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Lifewire / Sandra Stafford
Fully customizable meal size
Easily opens for refilling
Battery life indicator
Small capacity requires frequent refilling
Pets may damage exposed parts
Does not include stainless steel bowl
No power adapter option
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is an inexpensive pet feeder that accommodates a busy schedule, allowing you to feed your pet on time regardless of where you are.
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is an easy-to-use automatic feeder that takes the thought out of feeding your pet while traveling or at work. Meal sizes of up to one cup allow you to put the perfect amount of food in each serving, and different programming options promise to space out your pet’s meals to suit your schedule. To see how good the PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is at streamlining a busy life, we spent weeks testing at home with our pets.
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is about the size of a four-slice toaster, with a footprint of 15.7 by 9.6 inches. Its small footprint ensures that it can be tucked out of the way in apartments and houses of any size. The machine itself is light, weighing only 2.85 pounds before any food is added, so it is easy to lift for refilling or relocating.
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is a reasonably priced automatic feeder with a sturdy design that should last years.
Durable BPA-free plastic makes up the entire body of the machine. The clear lid is opened and closed with an easy turning motion. We even tested it with an open palm across the lid to see if it could be removed by those without grip strength, such as the elderly. It never gave us any trouble to open.
Our pets, on the other hand, were never able to open it. Non-skid feet kept a large German Shepherd from knocking it around as he ate, which gave us the confidence to place it on a shelf to test it with a cat. It stayed exactly where we put it.
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder uses four D-cell batteries. There is no option to plug the feeder into the wall. The batteries should last nine months and a battery life indicator on the LED panel offers some assurance, but the company still suggests changing the batteries before going away on a trip and leaving your pets unattended. We like battery-powered machine for the ability to place it anywhere, but with so many pet feeders on the market offering power adapters, this is a major shortcoming in an otherwise great pet feeder.
After inserting four D-cell batteries, setting the clock and meal time is intuitive. We were able to do it without a manual. Our only complaint was that the arrow buttons were unresponsive at times. A long button press speeds through time rapidly, so setting up the feeder doesn’t take long at all. The feeder has six possible meals to set the time for. Only setting one means you can go days without refilling.
After inserting four D-cell batteries, setting the clock and meal time is intuitive.
Once the clock and meals are set, the machine should be loaded with food. Each of the six slots holds up to one cup of food. Because the portion is determined by the user, there is no complicated matter of programming a serving size. Almost any bowl under 1.25 inches would work with the machine, but the plastic one included in the box slots into place and won’t slide around on the floor. A lot of pets have plastic allergies, so we wish the bowl at least had a stainless steel interior.
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder has a simple carousel design that is capable of handling food of almost any size. Food is loaded into compartments by the user, and at the designated time the carousel rotates one compartment, dropping food into a bowl.
Turning the tray to dispense a meal takes under two seconds, a process that is faster and quieter than feeders that dispense meals in small portions. The build of the feeder ensured that we never had problems with food of any size, unlike other feeders which can struggle with larger food. After testing a few other pet feeders, we think the PetSafe Six Meal Feeder had the best design.
Some reviews suggested possible problems with the plastic door covering the buttons. There is no latching mechanism, which is another benefit for those with mobility problems, but that means that the buttons are left vulnerable. Hungry cats may chew at every exposed part of a machine in their attempts to get in. We did not have this problem, but it is worth mentioning.
Rather than try to prevent cats from reaching up into the food compartments of the machine, PetSafe leaves the compartment above the chute completely exposed.
Another common problem with automatic feeders is keeping persistent cats from learning how to access the food. One-way doors or hatches are often used, but they can hurt or trap paws. Rather than try to prevent cats from reaching up into the food compartments of the machine, PetSafe leaves the compartment above the chute completely exposed. It sounds counterintuitive but actually works very well in keeping cats from freeing the food, because the only compartment they can reach is an empty one. The chute is low enough to the ground that our cat was never able to open the other meal slots.
Each meal slot in the feeder contains up to one cup, which is also the capacity of the bowl. Almost any pet greater than fifteen pounds will require more food than that per day. Smaller feeders struggle to dispense the large pellets that most large dog food contains, but the PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Feeder never got clogged. When we tested it with a large dog, we were able to go two days between refilling.
Selling for between $70 and $85, with an MSRP at $84.99, the PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is one of the cheapest automatic feeders on the market. There is a cheaper five-meal option available from PetSafe for under $60, but most of the cheaper options are gravity feeders, which drop food as pets consume it. For households with multiple pets who require feeding schedules to maintain a healthy weight, an automatic pet feeder in this price range is definitely the better choice.
With many other automatic feeders to choose from under $90, the PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder stands out for its large portion sizes and quick dispensing of meals. The Arf Pets Automatic Feeder has a larger capacity of around 18 cups, which means it can go longer between refilling. On the other hand, it dispenses servings in tiny amounts of 1/8 of a cup, so the longer feeding time is a little annoying for larger pets if you’ll be home to hear it. Weighing the quieter, quicker Six Meal Feeder against the larger-capacity Arf Pets feeder, the superior choice will depend on your pet and how much food they need per meal.
An inexpensive and no-frills choice
The PetSafe Six Meal Automatic Pet Feeder is a reasonably priced automatic feeder with a sturdy design that should last years. It boasts capacity that can let you go days before refilling, though those with larger pets will want one that has a higher serving size.