The Time-Saving Pet Product I Could Never Again Live Without, as a Mom of 5 Cats

published Feb 8, 2023
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Credit: Jessica Rapp

If you’re a cat lover like me, you’ve probably seen memes of cats complaining that their bowl is only half full. Or, perhaps you’ve laughed over the adorable antics of kittens awakened out of a dead sleep after hearing a can of food opened. I can vouch that both situations are spot-on. After all, my husband and I have five cats and have fostered over 150 in the past eight years. 

Although cats are low-maintenance, my husband and I still need to scoop litter boxes, fill the water bowls, and make space on our bed for multiple curled-up bodies. And then there’s feeding time, as we don’t allow our crew 24/7 access to food. Because one of our cats is overweight — and ironically named Little Boy because he was the runt of the litter — we schedule feedings, much to their dismay.

We used to live in a two-story home with our bedroom across the hall from the staircase. Each morning, the cats would listen for my husband’s alarm, and as soon as his feet hit the floor, they followed suit as he went downstairs to make coffee and dispense their morning feeding. It may sound harmless, but trying to groggily navigate a staircase with five animals underfoot always proved challenging for him.

Three years ago, I was perusing social media and came across a post from one of our foster organizations. They were auctioning off donated items, and something caught my eye: A brand-new, automatic pet feeder. I didn’t realize there was such a device, and the thought of scheduling feedings seemed like a distant dream. Intrigued, I bid enough on the item to ensure it was mine.

I immediately set up the feeder in my kitchen, adjusted the timer for three meals a day, and recorded my voice to alert my cats that it was time to eat. I set the first timer and called all my cats into the kitchen for a test run. I anxiously awaited as the feeder finally blared, “Time to eat, babies!” and dumped food into the dish. Although I was thrilled, my cats were utterly terrified. 

My voice, the motor, and the crashing food sent them trying to scurry out of the room while not gaining enough traction on the tile to exit quickly. That was not the response I anticipated. I promptly deleted my voice command as my cats sauntered back in and got acclimated to the device. Although they feared the next few food drops, they ultimately realized the sound meant their bellies would soon be full. Now they rush to the feeder instead of running away. 

Automating one simple task made our lives easier while also causing us to rethink a few other duties. For example, we added a second feeder so more cats could eat at once. We also have an automatic watering fountain and — the pièce de résistance — an automatic litter box. Although some of these items are pricey (the litter box was a group Christmas gift one year), they are all well worth it.

Our scheduled feeder started our journey of making our pet parent life more convenient, but if you travel often, have multiple animals, or just want to simplify your day, consider automating at least one area of your responsibilities. Doing so has made our life easier, our pets happier, and our mornings safer.