- How old is your cat?
- How active is your cat?
- What type of food does your cat eat?
- How long will you be gone?
- Choosing the right automatic feeder
Do you want to know if an automatic feeder would be a good idea if you were to leave your cat alone for a week? "Yes!" is the unmistakable response. But it's vital to consider a few important considerations before starting this project. Your canine friend's health and happiness should always come first.
In this post, we'll dig into the world of automatic feeders and discuss important factors, including age, activity level, food preferences, length of your absence, and feeder selection for your cat. So let's explore the world of cat care and learn how to use an automatic feeder to give your pet cat a worry-free and well-fed week.
How old is your cat?
Cats of different ages have distinct nutritional needs that require adjustments to automatic feeder scheduling. You must also pay attention to this during your travels. While these feeders provide convenience, care must be taken to ensure they suit your furry friend's requirements.
Here's what your cat needs to eat at different ages, based on the information below and the reality of your cat.
- Kittens and young cats between 1 and 3 years old are in "growth mode." They need higher calorie diets to fuel rapid development — like teenagers are constantly raiding the fridge! Thus, more frequent small meals throughout the day are ideal.
- Divide their daily feed into at least four portions instead of 2 for older cats. Set the feeder to dispense the first serving early in the morning, then every 6 hours. This mimics how nursing mother cats naturally feed their litter often.
- Senior cats over seven years generally have slower metabolisms and lower activity levels. They benefit from fewer but larger meals per day. Their dietary requirements also shift to needing more protein and calories from fat.
- For older felines, two main meals per day may suffice instead of 4. Adjust the automatic feeder's portions accordingly — perhaps half in the morning and the remainder in the evening. Also, consider "age-appropriate" therapeutic cat food to meet their nutritional demands.
How active is your cat?
Does your furry feline friend spend their days patrolling the backyard or napping on the couch? A cat's activity levels directly influence its energy needs and the ideal amount of food from its automatic feeder.
For an active adventure kitty, extra calories are a must! Think of cats constantly hunting, climbing, playing, and burning food much faster. These furry athletes may require around 20 - 30% more daily kibble to maintain a healthy weight.
Monitor their body condition score— you should easily feel but not see their ribs. If they seem to be losing weight on their current portion, slowly increase the automatic feeder's servings by 10-15% until the scale returns to normal. Pay more attention to your cats' daily life and record it.
On the other hand, indoor cats who spend their days napping or just lounging around tend to be less active. They likely don't need as many calories and can easily gain weight on standard portions.
For these feline friends, consider decreasing their daily feed by around 10-20% through the automatic feeder. Keep an eye out for early signs of weight gain, like a filling out of their face/neck or difficulty grooming themselves.
What type of food does your cat eat?
Whether your furry friend enjoys crunchy kibble or chunky canned food, the type of cat food you choose has implications for how long it stays fresh when left in an automatic feeder.
Dry kibble is typically the most shelf-stable option, retaining nutritional value for months when stored properly. As a result, it often works best with feeders that divide up the daily portion into multiple meals dispensed hours apart.
However, as dry food sits exposed to air for longer, it can lose some of its natural oils and flavor over time. To minimize this, opt for an automatic feeder with a cover to reduce exposure between feedings. Also, purchase slightly larger kibble cuts designed for aging cats that retain moisture better.
In contrast, canned cat food has a much shorter shelf life once opened — usually around 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. This means it's best suited for automatic feeders that can dispense all assigned portions within that window.
Look for a feeder with compartments that hold individual meal-sized cans. Fill and set up each compartment right before you leave to ensure the freshest food for your furry friend. When you return home, immediately replace any remaining wet food to maximize its freshness.
How long will you be gone?
How long you'll be away impacts the best pet care solution for your furry friend.
For short absences under a week, a high-quality feeder filled to the brim with food and water is likely sufficient. Most devices can reliably manage portions and schedules for 3-5 days before requiring refills.
However, for trips extending beyond a week or involving unforeseen delays, an automatic feeder reaches the limit of its usefulness. Cats still need company, supervision, and stimulus that technology can't replace for long periods.
For trips of 2 weeks or longer, a petsitter who stays overnight at your home 1-2 times is often best. They can provide round-the-clock care and fulfill all of your cat's needs while minimizing disruptions to their routine.
Choosing the right automatic feeder
With so many automatic feeders on the market, how do you choose the best one for your furry friend? Here are the key factors to consider when selecting an ideal match for your cat's needs:
- Portion Control: Look for a feeder that allows you to set precise portions for each meal based on your cat's weight, age, and activity level. A feeder with adjustable portion sizes and multiple pet profiles is ideal.
- Schedule Flexibility: Choose a feeder that offers scheduling flexibility. Setting multiple meals throughout the day and customizing feeding times is key to catering to your cat's preferences and lifestyle demands.
- Food Compatibility: Ensure the feeder can accommodate your cat's preferred food type - wet or dry. Some models have separate compartments for each, while others feature interchangeable food bowls.
- Additional Features: Convenience features like automatic cleaning, battery backup, and WiFi connectivity for remote monitoring are nice bonuses but not deal-breakers for a basic feeder.
- Ease of Use: An intuitive, user-friendly design is important for easily setting up and programming the feeder. Check online reviews to determine how straightforward the feeder is to operating.
Armed with these considerations, start researching top-rated automatic cat feeders. Read reviews, compare features, and consult a vet to determine the best match. Then, test-run the feeder with your cat's actual food to work out any kinks before you need it for real.
In conclusion, while an automatic feeder can be indispensable when you leave your cat alone for a week, ensuring your feline companion's needs are met requires thorough preparation and consideration.
From choosing the right feeder to accounting for your cat's nutritional requirements, activity levels, and appropriate food supply, the key is careful planning and a desire, above all, to provide for your curious kitty's welfare during your absence. With diligence and the right technology, this endeavor can certainly work for both cat and cat parents alike.