Cheap Cat Feeder Enhances Sleep

We’ll admit it: we sometimes overcomplicate things. Look at [Peter Weissbrod’s] automated cat feeder, for example. It isn’t anything more than a bottle, a servo, some odds and ends, and an Arduino. However, it lets him sleep in without his cat waking him for service.

We looked at the code and thought, “This thing will just dispense food all the time! That’s not what you want!” Then we looked closer. [Peter] uses a common household timer to just turn the device on in the morning, let it run for a bit, and then turns it off. You can see a video of the mechanism, below.

Honestly, we have mixed feelings. As we are sure someone’s already quit reading to comment: you don’t really need an Arduino for this. If it were doing the timing, that might make it more justifiable. Or perhaps have it sense daylight to feed in the morning. Still, Arduinos are cheap (we just picked up some tiny Pro’s for about $3) and it is a more flexible arrangement than, say, a 555 driving the servo.

We have seen many cat feeders over the years. Some of them use custom components. Others use whatever you have on hand (including another kitchen timer). However you do it, one thing is clear: When the aliens come and observe life on Earth, they will doubtless conclude that the cats are in charge.

21 thoughts on “Cheap Cat Feeder Enhances Sleep

  1. that mechanism doesn’t look very reliable, and will probably block when trying to close while stuff is still falling out, or it might even block the entrance all by itself while open due to the shape of the food.
    I would not trust this thing to feed my pet while i was away ..

    1. It looks like the plastic bit is far enough from the opening to not get blocked by single bits of food. I think it will spill a few more food bits after closing but will clog after a short while.

    1. I did that to but then my cat would bang on the bedroom Windows when she wanted to get in again. And if we had anyone over so she got jelus she would go out and in every ten minuts for the whole nigth.

    2. I think it’s very inconsiderate to put your cats out at night (even if they do survive). Neighbor’s cats around here just stink up my yard and antagonize my dogs through the windows.
      It’s illegal here, but seemingly unenforceable since people do it all the time. I’m guessing it’s probably the same people that think nothing of dumping garbage and cigarette butts out their car windows.

      1. It depends, I suppose, on the neighbourhood. The lots here are around four acres in a wooded semi-rural area and the contributions of cats to the situation is dwarfed by that of other small mammals like raccoons, badgers, skunks and such. Were we living in the city in a townhouse, we likely would keep the cats indoors, if we had them at all.

  2. Sorry, imho all these cat-feeders are crap. If you are not willing to feed your cat yourself when needed than you shouldn’t have a cat. And when you go away it’s not only food that your cat needs, but also water, cleaning of litter box and of course play and love.

    (And yes, i know how it is to be woken up (??wake up) at 3:00 AM by a hungry feline for many years.)

    1. I have a cat that wakes me up in the early morning. He usually wants a treat or petting, and I groggily oblige. We take these creatures into our homes, and expect them not to do what comes naturally (cats are crepuscular) but conform to our schedules. No, I’m not going to do that to my little fur ball who provides me so much joy.

      I had a neighbor who was not a “cat person” who found it insane that I would wake up to feed/pet my cat. I then helpfully reminded him that he’s also distorted his own early morning schedule to walk his dog.

  3. I always fed my cat randomly, I think a lot of people get their cats to expect it at a specific time and if they are sleeping in for a weekend they still expect to get fed “before you go to work”… I didn’t even feed mine immediately after getting up, so he knew he would get fed when he gets fed and waking me up wouldn’t do any good.

    He was getting a little fat though and I wanted something more techy that would give exact portions to I bought a commercial automated feeder… it holds like a month worth of food and can feed between 1/4 of a cup and 3 cups on a schedule 3 times a day… it’s never jammed, and it has a low battery light that comes on like a month before it actually dies.

    He does try and fight with it to get more food but he never wins, and he’s not yet knocked it over or got it open…

    It’s nice because if I happen to go out after work or I’m out later than expected I know my cat still has food and he isn’t free feeding himself to death.

    It cost about a hundred bucks but it works well for what it is. He also has a pet fountain that holds about a weeks worth of water. So the few times I am out of town I can have someone come check on him once a day or every other day and clean his litter and I know he’s at least set for the essentials.

    At some point I’m going to crack it open and hack it onto the WiFi so I can remote control it and get data from it.

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