After several hours of research, I finally made my selection of the 5 best distributors of food for cats and dogs among more than twenty products marketed for the moment.
My favorite is the PetSafe Simply Feed, a high-end model that is as practical everyday as when we have to leave our little companion at home for a few days.
You will also find at the end of this article a buying guide to determine the most suitable model for your pet's profile.
Why Trust Our Selection Chromebookeur writers spend hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and comparing products to recommend the best value for money. Our choices are unbiased, and we never accept to put one brand over another. Learn more.
The best cheap food distributors
Entry-level models are not all reliable. To avoid unpleasant surprises, we will therefore focus on recognized brands, like PetSafe.
These dispensers are pretty basic, since they all work with a timer.
PetSafe 2 meals: the best cheap
Compatible with dishwasher
Lack of programming precision
PetSafe is a fairly well-known brand of happy pet owners (mainly cats, dogs and rodents). We appreciate the excellent value for money of its products, including entry-level models like this 2-meal food dispenser.
First point appreciable: PetSafe is a brand quite attentive to the safety and health of our little companions. This dispenser is made of plastic without bisphenol A (BPA).
It is therefore composed of 2 food compartments, each with a capacity of 355 ml (150 g). Its two bowls are also compatible with the dishwasher, which is a little more practical.
Each model compartment has an independent timer to program the opening. Note that the graduation is in hours.
So you have to do a little calculation when programming. Practical example: if you fill the bowl at 7am, it will adjust one button on 5 for a first meal at 12 am and the second on 12 for a meal at 19h. The programming lacks a little precision.
The PetSafe 2 meal uses an AA battery (not included) and is very good for him: he is silent. Note that it does not have an ON / OFF button.
You must remove the battery when you are not using it. In use, this is a good idea: we would quickly forget a button and deprive our little companion of food!
This dispenser is quite light (558 g). So it is a pretty practical model in case of displacement.
Sturdy enough, this model is reliable enough for your pets to have good access to food in your absence. Especially as the dispenser is equipped with anti-slip feet and an anti-tilt system that limits the risk of incidents.
Small warning to lucky cat owners: the timer is the weak point of the dispenser, since the dial must be set to 0 to open. But our feline friends are pretty smart and have small legs very agile.
If you have a greedy and mischievous profile at home, it is possible that he will eventually open the dispenser with claws.
If a very determined animal can force the dispenser, the PetSafe 2 Meal is a very good model. It is as reliable if you leave as when you move. The top, in the cheap category!
WOpet: a good model for occasional use
Available in several colors
Possibility of connecting several distributors
Woow is one of the many Chinese brands that offers a huge selection of products at low prices. Overall, the price / quality ratio is there.
In spite of its small price, the WOpet distributor can be quite practical, even if it is unlikely to last very long if you use it daily.
The WOpet is designed to serve both kibble and wet food type mash. The dispenser comes in the form of a generous bowl, with a capacity of 185 g. This bowl is also removable for easy cleaning.
This model uses an AA battery (not included) and has a lid that opens on demand. It has a timer that covers 48 hours. Alas, the use is far from intuitive.
The timer does not allow you to program a specific time: it is used to open the bowl at regular intervals. Example: If it is 7am when you go to work and your little companion eats at 12am, you will have to set the timer for 5h.
The device is also equipped with an independent ON / OFF switch, so you should consider turning it on after programming the timer. In short! This model is not recommended for people head-in-the-air (or who have some problems with the numbers)!
The distributor has a rather pretty design, and it also comes in several colors. If you have several house animals, you can choose different models. Good idea: the connectors that allow to attach several distributors between them.
The WOpet is quite practical in some specific cases: an animal that wakes you up because it eats early in the morning or at night; an animal that tends to overeat when you are at work; or when moving (the dispenser has a small latch)
But let's be honest: it does not inspire confidence. It seems a little fragile and likely to fail in the medium term. It might be a little risky to use if your pet stays home alone for more than 24 hours.
The WOpet is not necessarily the most reliable cheap distributor. But in some very specific cases, it can still be very practical. To see, depending on the profile of your little companion!
The best mid-range food distributors
Mid-range models have good strength. They are therefore reliable if you have to be away for 2 to 5 days. They are also more precise. You can therefore accurately program meal times.
You will also find more sophisticated models, which open only in the presence of the chip of your animal, like SureFeed. A must have if one of your pets has a special diet, but also a real security if you have a toddler at home.
PetSafe Eatwell: the best mid-range
Ability to program 5 meals
With the Eatwell model, PetSafe signs a high-capacity, reliable and accurate food dispenser. This distributor of very good quality makes it possible to serve 5 meals to your little companion.
What to make sure he will not miss anything in your absence.
As always with PetSafe, the quality of materials is there.
This dispenser is made of plastic without bisphenol A (BPA). It is a bit imposing: 38.1 cm wide and 12.7 cm high and 45.7 cm long. It must be said that the Eatwell is equipped with a rotating plate with 5 compartments, 5 meals of 165 g. These bins are also compatible dishwasher.
PetSafe Eatwell dispenser works with 4 D batteries (not included). It displays a rather forbidding design, but from a practical point of view, it ensures. You have indeed a complete control panel, with an LCD screen.
The controls are not super intuitive: you have to give yourself the time to take them in hand. Once you are familiar with the commands, you can precisely program the time at which your little companion's meals will be served.
The PetSafe Eatwell is very solid, and unlike its little brother, the PetSafe 2 meal, it will withstand the onslaught of a greedy and reckless animal. Be careful, however: the turntable is noisy. Some pets may need some time to tame their new distributor.
Accurate, reliable, practical and solid: the PetSafe Eatwell is definitely a very good mid-range model. You can count on him when you go to work, but also if you have to go away for a short time.
For everyday use, we regret that its design is not more neat!
SureFeed: a must-have when you have a child or if one of your animals follows a specific diet
Opening thanks to the animal's chip
Safe for young children
Consumes a lot of batteries
When we have several pets at home, it is common for one of them to be on a particular diet. Then begins a real puzzle, because it is common that our little companions use in the bowl that he prefers.
To avoid this kind of inconvenience, SureFeed offers a range of dispensers that opens with the identification chip of your pet. This model, equipped with a sealed bowl, is perfect to ensure once and for all that everyone will eat in his bowl!
The SureFeed dispenser is designed for cats and very small dogs. It has a bowl of 400 ml, divided into 2 compartments.
It is therefore equipped with a security, compatible with most of the thumbs and RFID medallions: its cover reveals the food only if it is the animal for which it is intended that approaches.
If your pet is fearful, the movement and sound of the lid can be daunting. SureFeed had the good idea to provide a "training" mode: the lid opens and closes in 2 steps, to help your little companion tame the distributor.
The dispenser comes with a plastic bowl. If your pet is allergic to it, you can replace it with a stainless steel bowl sold separately. The SureFeed works with 4 R14 / C batteries.
Attention: this distributor is exclusively designed so that each of your animals has only access to the food that suits him, not to limit or feed him in your absence. Your cat will be able to use when it seems to him and to eat as much as it wishes.
On the design side, SureFeed is not particularly attractive. It is not particularly discreet either (32 x 23 x 20 cm). But it is really useful when one of our animals has a special diet.
Of course, you have to invest in a distributor for everyone. But considering the quality of the product, it's worth it in the long run.
The SureFeed dispenser is also very safe if you have a toddler, who might be trying to carry the cat's croquettes to the mouth. Finally, the lid helps keep food fresh.
We regret that this model works only batteries, which is not very economical. It is also smart to opt for rechargeable models. In addition, cats a little mischievous can try to eat in the bowl of their little friend passing on the sides.
SureFeed could be improved. This remains a very good model, especially when you have an animal subjected to a strict diet at home.
The best high-end food distributors
The high-end models are robust devices and, for the most part, quite sophisticated. Not only can you choose the meal time, but you can also adjust the flow, by choosing the quantity delivered and the speed.
If you are looking for a model that will stand the distance for everyday use, it may be wise to opt for a high-end distributor, which you will keep for many years.
PetSafe Simply Feed: the best high-end
Universal model cat / dog small / large
Supplied without AC adapter
PetSafe's SimplyFeed dispenser offers a wide selection of settings. It must be known from the outset: this model is not the simplest to be taken in hand. But in terms of capacity and accuracy, it ensures!
The SimplyFeed has a first advantage that is obvious: an XL capacity (5.678 L precisely). We will appreciate in passing the transparent tank, which allows to monitor the level easily.
As always, PetSafe pays attention to materials, and this model is equipped with a stainless steel bowl. This bowl is also removable and compatible dishwasher.
Forcibly, given its capacity, the dispenser is not really compact: about 47 cm long, 22 cm wide and 31.5 cm high. Without being exceptional, the black design evokes a small appliance appliance classic, which passes quite well.
The strong point of this distributor is the control options. We start with the basics: Cat Mode or Dog Mode.
You can also create your own program for more precision. It is then possible to program up to 12 meals a day.
You also have a slow distribution, which delivers each meal in a fractional way, in 15 minutes: perfect for animals that have a tendency to throw themselves too quickly on food.
The distributor may have well thought out controls and an LCD screen, so it offers a lot of options. And it is likely that you will need some uses to find your marks.
The dispenser works with 4 D batteries, and unfortunately it does not come with the AC adapter, which you will have to buy independently.
The SimplyFeed is still very powerful: it's worth fighting a little with the user manual to integrate how to program it.
The products of my selection on offer for the moment
The purchase of a food vending machine is done very often in anticipation of an absence of short duration, at the last moment or almost. Bad idea: a somewhat fearful animal could be destabilized, especially since the distributor can be noisy when he starts.
It is therefore necessary to take the precaution of anticipating, so that your little companion tames his new bowl. It is also wise to use a distributor daily.
Not only will it make your life easier, but it's also in your pet's best interest, who will learn to eat reasonably and at set times.
The type of distributor
There are different types of devices on the market. Each corresponds to a specific use.
The dispenser equipped with a timer
It mainly helps to feed your pet during the day, when you are at work. It can be used for a very brief absence (maximum 48 hours).
As the name suggests, it allows you to precisely schedule meal times. Some sophisticated models, such as the PetSafe Simply Feed, also help to measure the amount of food delivered.
The chip distributor
This model only opens in the presence of your pet's chip. It is designed primarily for animals following a specific diet.
It is recommended if you want to feed your little companion outside without a stray animal to use in its bowl. It is also the safest option if you have a toddler at home: he will not be able to touch the food of your little companion, which will save him a doubtful taste experience and which will protect him especially from the risks of wrong way.
WARNING: this device always opens when your pet is approaching. It is therefore reserved for animals that know how to manage their appetite.
It is the size of the tank that determines the autonomy of the dispenser. If you choose a model with a turntable, such as the PetSafe Eatwell, examine the number and capacity of each compartment.
The amount of food recommended depends on different criteria: cat or dog, size, age, activity … In case of doubt, take advice from your veterinarian.
You must also consider your lifestyle: do you often leave your little companion? How many days ?
The configuration of the tank
The majority of tanks are closed, but there are exceptions. So check this criterion because your pet's food will be better protected – and therefore healthier and tastier – if the tank is closed.
For everyday use, a clear tank is more convenient for checking the level of food.
The capacity of the tank is not related to that of the bowl. You can find a dispenser equipped with an XL tank and a mini bowl, and vice versa.
In short: check the dimensions and especially the shape and height of the bowl, so that it is adapted to the size of your animal.
Dispenser or classic bowl: we too often neglect the material of the bowl. Bisphenol A (BPA) is harmful for us … but also for our little companions!
We therefore take care to favor bowls without BPA. You can also bet on stainless steel, a safe bet to avoid any risk of allergy. The dispenser bowl must be removable for easy cleaning.
Some models are also compatible dishwasher.
The number of battery operated food dispensers is surprising. For everyday use, this may seem unacceptable.
It is true that it is not very economical unless you opt for rechargeable batteries. But it can be safer, especially in your absence, because a mischievous animal can inadvertently unplug the power cable.
Some models work both battery and mains. If you opt for a device connected to mains, pay attention to the length of the cable: you must be able to install it easily!
The type of diet
Many distributors want to be adapted to both kibble and wet food. In practice, it is better to be cautious.
Indeed, the wet food type muffin, quickly turned. This is valid in summer, when it is hot, and in winter, when the house is heated.
It is therefore wise to focus on croquettes and offer moist food in a classic bowl. And in our absence? Our little companion will adopt a slightly stricter diet, croquettes and water.
There are two types of programming.
Graduated 30 minutes in 30 minutes or hours in hours, it is not very precise.
It's up to the minute, a great benefit if you work and your pet is diabetic, for example. It also allows you to plan more meals when you need to be away for 2 to 5 days.
Especially since you can adjust many parameters: amount of food, speed etc.
The sound level
At the base, a device that purrs in the background, we do not necessarily appreciate. For our personal comfort, we will check that the food dispenser of our little companion is discreet.
Beware of cascade models, equipped with a turntable or a cover: the noise / movement combo can scare our little companions.
Strength and stability
The food dispenser is perfect for helping a pet a bit too greedy to regulate his appetite, and to prevent him from being overweight.
But cats and dogs are smart enough to watch their dealer and find the weak spot. We will therefore take care to choose a solid and stable model, which resists the onslaught of an animal that intends to use itself!