How Do Cat Feeders Work? (Solved & Explained!)

Cats feeders work in three different ways. Some use a timer and allow you to set up a specific feeding schedule, for instance, dispensing pre-measured amounts at particular times. Others are simply set to open for one specific cat using a microchip or collar sensor, closing safely when that cat moves away to protect the food from other kitties. Lastly, gravity feeders work by free feeding as much kibble as cats can eat (great for feral cats).

For the remainder of this article, we’ll answer the questions that everyone is asking about when it comes to the functions and types of cat feeders available today. Read on to find out what you need to know to get the perfect feeder for your own kitty!

Are automatic feeders bad for cats?

Actually, automatic feeders are great for cats! With an overweight cat, you can easily set up a feeding schedule and your feeder will dispense exact amounts to help keep your cat on their new diet. If you have more than one cat, an automatic feeder with a magnetic key can make sure that everyone is getting fed.

The feed will open when a specific cat is close enough to eat and close when they walk away, keeping the other cats from bullying or stealing that cat’s food!

How does an automatic pet feeder work?

That really depends on the feeder. You have models that open and close based on a magnetic key, for instance, and others that simply dispense food on a pre-set schedule.

There are quite a lot of options, actually, so be sure to shop around – some of these feeders are really quite amazing and worth every penny that you’ll spend.

How does a gravity cat feeder work?

As the name implies, gravity feeders work with the simple principle of gravity, employing an overturned container that will drop food until it fills to a certain height. When your cat eats their food, the food inside the container is free to drop down, filling the bowl once more.

This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your cat’s eating habits, so a gravity feeder may not be a good fit for every kitty.

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How do microchip cat feeders work?

Microchip feeders are nice little wonders of technology. They work with a lightweight RFID tag that your place on your cat’s collar so that when your kitty gets close to their own feeder, the door will immediately open so that they can access the food.

When your cat is done eating or gets chased away by another cat in the house, the food door will close – keeping the other cat from bullying their housemate and eating all of their food!

How do I stop my cat from knocking over my automatic feeder?

Cats sometimes knock over their automatic feeds, usually by means of sticking their little paws up into the chute and trying to fish out extra food.

You can minimize the chances of this by placing the feeder in a corner so that it’s harder to knock down and a little double-sided tape on the bottom can help to keep it securely in place when you’re cat is ‘fishing’ for extra snacks.

Can cats live on dry food only?

Yes, dry food is fine – provided that your cat is getting enough nutrition. You want to be sure to read the ingredients to make sure that the food you select is high in protein and has 20 to 24% fat, which is the recommended daily percentage for your kitty.

Lower carbs are better if you can find them, but focus on the protein and fat the most as these will be essential for your kitty if they are on a strict dry food diet.

How long can you leave a cat with an automatic feeder?

While you could conceivably leave longer, it’s not recommended to leave your cat alone for more than 24 hours at a time. While you wouldn’t think it, cats are actually quite set in their daily routine, and you are a big part of that.

This means that your cat notices when you are gone, especially if it’s not at a time that they’ve come to expect. Too much time alone can stress out your cat, so even with the automatic feeder you should try to keep it at a minimum and enlist the help of a friend to keep them company if you’ll be away for awhile.

Can you put wet food in an automatic feeder?

That depends on the model. Certain feeders, such as the PetSafe Digital Two-meal feeder can provide both wet and dry food based on the schedule and options that you select.

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Just be sure when you purchase a feeder that you doublecheck, as some as definitely only designed for dry food and may become damaged if you put  wet food in them.

Will gravity feeder make my cat fat?

This is one of the caveats of the gravity feeder. If your cat likes to overeat, then you shouldn’t get one. A gravity feeder simply keeps refilling the bowl, with no schedule or rationing done. This means that your cat can eat as much as they like and definitely are at risk of obesity.

If your cat doesn’t eat lightly on their own, an automatic feeder is a much better fit to ensure that your cat stays at a healthy weight.

Can you put water in a gravity feeder?

Yes. Gravity feeders that are designed specifically for water just require that you attach a hose and they let gravity do the rest. The water stays at a specific level, until your cat drinks it, at which point the water will respond to the laws of gravity by filling up the bowl to the preset level.

How do you set an automatic cat feeder?

That will actually depend on the model. Some cat feeders simply require that you fill them with food and they will, in turn, open automatically when the cat is close based on a microchip in their collar.

Other feeders will require you to set a specific schedule of times or a simple timer so that food is dispensed every few hours, based on what you’ve selected. Check the owner’s manual for the specifics on your particular feeder.