Posted by justinelee in Animal Safety, Blog, Pet Health
Ok, I’ll admit. I’m a busy working veterinary mom and try to automate as much as my life as possible. So much so that I wrote a blog on Top 10 life hacks for veterinarians. But that’s because life is too crazy to clean litter boxes and scoop by hand, especially with COVID, homeschooling, working from home, and all that #2020 “stuff.” For that reason, I was excited when AutoPets, makes of the Litter Robot, released the Feeder-Robot, automatic pet feeder!
I was able to try out my Feeder-Robot recently. It took me a while – you know, with #2020 and all. You can see the original, initial unveiling (Part 1) of my Feeder-Robot automatic pet feeder review here:
So, why do I love the Feeder-Robot as a cat owner AND veterinarian? Because it’s easy. And convenient. And will keep your cat and dog healthier.
The Feeder-Robot is a wifi-enabled, automatic pet feeder that is actually super easy to set up. Simply download the AutoPets Connect app, and it walks you through everything, including scanning the QR code on the back to easily set it up.
Once you download the app, create an account and login. Then you can easily set the Feeder-Robot. Please know that you can set it up either directly on the feeder OR from the app. (I did it directly from the app). The app is pretty user-friendly, and it lets you customize pretty much everything from what size portion (For cats, you should only pick 1/4 cup, yo!), what days you want to feed (All, please), how many times a day you want to feed (No more than 3X/day, yo!). You can even set alerts on the app so you know when food is getting low or look at feeding statistics, etc. The app is great because I can dispense a snack to my cat from the app directly, and see how many feedings have been dispensed.
You can use the Feeder-Robot for both dogs and cats, although I use this just for the cat in my life. Based on the size to allow a dog’s head to fit in the dish, it’d have to be a pretty small to medium-sized dog, FYI. I also like how the pet food is stored in an air-tight, dry storage bin, which definitely beats the crappy, old, plastic gravity feeder I used to use (see the crappy old one in the image to the left below in the video below!). Looks especially bad compared to the modern, slick, hip looking Feeder-Robot.
Some of the nice features of the Feeder-Robot include:
- It saves your pet’s feeding schedule and will continue to accurately dispense this amount, even if the unit goes offline
- It has a backup battery, so it’ll still feed my cat even when the power goes out!
- It comes with a plastic bowl that is easy to clean. There are also several other options including glass and stainless steel. I love this especially for cats who have feline acne, where a stainless steel bowl is ideal. BTW, you should be cleaning these at least once or twice a week, and the bowl is easy to pop in and out (see my disclosure below, however. Apparently there’s a lip on the dish and I don’t know how to read instructions well).
- It’s got a back up system – with the app, you can monitor the amount of food dispensed – if food is not dispensed for any reason, you will be notified by the unit and the app. Please note that this doesn’t mean your pet is eating it. It may just be accumulating. So, with pet ownership, you should safely look at this once a day to make sure and confirm your pet is eating normally! If not, signs of not eating are early signs of illness, and get to a vet right away!
- Depending on the size of the kibble you are feeding, know that it has anti-jam technology – if the Feeder-Robot motor catches something that it can’t drive past, it’ll stop, come back, and try again. I haven’t had any experience with this, so can’t attest to this.
Some pros that I liked about the Feeder-Robot:
- Your pet never misses a feeding. Please note that this doesn’t mean you can use an automatic pet feeder as a reason to excuse your petsitter away. For 1-2 nights, sure, no prob for a cat. But more than that, your cat wants (and needs) a human to check in on them!
- You’re feeding the right amount, on time, every time. When in doubt, check with your veterinarian on the exact amount of kcals (calories) to feed your pet’s ideal body weight, not current overweight state.
- It’s relatively easy to set up.
- I loved how you could look to see how full the hopper is (food storage container section) on the app. I pretty much dumped several pounds of expensive, prescription food right into the hopper! It seems to keep my cat’s food fresh compared to the more air-exposed feeder I was using. There’s also a status indicator tower light on top of the hopper to let you know how much food is left in there.
- When I was first trialing this Feeder-Robot, I had to adjust my cat from being fed ad lib (which means she has food available at all times, as she’s a grazer) to 2-3X/day feedings. For that reason, I loved the snack mode where I could easily press a button to fill and dispense more kibble (1/4 cup for Lola!). I did try the gravity feed mode which was similar to my old, cheap piece of plastic gravity feeder, but found that extra kibble was sitting in the chute area and didn’t love that setting.
The cons or limiatations of an automatic pet feeder:
- I already had a previous app for my older Litter Robot, and didn’t realize I had two email accounts set up, so had to delete the app and log in appropriately.
- You have to properly situate the food bowl. I just placed the bowl directly into the well, and food was getting stuck in the chute. Of course, in full disclosure, despite all the schooling of being a veterinarian, I didn’t take the time to read the easy quick guide instructions. Apparently, there’s a lip on the bowl (see below).
- As a veterinarian, I want to reiterate that it’s harder to tell if your cat or dog stops eating if you have an automatic pet feeder. In a normal healthy pet, no prob. But it’s like having a fenced in backyard – super convenient, but you don’t actually know what your dog’s poop looks like for a few days until you scoop. You still want to make sure your cat is eating appropriately, that the dish doesn’t seem to be overfilling, and another pet isn’t getting into it. When in doubt, always monitor your pet’s appetite, interest in food, etc. carefully. This is EXTREMELY important as you adjust your pet to a new diet. So for that reason, I’m going to say that while I love this automatic pet feeder, it should only be used when your pet is consistently on a diet that they are already used to. If they aren’t, you need to slowly adjust your pet to the diet slowly (For cats, you need to do this over several weeks). Feed old school wise – with a bowl initially – so you can carefully monitor your cat’s appetite.
Overall, I love the Feeder-Robot. My favorite aspects? The Feeder-Robot keeps my cat’s food fresher, I can easily change out the bowl to clean it frequently (and dump out any remaining food), and I can neurotically monitor it from upstairs on my app.
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