Keeping your cat fed while you're busy or on vacation can be a bit of a challenge if your not able to have a pet sitter. Cat feeders are cheap and easy to put together using the recyclable materials found in most homes.
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While you can buy a manufactured cat feeder, it's relatively easy to make your own from recyclable materials. Many websites offer instructions for making an automatic cat feeder from VCR parts. But for those who are less technologically savvy, you just need are scissors, a two-liter bottle of soda and an oval petfood bowl. Cut the top off the soda bottle just below the curve of the spout (about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the bottle), then cut a round 2-inch-wide-by-3-inch-high "door" (think of the shape of a mouse hole in old cartoons). Make sure the bottle fits perfectly into the Petfood oval bowl. The bottle should fit tightly enough that it doesn't shift while still leaving enough room for the cat's head. A top lip bowl will help keep the bottle stable. To use, fill the bottle with the cat food, position the bowl over it like a lid and turn it upside down. The cat food should spill out of the hole in the bowl.
More automatic pet feeders rely on gravity to work, which means that as your cat eats, more food will spill down to take up the space it just emptied. For this to work optimally, the container holding the food needs to stay upright. This can be difficult with playful felines who seem to love spilling things. For this reason, you should take the time to find (or make) a space to put the feeder. A recessed niche can be a good option, although under a shelf or in a cabinet can work, too. If possible, try to cover the top of the feeder as well. The idea is to protect the heavy top container from being knocked over, broken into or knocked over.
Cats can gain a lot of weight with the help of a driver, because there is always food available and nothing to overfeed. This can be terrible for their health, so you can fill the feeder once a day with a normal amount of food for each day. If you use the feeder to feed your pets when you are away, you may want to look into more complex feeder designs that limit the output. On Youtube there are several tutorials on the introduction of an "automatic cat feeder fed by the cat". This unique design is similar to zoo feeders for primates. It teaches your cat how to make a treat, provides exercise, and forces your cat to slow down enough to realize that it is already full.
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