Crazy Cat People, I need your hacks.
January 5, 2013 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Is the CatMate C50 really the only game in town for feeding wet food in a way that doesn't fill me with dread about bacteria?

So we ordered two of the CatMate C50 feeders (reluctantly) because we need to feed our cats 4x/day and we need to feed them wet food (many reasons; we supplement with a small amount of kibble but there are kidneys involved here so don't suggest all kibble please).

We chose this one because it seems be the only one that comes with the ability to keep food cool. Since they're getting 1/4 can at a time, it seems rather prudent and important to try to retard the growth of bacteria, no?

Well the things arrived and it seems once you get the cover off, it's nearly impossible for myself or my spouse to get it back on in a way that is similar to when it comes out of the box. The cover is loose, and I'm pretty sure that with a whole day to think about it, the fat cat could remove it and eat everything. Is there anything else we can use or hack to keep the food cool?

For reference, we like this one, not least for the reason that we can record a message (the one cat is pretty tuned to being called for meals and we're both about to change jobs and need him to eat without us). We're going to make a feeding box for the skinny cat, which is why we need two feeders.
posted by Medieval Maven to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't used either feeder but wanted to suggest you could freeze canned cat food into appropriate sized portions and load the frozen food into the later-in-the-day feeding slots. This would allow you to choose an auto feeder based on its robust performance rather than its ability to hold an ice pack.
posted by jamaro at 10:21 AM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Feel your pain. I've been trying and failing to get one to work consistently for months. My cat has never managed to get the lid off but that's about the only positive thing I can say for it.

If you MeMail me with your IRL email address I'll forward you the email exchange I had with the vendor in which they've accepted that the design of the C50 is flawed. Mine is being returned for a refund on Monday. This might be a better solution as the whole tray rotates and there's no fiddly spring-loaded ratchet system.
posted by dmt at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2013

I've used the CatMate C20 for years with great success. It is simply-designed and dependable. It comes with a re-usable ice pack, so I've never worried about bacteria growth.
posted by shw at 12:22 PM on January 5, 2013

I've done the frozen food thing before, though not with an auto-feeder. My cat is initially excited because she knows that bowl=food, but then she sniffs it, figures out how cold it is, and decides it might not be food after all. I only do this when we have to be away overnight, so I don't know how long she waits before the food becomes acceptable, but it's always gone when we get home the next day and she's never had any ill effects from this method, so jamaro's suggestion to match frozen food with a different feeder might work.
posted by BlooPen at 1:23 PM on January 5, 2013

I know where you are coming from, but Dr. Lisa Pierson advises "I do not worry about leaving canned food out for up to 12 hours at a time. Keep in mind that a lion is not going to eat his entire prey immediately." Her site can be found here.

Of course, that doesn't solve your problem about needing your cats to not eat everything at once, but it is reassuring re: the bacteria concern. That being said, I find that it helps to place my cat auto feeder in a box so my cat is less likely to tip it over, etc.
posted by analog at 5:14 PM on January 5, 2013

I tried a feeder like this once, and wound up with ants. Just a recommendation to figure out some kind of moat setup -- especially since I see you're in Atlanta -- before ant season starts.
posted by amtho at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2013

Desert perspective:
As long as you don't get bugs, you''re fine. Cat food (especially the higher quality) will tend to get dry. Drop some distilled water in the bowl.

A cat with kidney issues is going to be almost maniacal about water. If you're trying to help the cat lose fat, please do it slowly. (Breaking down fat releases a lot of toxins into the blood -which then overwhelms the kidneys.)
posted by BenevolentActor at 5:47 AM on January 6, 2013

Thanks guys.

dmt: memailing you now . .

I'm thinking we will try the freezing method or else build some kind of contraption to keep things cooler for them.

Re: Kidneys - helpfully the fat one isn't the one with the verifiably probably not good kidney issues. In September they both spent 3-4 days in the ICU because the skinny one (who's on cancer: round 2 at the moment) got into some flowers that I didn't know were poisonous until too late. The fat one went in, too, because we couldn't tell if she had been into it as well, but she had likely groomed him, and he was covered in lily pollen (yes, even the pollen is poison). So I know the skinny male cat was in it - he looked like he'd been in a bag of cheetos - but she's less of a concern (and her kidney numbers over the 3 days of preventative care bear that out). They have a water fountain that the skinny one has always loved with the fire of a thousand burning suns, so we're good on that count I think.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2013

FYI we just have accepted that the feeders keep things acceptable on their own - we went with 2 C20s, that we refill in the morning for them. It works. Fat cat is still fat though.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:04 PM on April 12, 2013

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