Having pets can sometimes be more demanding than raising kids. Pet owners obviously love and adore their pets, but anything that can be done to reduce their “chores” can be a welcome relief. One big pain point is feeding them at the right time and in the right amount, especially when it comes to cats. As the saying goes, “Dogs have Masters, Cats have Staff! ”
[Sebastian] had had it with his cat [Strachu] nagging him at odd hours for food. Luckily, [Sebastian] is a skilled maker, and his IoT Cat Feeder is not only practical, but also extremely well engineered. He designed and built it from scratch, and the beautiful, final version shows the effort he put in to it. His requirements were quite straightforward. It had to integrate with his home automation system, had to dispense food based on a regular schedule, send him a notification at other times of the day when the feeder detected the cat so he could decide if the cat deserved a special treat or not, and allow him to manually dispense cat food. Finally, he also wanted it to be easy to take apart so he could wash the parts that are in contact with food.
For the electronics, [Sebastian] designed a custom board to hold the ESP12F module and all the other associated parts. Everything, other than the stepper motor is mounted on the PCB. A PIR sensor is used for cat detection. A piezo buzzer lets the cat know that food is ready. A push button can be used to manually dispense food when required. The ESP8266 is flashed with ESPhome which allows control via simple yet powerful configuration files and control them remotely through the Home Assistant addon. If you’re interested in taking a look under the hood, [Sebastian] walks through some of the key code blocks on the ESP side, as well as the various configuration and setting options for the Home Assistant.
But by far the most effort he needed was in getting the mechanical design perfected. He had to go through several rounds of prototype iterations – after all, his cat deserved the very best in feeder design. The basic parts of the design are simple – a stepper motor drives an auger that pushes the cat food from the main container and deposits it in the bowl. Check out the detailed assembly instructions and pictures on his blog. The best part of his design is how easy it is to take it apart the feeder for cleaning. The stepper motor is held in place by a snap fit end piece without using any screws. The main body then just slides out from the top of the electronics box. Check out [Sebastian]’s cat feeder video after the break for details.
If this design makes you hanker to make one for your cat too, head over to his blog post and provide your mail address and [Sebastian] will send all the files for the project.
There are a lot of stray cats roaming around [Red Tie Projects’] neighborhood, and no one seems to care much about what happens to them. Fortunately for the cats, [Red Tie Projects] cares quite a lot, as evidenced by this colossal cat condo they built. The cats retain their freedom, but get food and a warm, sheltered bed whenever they decide to grace [Red Tie Projects] with their presence.
[Red Tie Projects] built this sturdy shelter from pallet wood and did a fine job of it, sealing all the seams and screws up with wood putty and waterproofing it with silicone. Inside there’s a heated pillow, a light, and a remote-controlled camera so RTP] can pan around and keep an eye on the cats. All the wires run out through a weatherproof junction box attached to the side and over to a control box made from an ATX power supply.
Most of the build is made from scrap, including the best part — an Arduino-driven motorized zip line for delivering food from the balcony to the cat porch. Details on the control box and the food delivery system are coming soon, as [Red Tie Projects] teases in the video after the break. We’re looking forward to seeing those. Oh, and don’t worry — there’s more than enough footage to cover the cat tax.
Have you ever tried to weigh a cat? For that matter, have you ever tried to get a cat to do anything they don’t want to do? The wilful independence of our feline companions is a large part of what endears them to us, and must have done ever since the ancient Egyptians first had a hybrid wildcat that became domesticated
No wonder it’s so hard to care for multiple cats with different dietary needs. But the mere act of weighing the cats just might be the key to automating their diets while giving them the choice of when they want to eat. It’s a task that [Psy0rz] has cracked with the Meowton, a weighing machine/feeder combo designed to regulate the diets of his various moggies.
The multi-faceted system involving a scale to weight the cat, a food hopper with dispenser, and a scale for the food bowl. The cat has to stand on the scale to eat, and the dispenser doles out some food when it detects this. It identifies each cat by weight, and controls the quantity dispensed accordingly to spread that cat’s allotted diet over the course of the day.
Behind it all is an ESP32, which delivers the stats to a web interface and makes them available for import to a database. He’s identified a flaw in the system, that two cats of the same weight could cause misidentification. To that end he has an RFID reader under way, but it’s still a work in progress. There is even a live stream of the unit in action.
We’re suckers for cats here, and while the various Hackaday Cats provide plenty of companionship and entertainment we’re always up for more. Over the years we’ve featured plenty of cat feeders, but only one cat elevator.
Feeding the cat should be a moment of magic, in which you bond with your adorable pet as she rubs seductively against your ankles. As you place the saucer of tender and moist meaty chunks on the floor, she bounds the length of your kitchen, excited expression on her little kitty face, and tail in the air.
If Hackaday made television adverts for cat food, we’d have it nailed. But our everyday reality involves the cute-as-heck Hackaday moggy turning into a persistent little pest when she decides it’s feeding time. [ThinkSilicon]’s friends had exactly this problem, with their furry friend’s preferred timing coming early in the morning. His solution? An automated cat feeder (translated) that dispenses kibbles from a hopper into the lucky mouser’s feeding dish.
The mechanical part of this endeavour is pretty straightforward, a servo moves a sliding piece of plywood with a hole cut in it across the bottom of a hopper full of cat food. Move the slide, dispense food down a chute to the waiting happy cat. Behind the scenes is an ESP8266 and a NodeMCU web service, through which feeding time can be either scheduled, or dispensed at will.
A happy cat means a happy owner, especially in the very early morning. Until that is the newly-sated creature decides to spread the love, jumping onto the owner’s bed in thanks and breathing cat-food-breath into their face. You really do have to love ’em!
Wars generally increase innovation as the opposing sides try to kill each other in ever more efficient ways. Even the soft war waged daily between felines and their human servants results in innovation, to wit we offer this armor-plated automated cat feeder.
The conflict between [Sprocket H.G. Shopcat] and her human [Quinn Dunki] began with a thoughtfully provided automatic food dispenser. Like human vending machine customers who witness a just-purchased bag of Cheesy Poofs dangling on the end of the dispense auger, [Sprocket] learned that the feeder would dispense a few fishy nuggets when nudged. [Quinn] embarked on an iterative design process to control [Sprocket]’s off-schedule snacking. Fastening the feeder firmly to the floor, and adding obstructions to prevent her from pawing up the dispense chute — nothing seemed to stop the clever feline’s raids. [Quinn] then pulled out all the stops and whipped up a [Sprocket]-safe enclosure for the feeder from 1/8″ plate steel and copper. This seems to have put the cat back on the straight and narrow, and it doesn’t look half bad either.
All kidding aside, [Quinn]’s approach to this problem is pretty instructive. Careful observations informed several cycles of reasonable modifications until it became clear that only the most extreme solution would work. There’ve been tons of cat feeders here before, from the simple to the complex, but we think all would fall prey to the clever [Sprocket] without a little up-armoring.