The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.

~ Mohandas Gandhi ~

The Automatic Dry Cat Food Feeder Fiasco

April 9th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 45 secs

You're not going to leave us with that automatic dry cat food feeder thing are you?

Automatic dry cat food feeders worry me. I used to envision poor cats, parched and thirsty beside a dry food feeder.

I thought an automatic dry cat food feeder could only provide for dry cats. Worse, these machines were probably weird contraptions resembling old 1950s washing machine ringers. Forget positive promotions like, “Try the Felix Super Feeder 5000. The latest breakthrough in automatic dry cat food feeder technology.” I imagined they were little more than a cat food mangle; a cast iron kibble-crushing device that forced cats onto a treadmill to operate. This poorhouse inspired technology, I supposed, probably catered for those too uncaring to feed pets themselves.

But I was wrong. I discovered what an automated cat food feeder is really like. I spied the Cat Mate feeder one day in a pet shop and got inspired. I guess most cat owners think similar thoughts: “With Cat Mate, my famished felines won’t hassle me or try to trip me over when I come home late. Better yet, we can even go away for a couple of days without needing Nosy Mr. Jones to come over for pet feeding.” How convenient. But having an automatic dry cat food feeder was never going to be so easy.

I better explain. First, I came home and excitedly told Ruth, after which she said, “You paid how much?” Yes, it was expensive and, like Jack who sold the family cow for a few lousy beans, the automatic dry cat feeder didn’t look like much. So I tried selling the sizzle to our pets instead. Filling up sections with cat crackers and pretending to eat the kibbles, I tried telling them how good the feeder was.

Never mind that our cats never listen to a word I say anyway. They took one look at the plastic contraption, then at me, and decided Cat Mate wasn’t their “mate” at all. They remained unimpressed by its electronic clockwork features or the fact it had a battery. But I kept promoting: “Load it up, switch it on, fit the lid, and presto, your automatic dry cat food feeder takes care of the rest.”

We went away for a weekend. Leaving, the cats gave us that pleading look. The one that says, “You’re not going to leave us alone are you? We thought you loved us….” Pets are good at generating owner guilt. And no automatic dry cat food feeder is ever going to be as pliable as a guilt-ridden pet owner. Ever.

So what happened? Well, when we left we consoled ourselves that the cats would be having a party with their automatic cat food feeding machine. Checking their wrists (Do cats have wrists?) to see if it’s time to have another cracker crunching top up, they would be having a grand time. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, coming home, we found our felines anxious and starving. Checking the Cat Mate I spotted the problem. Like my neighbor Maud who’s taste runs to concrete dinosaurs in the garden, the Cat Mate, too, had failed to move on. The food was there but it had denied cat access. Like Wallace and Gromit’s techno trousers, the Cat Mate was just hi-tech trouble.

What it your automatic dry cat food feeder only worked sometimes? Would that do? More importantly, what would your hungry felines do? The dry food feeder was an expensive white elephant. A good idea perhaps, but unreliable when your cats really need it.

You know, I hung onto that wretched thing for years, trying to get it to go. But like my cousin Ron, this particular automatic dry cat food feeder never managed to work more than two days a week. Which makes me ask: How much does your cat mean to you? If you love your little feline buddy, then don’t get one of these feeder gadgets without having a back up plan. Otherwise, I can put you in touch with nosy Mr Jones…


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