Cats are famously independent animals, but as beloved domesticated pets, it’s still tough to leave them at home alone for long periods of time. It can be particularly tricky if you don’t have a friendly neighbor or trusted friend who can pop in to feed your cat while you’re away. Plus, unless it’s a rare occasion, it can start to feel like liberty even if you do.
Some cat parents rely on leaving their furry friends at a cattery while away. Admittedly some of the catteries around these days are the height of luxury – but they come at a cost. Additionally, if you’re only going away for a day or two, it’s a lot of bother, and if you’re going away for a little longer, it can get quite expensive.
So, what is the solution for going away for a few days and leaving kitty at home? Automatic cat feeders, of course! (And pet insurance, but that’s a conversation for another day)
We’ve reviewed some automatic cat feeders before. Now, we’re switching our attention to one in particular, the Petlibro automatic cat feeder.
This overview is based on their Essential Automatic Feeder model, although the brand offers a range of feeders with differing features.
Overall design – specifications, features, and practicalities
Packaging and user guide
Thoughtfully packaged and includes a quick-start guide and user manual. Unlike so many user guides, the Petlibro comes with one that is written clearly and easy to follow.
Large feeding unit
Measuring 7.5 inches wide, 7.5 inches deep, and 12 inches high, the square feeding unit features plastic housing with rounded corners. The main body is matte white, while the lid is black with small side indentations for easy removal.
The bowl is stainless steel, which is great for keeping clean, preventing any bacteria buildup, and avoiding scratches and scuffs. It has a depth of just 2 inches, making it a versatile choice for smaller pets, who can feed from it in a relaxed position instead of struggling to reach over the edge to get to their food, particularly once it’s running low.
The overall weight of the feeder when empty is 4.7 pounds, so nice and lightweight for moving around or storing when not in use.
The hopper’s capacity is four liters (16.9 ounces), which is quite generous by many automatic feeder standards. Petlibro rates this capacity as being sufficient to feed one cat for 25 days, and ten days for a dog.
Remember, though, that these estimates are based on the typical diets of a 10-pound cat or a dog weighing 22 pounds, so be sure to calculate it based on your pet’s weight and usual portion sizes.
Very straightforward – peel off any protective tape, attach the food bowl, place the desiccant package in its holder (underside of the lid), plug in the power cord, and you’re ready to go.
On the front of the hopper is a basic control panel. There is a reset button, a voice recording button, and a larger button for manually feeding your pet. The manual feeding button is handy for when you are home or training your pet to get accustomed to the automatic feeder.
The LCD display on the hopper provides useful information, such as how many portions have been served, which meal your cat is on, etc. There is also a battery indicator displayed, so you can easily know whether there is enough backup power before going away.
The unit comes with a power cord but can also operate on 3 x D batteries (not included) – this is great for peace of mind in the event of a power outage while you’re away. The AC power adapter features a six-foot cord.
Ideally, run the unit on electricity and change the batteries every few months to ensure that they always have enough juice to be relied upon if the power does cut out while you’re away.
The feeder connects to the internet via WiFi, although you will need to run through the initial set-up using your phone. Included in the packaging is a card with a QR code. Scan the code, follow the prompts to install the Petlibro app and then pair it with your new feeder. You’ll then be prompted to enter your WiFi password, after which the feeder should be connected.
The feeder requires a wireless network of 2.4GHz or more to connect, but most routers support this, so you are unlikely to run into any trouble.
Petlibro’s automatic feeder is designed to deliver kibble, and the unit features a bracket on the inside of the lid to place a desiccant pack to help keep the food dry. If you only use the feeder occasionally, moisture won’t be much of a concern. If, however, you use it daily, you will need to change the desiccant pack regularly.
The feeder is easy to disassemble and clean, with minimal separate parts or difficult-to-reach nooks and crannies to clean. Not recommended for a dishwasher, but easy enough to clean without.
Control features and options
The feeder will allow for up to 10 meal configurations per day – surely more than you’ll ever need. In addition, you can set a different portion size for each meal.
Petlibro has set one portion to equate to approximately 2.5 teaspoons of food, and you can set a meal to dispense anywhere from 1 to 12 of these portions. Twelve portions work out to be around a half-cup of food – sufficient for most cats and small dogs.
Network connectivity requirements
The app also allows you to activate an impromptu manual feeding via the phone app, which is handy if your plans change and you’re away from home longer than anticipated. Most functions, such as meal scheduling and portion adjustment, require you to be on the same network as the automatic feeder, but manual feeding can be done from anywhere.
The unit features a voice recording function, allowing you to record up to 10 seconds of a personalized message for your fur baby. This is not only handy for training and familiarizing your pet with the machine, but is a nice addition for staying more connected with your pet while away.
Additional features across the range
As outlined, this overview is based on Petlibro’s Essential Automatic Feeder (RRP $69.99), but their full range features a range of options. For example, some feature cylindrical hoppers, double food trays, and more. You can view the full range at petlibro.com/collections.
Very few! The manual feed button on the front of the hopper cannot be deactivated. If you have a particularly cluey pet, they may work out how to activate it and feed themselves, or play with it until the hopper is empty. That said, it would take a fair amount of concentrated precision for a cat to achieve this, so the risk is relatively minimal.
It isn’t ideal that you can only set the meal and portion schedules on the same WiFi. Still, so long as you remember to set them before you leave the house, you can avoid having to activate manual feeds while away.
The Petlibro Automatic feeders are an innovative, robust yet lightweight option for remote pet feeding. They offer a wide range of feeding settings and portion controls, as well as stainless steel bowls and flexible options such as double feeders. If you have one or two small cats or dogs, you won’t find a better automatic feeder for peace of mind while you’re away.
Disclaimer: We were given product or compensation in exchange for an honest review. The Catington Post is dedicated to finding the best products for cats and we will never recommend a product that we don’t love.