any time you leave multiple pets alone with food, there’s a chance they may fight. If your pets are prone to resource guarding, you’ll need multiple feeders, ideally separated by a pet gate or in separate rooms. If you can trust your pets to share, some feeders, including the PetSafe Smart Feed, can be used with a splitter kit, sold separately. It comes with two bowls and a divider so your pets can dine together without crowding around one bowl.

PM: Does a feeder retain the settings you’ve programmed in if it’s turned off or you change batteries?

LP: If the feeder is unplugged but has backup batteries, or if it has smart features and requires WiFi access, it will retain your mealtime settings.

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