We take a look at the Andrew James Automatic Pet Feeder, an automatic feeder for cats
Occasionally we need to leave the house for a night or so. Long enough that we’ll be out whilst the cats need feeding, but not long enough to warrant a cat sitter/friend to check in on them. We’re not big fans of catteries — although there are some wonderful local catteries, owning a slightly anxious rescue cat means we’d rather keep him at home — which leaves the pet feeder as the next logical option. Combined with a water fountain to ensure a constant supply of fresh water, this can be a great option for people who work shifts or are out in the mornings and evenings. We wanted a feeder that wasn’t too expensive, but also had the capacity should we need to go away for longer. Enter the Andrew James Automatic Pet Feeder.
A bit about automatic cat feeders
The market for cat feeders (and pet feeders in general) is large, and there’s a wide range of models on Amazon ranging from around £15.00 all the way up to over £100.00. The features vary massively as well; cheaper models include just a timer and latch, whilst more expensive models such as the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder include a microchip reader to stop your cat’s food being stolen by other cats (read their excellent guest post on this here). We’d not heard of the manufacturer Andrew James before our purchase, but they seem to sell everything from fans to ice cream makers, as well as the cat feeder above. It’s also worth noting that this may be a generic unit, as a very similar looking model is also available to buy on Amazon.
The feeder is advertised with the following key features:
- Choose the time and quantity that your cats eat
- Large 10.6 litre / 45 cup capacity lasts for up to 90 days
- A built-in microphone allows you to record a 6 second voice message that plays at meal times
- Smart sensor prevents over-feeding, and lockable pet-proof lid with tamper proof clasps stops greedy cats getting in
- Parts detach for easy cleaning
- The feeder includes 2 Year Warranty
First impressions are mixed. The unit is large, fairly sturdy and easy to assemble. The plastic is a bit cheap and flimsy, although it’s worth mentioning that in over two years of ownership it’s not cracked or broken. It won’t win any prizes for its looks (the previously mentioned SureFeed model and this feeder from CatMate are, to our eyes at least, much more appealing) but we liked the features and size for the price.
The hopper is large and we’ve no trouble believing the 90 days’ capacity claim, although it’s worth noting that this feeder is only suitable for a dry food, which also makes it suitable for dogs. The feeder takes four of the giant ‘D’ size batteries (like these) which result in a very good battery life. If you only ever take this out and use it occasionally, you should find that these rarely need changing. There’s also a low battery warning LED on the reverse.
Using the feeder
In use is where things start to unravel for the Andrew James Automatic Pet Feeder. The power switch is on the bottom, and once powered up the feeder cycles through a ‘feed’, where by the mechanism rotates, causing any food stored in the feeder to fall out — not ideal if it’s not feeding time! We get round this by holding it upside down with the lid on. The unit is also really noisy, making an intrusive, drawn-out whirring sound whenever it activates. The voice recording function, whilst a nice idea, doesn’t work particularly well in practice and we found the speaker very poor quality. The mechanism is so loud that the cats come racing in as soon as they hear it anyway! The real problem though is the setup and control panel.
This is probably the most unintuitive, complicated… thing we’ve ever had to deal with setting up. Degrees in rocket science/brain surgery surely can’t be as hard as remembering the sequence of buttons to press on the feeder just to set the time!
Our first tip should you purchase the Andrew James Automatic Pet Feeder is ‘don’t lose the instructions’! To their credit, Andrew James host all of their instruction manuals, so if — like us — you lose the instructions or throw them out in a “I don’t need instructions” moment, keep this link bookmarked. We tend to use ours once every couple of months or so, usually at the last minute before heading away for a weekend, and every single time we have to find the instructions and go through the setup process again. It’s tedious, time consuming and a little frustrating, and our main gripe with the feeder is that it’s not as easy to setup as it should be.
Another problem we’ve found is that the feeder only really works well with a good amount of food in the hopper. The bottom of the hopper is fairly shallow, so if there’s not much kibble inside, it doesn’t tend to come out when the feeder activates. Definitely not ideal for hungry kitties, so remember to make sure it’s at least 1/3 of the way full.
One concern we did have was our cats knocking the feeder over as it stands quite tall. These concerns proved unfounded, as not only is the unit quite heavy (especially when full), but the lid is very secure when locked into place.
The Andrew James Automatic Pet Feeder is one of the bigger capacity feeders on the market under £50.00, with a claimed capacity of up to 90 days’ worth of meals. It’s certainly not the highest quality product we’ve ever come across, with the plastic feeling quite cheap, but it’s not broken or cracked. The battery life is very good and the scheduling and portion controls are both fairly comprehensive, but setting the thing up is an absolute nightmare.
So would we recommend it? Possibly. If you’re on a budget and looking for a dry food feeder with a large capacity, this is a fairly cost-effective choice as long as you keep in mind that’s it’s far from a perfect product. If you’re looking for a wet feeder without the capacity which is easier to setup and less intrusive, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.
The feeder is available to buy from Amazon for £32.99 plus £7.99 delivery.
We’re in the process of putting together a list of some of the best automatic cat feeders on the market, but here are a few feeders that come highly recommended by cat owners:
The CatMate C20 Automatic 2 Meal Feeder
If you recognise the name CatMate, it’s because we’ve covered their pet fountain in a previous post. They make affordable, well thought out, no-nonsense products for cat owners and at under £30.00 their automatic feeder is no different. The feeder includes just two compartments, but the timers are simple and the design means both wet or dry food can be stored. The feeder is easy to clean and even includes a built in ice pack to keep wet food fresh — what a great idea.
The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder
On the other end of the price range is the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder, an automatic cat feeder designed too work with your pet’s microchip. The sealed bowl keeps food fresh, and because your cat is the only cat that can trigger the feeder to open, other cats can’t wander in and steal your food! It’s not the cheapest feeder on the market, but with excellent customer reviews and fantastic customer service the SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder is an excellent choice if it fits your requirements.
The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder available to buy on Amazon for £77.99 with free delivery.
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