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A cat feeder is so much more than just a bowl for feeding your favorite feline friend. That’s why the market is filled with all kinds of models, from traditional feeders to automatic and interactive ones. If there were nothing special about cat feeders, they would all be made the same size, with a durable material like plastic or aluminum, and that would be it. How boring would that be?

Your kitty can’t grab food with its paws like us humans do, so of course it has to stick its mouth right into the bowl. The result is that cats have much more contact with their plates than we do with ours. So it’s no surprise that some cat’s disapprove of their feeder, finding it unsuitable in some way. If you’d like to learn more about this essential cat product, keep reading our guide!

Key Facts

  • Cat feeders come made from a range of materials like plastic, glass, ceramics, silicone, melamine and stainless steel.
  • Feeder models vary in terms of shape, depth, height (some are elevated), color and design.
  • A cat feeder can be traditional, automatic or interactive, so you should be able to find one that suits your cat’s needs.

Our Selection of the Best Cat Feeders on the U.S. Market

These days, pets are often an integral part of our families, and most people aim to care for them in the best way possible. If you want to provide your cat with proper nutrition, getting a quality feeder should be on top of your to-do list. We’ve put together a list of our favorite cat feeders to get you started.

The Best Cat Feeder Under $40

This affordable automatic cat feeder and waterer from Ancaixin features a natural gravity supply system and offers a practical, cost-effective way to feed your pet. The feeder can hold up to six pounds of your cat’s preferred dry food brand, enough to feed 3-4 cats for 5 days, while the waterer holds up to 1 gallon of fresh water.

This feeder-waterer combo is easy to fill and easy to clean; just wash it by hand with warm water and soap and wait for it to dry. It also has an anti-slip rubber base to prevent spillage in the case that your pet tries to move it around. On top of that, this product is BPA free and made from environmentally-friendly, non-toxic plastic. Get 1 self-cleaning slicker brush with every purchase.

The Best Automatic Cat Feeder

If you’re looking for a top-quality, automatic cat feeder with unique features, then check out this model from WOPET, which is Amazon’s Choice and a customer favorite. Using the built-in programmable timer and easy-to-use LCD screen, you can schedule up to 4 automated feedings each day and control the portion size. Choose to dispense anywhere from 2 teaspoons up to 4.5 cups of dry food for each feeding.

This feeder is powered with a nearby outlet or 3 D-size batteries that can keep the feeder functioning in case of a power outage. You can also record a custom message to leave your cat, in order to keep them excited about their next meal! The feeder is only suitable for dry food.

The Best Cat Feeder for Portion Control

Does your cat suffer from obesity? Well don’t worry anymore, because the PetSafe 5 Meal Pet Feeder is perfect for controlling your cat’s portions, and getting them back in shape. This feeder features five individual trays that you can fill with up to 1 cup of dry or semi-moist food each. Then use the built-in clock and LCD screen to set up a perfect feeding schedule, and the trays will rotate into place to feed your cat.

The PetSafe feeder is easy to clean; just remove the tray and stick it in the dishwasher. With this item, your cat will never be left waiting for their meal, and you don’t need to worry about their weight! This feeder uses 4 D-cell alkaline batteries, which are not included in the purchase.

The Best Interactive Cat Feeder

If you’re often away from home or are planning a trip, why not leave your cat with a fun feeder in your absence? The Catit Senses 2.0 Digger will not only provide healthy portions of your cat’s favorite food, but also plenty of stimulating entertainment. It includes 3 short, narrow tubes and 2 longer, wider tubes that you fill with cat food. Then it’s your cat’s job to figure out how to get the food! Don’t worry, it’s not impossible.

The tubes have rounded edges that make them especially easy to clean, and the digger can be taken apart for easy hand washing. The base also has a sloped surface that will collect any stray food that escapes your cat’s eager paws. You can pick from 1, 2 and 3 packs of this incredible, unique feeder.

Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Should Know About Cat Feeders

In this next section, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions from cat feeder buyers just like you. We’ll go through the most common materials, models and other characteristics of cat feeders so that you can make the best decision.

Woman resting with kitten

Cats don’t like their food to get wet, and they don’t like drinking dirty water.
(Source: Alena Ozerova: 46423368/ 123rf.com)

What exactly are cat feeders?

Available in various shapes and sizes, the basic function of a cat feeder is to hold your cat’s food. Because some cats and owners have special needs, automatic and interactive feeders have emerged on the market in recent years. Those feeders can provide food to your cat even when you’re not around.

How can I recognize a quality cat feeder?

Stainless steel and melamine are some of the best materials for a traditional cat bowl, since they’re durable, sturdy and easy to clean. Although it breaks more easily, ceramic is also a very good option. Here are some key aspects of a good cat feeder:

  • The manufacturing material is easy to clean, and won’t easily absorb or retain dirt, pathogens or odors. Stainless steel, ceramic, melamine and glass are all good options.
  • It doesn’t contain any toxic material or compounds. If your cat suffers from allergies or dermatitis, we suggest you look for a feeder made of hypoallergenic material like glass or stainless steel.
  • The bowl and base should be detachable for easy washing, and rounded edges are preferred.
  • A bowl with a raised support is usually more comfortable for your cat.
  • The diameter of your feeder should be big enough so that your cat’s whiskers don’t bend when it uses the feeder.
  • The depth should be moderate; cats don’t like having to stick their head too far into the bowl. Nonetheless, a model that’s too shallow will result in the cat scattering its food all over the place.
  • The base should be non-slip, since many cats have a tendency to move and push the bowl as they eat.
Diana RamirezVeterinarian in Detroit, Michigan

“Pet owners can naturally choose the feeder that suits their taste, but I recommend stainless steel models to prevent bacteria from sticking. Other materials can hide many microorganisms that lead to the the growth of fungi.”

Which materials are unsuitable for a cat feeder?

Plastic is not the best option. Although it doesn’t break easily, the smooth texture can quickly become rough and uneven, and it’s prone to absorbing food residue and smells. This, in turn, can promote the growth of pathogens and your cat may refuse to use the feeder. In fact, many cats won’t even try to use a plastic bowl due to its smell.

Wood is a very porous material, making it another bad option. With wood, hygiene and disinfection are harder to achieve. It can also splinter over time, which could be dangerous for your cat.

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Some stainless steel or ceramic bowls have wooden bases, which is fine as long, as they are waterproof.

Can a feeder cause an allergic reaction in my cat?

Yes, the material used in a cat feeder can cause allergic reactions. There have been reports of dermatitis, allergies or rashes in cats who have used plastic bowls. The symptoms usually appear on the head and mouth. Some ceramic feeders also use paints that contain toxins, but hypoallergenic paints are available and are preferred.

Cat eats dry cat food

Keep your cat’s feeder in a cool, dry place.
(Source: Nataliya Dvukhimenna: 47497925/ 123rf.com)

Should I get a double feeder?

If you have more than one cat, a double feeder allows you to feed them separately, which is genearlly a good idea. Still, using a double bowl for food and water is not advised, because most cats like to keep their food and drink separated.

If the two items are kept too close together, water can spill into the food or vise versa.  And, as we mentioned above, cats don’t like their dry food to get wet, or their water to get dirty.

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We recommend sticking with a single bowl if you only have one cat in the house.

Where should I put my cat’s feeder?

The one essential condition is to place the feeder as far from your cat’s litter box as possible. Otherwise, your cat might refuse to eat from the feeder. A quiet, clean spot such as in the kitchen is ideal.

If you also have a dog in the house, be sure to put the cat feeder in a high enough location so that the dog can’t eat all your cat’s food too. Direct sunshine can alter the flavor of the food, so it’s also good to avoid. This is especially important if you’re using an automatic feeder that holds food for a week or more.

Dried dog and cat food background macro . cat food wallpaper closeup

The food you give your cat should be chosen with care.
(Source: Svetlana Medvedeva: 85707691/ 123rf.com)

Are feeders with elevated bases useful?

Yes, bowls with a high support (made from wood, metal or melamine) can be very comfortable for cats. This is particularly true for older cats whose appetite may have decreased over time; they may eat less if they have to adopt an uncomfortable position in order to access their bowl.

What are the advantages of automatic feeders?

Automatic cat feeders were designed as a solution for owners who spend a significant amount of time away from home and can’t be around to feed their cat. Automatic feeders allow you to split the food into a number of meals each day, to best suit your cat’s habits and prevent excesses or deficiencies.

Some people choose to simply fill standard bowls to the limit when they’re away, allowing their cat to decide when they want to eat. This method doesn’t always work, since some cats can’t self-regulate and will eat all the food in one sitting.

Traditional Automatic
Price Cheaper More expensive
Design/Colors Wide range of colors and designs (inscriptions, patterns, prints). Their design is usually more plain and the most common colors are black and white.
Can it ration and dispense food while the owner is away? No. Yes (this is its primary advantage).
Can it store food for multiple days or weeks? No, its capacity doesn’t allow it. Yes, some models can store several pounds of food at once.
Suitable for dry and wet food? Yes. No, this is only used for dry food.
Durability This depends on the specific material. Melamine and stainless steel offer superb durability. Like any electronic device, they can break down.
Do they consume energy? No. Yes, they work via a power outlet or batteries.

What are the key features of an automatic feeder?

A good automatic feeder will stick to a set schedule and serve the correct quantity of food to your cat, but there are some other characteristics that are also important:

  • Detachable parts, for easy cleaning.
  • Programable from your mobile phone, so that you can adjust it as needed.
  • Low or ultra-low energy consumption.
  • A durable outer structure made from high-quality materials. Your cat want to play with the feeder or to try to get to the food inside. A durable product is therefore essential.
Cat eating in the floor

Always evaluate a feeder’s material before purchasing it.
(Source: Deyan Georgiev: 36872205/ 123rf.com)

What is the best feeder for overweight cats?

Automatic feeders are ideal for this issue, since they can be set to serve just the right amount of food, at the right time. That way, you can confidently leave your cat at home for an extended period without leaving a ton of extra food in the bowl. Obesity is often caused by the preventive measure of serving a cat too much food.

Interactive feeders are also a useful way to control your cat’s appetite. Once you’ve hidden the food or treat in the feeder, your cat will need to hunt its prey in order to get the reward. By entertaining cats, these devices also help them channel their anxiety.

Jason NicholasPresident and Chief Medical Office of Preventive Vet

“Most cats are natural-born hunters, and they LOVE to work for and play with their food! You can use that to your (and their) advantage to help provide environmental enrichment and prevent a whole lot of problems.”

What types of cat feeders are available?

The best kind of cat feeder will depend on your cat and its unique characteristics as well as your lifestyle. Here, we identify the three primary types of cat bowls based on the different needs of pets and their owners:

  • Traditional bowls: These consist of a simple bowl, or a bowl along with a base or support. Their sole function is to hold wet or dry food.
  • Automatic feeders: These feeders are designed to dispense dry food at a specific time or according to a specific time interval. They are particularly useful for people who spend their days away from home or who travel often.
  • Interactive feeders: These models, besides serving food, will also entertain and stimulate your cat. Your cat will need to work to find the food hidden within the feeder. Interactive feeders are a great choice for overweight cats, as well as cats who tend to get bored at home or are lonely.

Shopping Criteria

Choosing the best feeder for you and your cat isn’t as easy as it may seem. You should take your time to find one that you won’t be disappointed with. The last section provided you with some important information to help you make your choice, and here are some key shopping criteria to help you seal the deal:

Material

As we mentioned earlier, this is the first aspect you should consider when purchasing a cat feeder. The feeder should be easy to clean, comfortable for your cat to use, safe and durable. Make sure your cat approves of the material too; it might not like or tolerate some materials, such as plastic or metals other than stainless steel.

Man sitting in an armchair, holding his gorgeous pet cat

Cleaning your feeder is very easy.
(Source: Andrea Obzerova: 58467683/ 123rf.com)

Cleaning

In terms of maintaining hygiene, look for a feeder made from materials like stainless steel, ceramic, melamine and glass, since all are easy to clean and safe for your cat. Most of these materials are dishwasher safe too, an added plus. Traditional and automatic feeders that feature detachable parts are usually the easiest to clean.

Shape and Size

Here’s another factor we’ve mentioned before: your cat’s feeder should be large enough so that its whiskers don’t touch or bend against the edges of the bowl. Cats generally don’t like especially deep feeders, but it also won’t be very practical if it’s too shallow. Raised bases that elevate the bowl help cats eat in a more comfortable position.

Type

A traditional bowl may be just right for your cat if you’re someone who spends plenty of time at home. On the other hand, if you’re away all day, or you cat tends to get bored, you may prefer an interactive or automatic feeder. If you prefer, you can switch among feeders to best suit the day or situation.

Cute persian cat eating dry food

You’ll find many unique models on the American market.
(Source: Anurak Ponapatimet: 54880520/ 123rf.com)

Design/Style

You will find an array of feeder styles out there: modern, elegant and minimalist. You’ll find all kinds of decorative elements, from engravings to photographs, stickers and other inscriptions. Automatic feeders are usually made with plastic and look like many other household appliances, while interactive models may look like other cat toys.

Plastic Stainless steel Ceramic Melamine
Price Affordable Moderate. Non-slip bases or elevated supports can increase the price. Great value for money. Moderate. Ceramic bowls are relatively cheap, but an extra base or support will cost more. Affordable
Ease of cleaning Easy at the start, but the plastic may deteriorate over time, making it more difficult. Very easy Easy Very easy
Durability/resistance Good resistance, but it may deteriorate over time. Its durability is average. Great resistance and durability. Low resistance to blows. It can last a very long time if your cat doesn’t play with the feeder. Superb resistance and durability.
Weight Light Very light Heavy Very light
Is it hypoallergenic? No Yes No No
Anti-voracity design? Plastic can support anti-voracity design. No No No
Acceptance by cats Low Moderate High High
Decorative elements Simple design, usually only colors. The base around the bowl is usually decorated with images, inscriptions and engravings. The ceramic is usually painted and it may feature drawings or inscriptions. The melamine is colored and may include floral elements, arabesques and other inscriptions.

Summary

We’d be willing to bet you didn’t think there were so many different things to take into account when purchasing a cat feeder. But now you know all the right questions to ask and things to consider in order to pick the perfect feeder for your cat’s needs as well as yours.

Traditional cat bowls can be budget-friendly, but always make sure they’re safe and comfortable for your pet. On the other hand, automatic feeders will be a larger investment, but they’re a great option if you spend a lot of time out of the house and want to ensure your cat eats well in your absence.

If you found our article useful, please feel free to share it with your friends on social media. You can also leave us a comment with your thoughts below!

(Source of featured image: Alexey Poprotsky: 33533976/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Alexandra works as a dog trainer and is the owner of a dog school. She rescued three stray dogs from her local animal shelter and basically knows everything there is to know about dog training and dog food. She enjoys writing all about these loyal animals.