If you’ve been struggling to keep up with your cat’s feeding schedule, then you should know you’re not alone. Many cat owners are trying to find a convenient way to feed their feline pets even when they’re not home, whether working crazy hours or traveling over the weekend.
This is why when automatic cat feeders came into the picture, the hype was real.
As a cat owner myself, I was super excited about this “robot” that won’t only feed my furball according to a timer, but also deliver controlled meal sizes. I know now that I should’ve researched how to make an automatic cat feeder tamper-proof.
You see, as awesome as it sounded, I didn’t expect my little trouble maker to try its hardest to break into the feeder. Although I don’t like to admit it, my cat managed to “trick” the system a couple of times when I first got the automatic feeder.
This is why today I’ll be sharing my experience with you, fellow cat owners, so you won’t have to deal with the same mess I had!
How to Tell If Your Cat is Likely to Tamper?
So, if you want to successfully keep an automatic cat feeder safe from prying paws, you need to be prepared. You can’t just go into war without knowing the enemy and expect to win, can you?
To put it simply, you should know how likely it is for your cat to try and break into an automatic cat feeder. This is important because not all cats have the same tendency towards being a locksmith, and definitely not all of them manage to actually get things open.
So how do you know if you got a tampering kitty on your hands? Well, ask yourself the following questions and you’ll end up with an answer right after!
- Does your cat seem to be obsessed with food?
- Does your cat manipulate objects easily?
- Do you often catch your cat sneaking around the kitchen?
- Does your car like to push their bowls when feeding?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are pretty high that your cat will try and take on the feeder. Also, if your feline pet is part of the breeds: Siamese, Siberian, Bengal, Sphynx, Burmese, Tonkinese, Ocicat, Turkish Van, and Abyssinians, then it’s likely to attempt some tampering when food is involved.
As I mentioned above, not all acts tend to break into automatic feeders. Some cats are picky eaters so they don’t need more than what the machine dispenses, while others are simply too lazy to be bothered!
How do Cats Tamper with Automatic Cat Feeders?
Now that you have an idea about the intentions of your cat, it’s time that you understand how your feline pet may “attack”.
Despite being a fantastic invention, automatic feeders aren’t exactly perfect. Obviously, they offer huge advantages to cat owners, especially when they aren’t home, but they do come with a set of potential flaws that aren’t really difficult to figure out by smart animals like cats.
If you got a cat that’s likely to try breaking in, here’s how they may go about it:
- In case of dry food automatic feeders, there are generally 3 tricks that a cat may use:
- Putting their paw inside the dispenser chute – the most common method your cat may try is to stick its paw inside the chute from which the food comes out. This allows the cat to eat a few kibbles at a time, making up about an entire extra meal!
- Opening the lid – the second easiest way for your cat to reach the food is by using their paws or claws to lift the lid and dive in.
- Shaking the unit – some cats resort to hitting the feeding to make some food fall down. This is kind of extreme though.
- As for wet food automatic feeders, there are also 3 techniques your cat may attempt:
- Manipulate the spring mechanism to open the lid – some smart cats insert their claws between the lid and the food tray to open feeders with a flip-lid.
- Rotating the tray for the next meal – some sneaky cats figure out that they can rotate the food tray by inserting their paws in the small gap between the lid and the exposed food slot.
- Tipping the unit over – the more impatient or fussy cats may push the machine to flip it over and let the food spill out.
How to Make an Automatic Cat Feeder Tamper Proof?
So how can you make an automatic feeder resistant to your cat’s attacks? Here it goes:
- The first thing you should look into is buying a unit that’s already built to withstand a cat’s aggressive appetite. In this sense, you should look for a feeder with sturdy construction and decent weight to hold its ground against hits. Also, check for lid systems with particularly secure closure.
- Use a chute cover. If your feeder doesn’t include one, you can easily DIY a chute cover using household fabrics or a piece of plastic as a cap.
- Obstruct the chute so it doesn’t fit your cat’s paw. You can do this by drilling holes into the chute and sticking a metal rod through it. The rod will act as a block for your cat without hindering the flow of food.
- Fasten the unit to a wooden block. If the material of the feeder’s base will allow it, nail the unit to a wooden board to make it extra stable.
- If you got a machine with a transparent hopper, make it opaque using black tape or some paint. If a cat has a constant view of its food, they’re more likely to try and get it.
- If the lid of the unit isn’t very secure, try sealing it with a baby safety lock. Some adults struggle to pry these things open!
- Buy a feeder with a” frequent feeding” or a “slow feeding” option. Such a mode dispenses small amounts of food over a longer period. With your cat having access to food almost constantly, it’s less likely to tamper with the feeder for more.
I want to wrap this article with one last piece of advice. If you do try some or all of these tips but you somehow still notice your cat is general overeating, then you should pay a visit to the vet right away. You want to make sure your cat isn’t suffering from any conditions that cause excessive eating.