My cats like to eat. It’s actually their favorite thing in life. These are outdoor cats so when we are out of town (say, at our Beach House) they still like to eat. The prevalence of critters in this so-called-suburb makes it impractical to leave large amounts of food out (as one might if one were leaving food for indoor cats). So I needed an automatic food dispenser that was reliable enough that I wouldn’t worry about my cats missing a meal (at 15 & 17 pounds it WOULD NOT HURT THEM, but still…they would be rather put out) and that was smarter than the equally hungry raccoons.
After much research I purchased the Petsafe Healthy Pet Simply Feed Automatic Cat Feeder. Which is a really long product name. But it’s a fantastic product. The Petsafe is both battery and a/c powered. It does not come with an a/c adapter but you can order that online at your favorite yellow smile store. It requires (4) D-cell batteries. The battery life seems to be rather long. The unit has been in use for about two and half months battery status still reads full.
It’s fairly easy to set up the feeding schedule using the little key pad and screen. The instructions walk you through it. There are 12 programmable meals available and increments of 1/8 cup to 4 cups. For example, my cats share 1 1/2 cups at 7am (3/4 cup each) and then 3/4 cup at 4pm.
The Petsafe has a nice pause feature if you want to suspend the feeding schedule temporarily. It also has a “feed now” feature if you want to deliver a scheduled meal right now.
The lid is secured with a “pet proof” latch that is somewhat difficult to open (even for a biped with thumbs), however raccoons are quite crafty with their (albeit thumb-less) raccoon-y fingers, I thought I should add a second line of defense.
So I slapped some Gorilla Tape across the top and it has worked like a charm, the raccoons were unable to penetrate it or peel it. The first time I left the Petsafe feeder out I had secured it to the deck rail with some bungee cords. This kept the raccoons from absconding with it but it got wet at the edge of the covered deck, and the cats prefer their dry food not-soggy.
Then next time I just left it out next to the sliding door against the back of the house, it was rather heavy (had several pounds of food in it) and didn’t think the raccoons would knock it over.
Imagine my surprise when I found the unit 10 feet away out in the yard. They had apparently rolled it (like a barrel??) HOWEVER, they did not get it open AND it still worked perfectly even after the raccoons savaged it.
So my latest innovation is a steel towel bar, which I screwed into the house siding. The unit is secured with a ratcheting tie down. And instead of using the bowl and bowl holder that come with the unit (which a) the raccoons can easily knock loose, and b) I broke while trying to remove it) I used an aluminum pie pan which I screwed to the deck with 1/2″ wood screws.
I left town with the new tie down in place and came back to a completely undisturbed feeder and two happy cats. Add in the Petsafe Water Station and the scenario is complete.
Cats 1, Raccoons 0.