One of the difficulties of having a pet is that if you like to travel a lot, you need to plan in advance on care for your furry friend while you’re out of town for extended periods of time. Dogs are particularly challenging since they require daily interactive care. I’ve never been a dog person, but even if I was, adopting a dog is completely out of the question since it would severely limit my ability to travel as much as I want to. Cats are much easier since they can be left alone for a few days provided they have enough food, water, and clean litter. Whenever we’re away for more than 2 days at a time, we have an excellent local pet sitter who comes by every other day to visit our cat Ginger, change the litter, and top off the automatic cat feeder and water bowl.
One gadget that makes all of this much easier is having a good quality automatic cat food dispenser. I scoured the internet for reviews and found that even the best selling feeders sold on the big name pet store websites had significant problems with reliability. I didn’t want to pay any amount of money for something that could potentially break down during one of our multi week jaunts across the ocean; cost had nothing to do with it, as even the most expensive feeders had an unacceptably high number of poor reviews.
Eventually (and I unfortunately don’t recall the chain of search algorithms that led me to it), I stumbled across a food dispenser called the Super Feeder. When I first bought my unit 9 to 10 years ago, I think I paid around $120. It’s a little more expensive than that now, but not by much. It’s pricier than most of the automatic feeders you’ll find out there, but what you get for a little extra money up front is a solid product that’s Made in the USA and has universally excellent user reviews. Ginger’s been eating from her Super Feeder for nearly a decade whenever we go out of town, and it’s been a reliable product with zero malfunctions.
Here’s what it looks like:
They’ve upgraded the feeder recently with an improved design and better quality bowl, but mine has worked so well that I haven’t felt the need to get another. It’s a very simple piece of machinery. You pop open the lid up top, pour food in, and plug it into a wall timer. Whenever the timer goes off, the Super Feeder turns on for a specified amount of time, and this activates a cylindrical roller at the bottom of the food reservoir spitting out dry kibbles for your little fur baby to munch on. The food dispensing time is adjusted by turning a small screw in the side of the machine that can’t be accessed by your pet. It takes some experimentation to get the food volume right, but once it’s set you’re good to go.
The clear plastic food reservoir that comes included is modular. You can either use one cube (as shown in the picture above) or you can attach a second cube atop the first one to double the food-holding capacity. Because I only have one cat and she gets a visit every 2 days, the one cube holds way more that what she eats in that amount of time, so I never bothered to attach the second cube. If you have a multi-cat household or plan to use the feeder every day, then they also sell much larger food canisters that you can fill to the brim and not have to worry about for several weeks.
You do need to buy a separate timer to use with the feeder. I have a basic 24 hour mechanical timer (this one) that works great.
The one downside with my feeder is that if you have a sneaky cat, she can reach into the food chute and knock a few kibbles out while the machine is off. This design flaw was fixed in the current model with a curved plastic cover that prevents a cat’s thieving paw from wandering into places it shouldn’t be. Anyone who has bought the newer redesigned model likely won’t have this problem.
If you’ve dealt with some garbage cat feeders and need a trustworthy gadget to keep your pet fed properly during your time away, give the Super Feeder a look. I’ve been really happy with mine, and it was money well spent.
You can buy one directly at their website here: superfeederstore.com