Monday, October 27, 2014

Pet Feedster

I've never worked with a fully automated pet feeder before, so when I was asked if I wanted to review one, I jumped at the chance! The manufacturer sent me the feeder and asked for my candid review, so here it is.

Let me introduce you to the Pet Feedster (Model: PF-10), a fully automated pet feeder, or as Theo sees it, a slot machine-like device that yields a tasty jackpot! More about Theo's response in a minute, first let me tell you about the Feedster.


It's advertised as Jam Proof, Ant Proof, and Kibble-Theft Proof! It holds up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of dry food and has a nice little window on the front of the storage bin to give you a view of how much food remains. Because it works on batteries and/or AC power, it can be used inside or outside (in a covered space of course). The unit is good size and quite stable even though it's surprisingly light. It's dimensions (per my measurements) are 18-19" deep (with bowl attached), 13.5" wide, and about 16.25" tall (47 cm x 34 cm x 41 cm).

There is only a small amount of assembly required out of the box. It comes with a feeding dish, power adaptor, FlexFeed auger, instructions, post-it-notes and a cat chute attachment, which keeps cats from stealing extra food! I'm not sure what the post-it-notes are for, at first I thought it was to set reminders for something, but as I started using it, I realized no reminders are needed, so they must just be a little extra marketing material.

Take a look at this flyer that came in the box:

"Kibble Theft Proof" eh? Well, Theo will for sure give that a thorough testing!

There are three things to do when setting it up, first thing is to install the FlexFeeder auger device inside the unit. This little thing is what the motor turns to dispense the food.
Theo checks out the FlexFeeder
The device has three settings based on the size of the kibble. They provide a little chart telling you which size to select for the size of the kibble you use. The cat food I use is fairly small, so, I set it to the Small setting. It's really easy to set, no tools are required, just hold it and gently twist. Once set, you place the FlexFeeder into the main body of the unit, again pretty easy.

The anti-theft cat chute attachment attaches with two screws that are provided. I didn't see anywhere in the instructions that spoke about attaching this piece, but it's rather obvious and easy to do.

Then comes the programming. I'm fairly adept at programming things, and this was fairly straight forward once you go through it once with the instructions. One of the first things it has you do is to set the food quantity dispensed. This is one thing I really like about this feeder is that it will dispense the exact amount of food you want based on the kibble you are using. What you do is place a measuring cup under the chute and press a button to get it to start dispensing and once the exact amount of desired food is dispensed you press the button again which stops it, then you write down the Quantity number that is shown on the display. That number will corresponds to how long it took to dispense the amount of food you want dispensed.

Then comes programming feeding times and food quantity. You can program it to feed five meals a day! (Don't tell Theo that!!) And you can tell it exactly how much to dispense at every meal, so each feeding can have a different quantity. The clock runs on 24-hour time (military time) so, for those not used to that, a little brain work is required or they provide a handy conversion chart in the instructions.

On the back of the unit is a Quick Set-Up sticker, which is handy.
Ok, enough with the words, lets see some action...

Theo and Nahum knew from the start that food was somehow involved

Theo checks out how this thing works 

Theo: Dang that anti-kibble-theft chute attachment!


Nahum: Nothing to see here, move along

I programmed it to dispense just a few nuggets after they got familiar with it.
Jackpot!!

nom, nom, nom...

nom, nom, nom...

Theo: What did I do to get this thing to yield it's bounty?!?! Must keep trying...


Then comes the vigil - waiting for the machine to dispense more!

A feeder like this is really geared for a single cat or a couple of "normal" cats. If I was to use this with Theo and the other inside cats, no one would get any food except for Theo, and he would be routinely stuffed! So, I brought it out for Bert to try.


Bert is more representative of a "normal" cat, he likes food, but he's not obsessed with it. He free-feeds throughout the day. So, I setup the feeder to dispense a little less than 1/2 cup of food in the morning and evening. As you can see, the food piles up below the chute.

Bert: You gotta problem Mac? 
I was not able to test the "Ant Proof" claim due to lack of ants, but it seems like a good idea. What makes it ant-proof is that you can fill the bottom section with water, which functions like a moat and prevents the ants from crawling into the food storage part. However, I would think they could still get to the food bowl part, but maybe that's of less concern since the kitty or dog will probably eat that food shortly after dispensing.


In the week I've been using it, it's not jammed at all. The kibble I'm using is small and roundy, I wonder how the larger Science Diet triangle kibble that I used to use would work. Might be something for future testing.

Some AWESOME features that I like about this feeder:
  • Battery backup! This feeder can run on batteries (6-D) or on AC power. They say using batteries alone will provide 4-5 months of use. We had a Fall windstorm a few days ago where the power was flickering, which made me realize what a great feature having the battery backup is. Without the batteries, if the power goes out, you will lose your programming and your kitty will be hungry! The sticker on the back says "If the power goes out, the programming will be preserved for a short time" - however that did not prove true for me. 
  • Food bowl is dishwasher safe! Which means easy to keep clean.
  • LCD screen is brightly backlit when you press a button making it easy to see.
  • The motor that spins to dispense the food is not super loud. As it runs, the food comes down the chute into the bowl.
  • I like the peace of mind that comes from knowing Bert will get his dinner regardless of how late I come home from work.
Things I wish were different:
  • I feed my cats in ceramic or stainless steel bowls. I don't use plastic because in the past I've had problems with plastic causing chin acne. A stainless steel replacement bowl as an accessory for this feeder would be awesome. An easy remedy is that you don't have to use the provided food bowl/tray, you can remove it and use your own bowl below the chute, you just need to make sure the cat doesn't move the bowl from under the chute!
  • The programming and button arrangement could be a bit more user-friendly. It would also help if the button labels were a little bigger or a lighter colored font, my eyesight is failing as I get older and it's hard to read! I don't want to make a big deal of this because the programming is not really that hard, you just have to follow the outlined procedure found in the instructions. And since I won't be changing the programming very often, I'll need to keep the instructions handy.
You can find out more about this feeder at PetFeedster.com. It's available directly on their website or from Amazon.com - Pet Feedster USA PF-10 CAT Pet Feedster Automated Pet Feeder For Cats. I'm not sure if it's sold in stores, I hope so. The Amazon.com price of this posting is $215.00 USD. Not having tried other automatic portion control feeders, I can't really compare the price of this feeder to others, but I can say the quality of this one is really good. I'm not the only one saying that too, it has a lot of positive reviews on Amazon.com (32 of the current 41 are 5-stars!) I would rate it 5-stars as well.

If you have any questions about the feeder, leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them. Thanks to Winoe Corp for sending me the Pet Feedster to review and to Sunny Park for inventing such a great device!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

inside-kitty-wanna-be

Oliver's making a very compelling case for being an inside-kitty. He sure does LOVE being inside!


Too bad he's so territorial and urine marks everything!  I really wish I could leave him inside forever.


He hasn't had the chance to come inside in quite some time as I've had way too much going on and haven't had time to hang out with him. Because of his spraying behavior, when he's inside he needs to have constant supervision, otherwise I'll find a messy, unpleasant surprise! Yuck!


As you can see, he's started chewing off his furs again. For most of the summer he took a break from that behavior and let his furs grow out - he looked great! But about a month or so ago, he started again. I have no idea why he does it. I've tried all sorts of things to stop the spraying and fur chewing but nothing seems to work. He's still my Oliver and I'm crazy about him!

Friday, October 17, 2014

a week of texts

A sampling of received text messages from the past week. I'll let you guess who did the sending and who did the receiving!


Oct 14, 2014 10:05 am
Wish there was room for me in there! :)

Oct 15, 2014 10:03 am
Not much left of the kitty fort today, but enough for Rose to enjoy!

Oct 15, 2014 2:01 pm
Theo and Nahum kindly offer to help Buddy with his lunch.

Oct 15, 2014 2:06 pm
Now Buddy’s offering to help me with my lunch! How considerate!

Oct 15, 2014 2:39pm
Lovefest! Bert’s coat is really soft and shiny. He’s lookin good!

Oct 16, 2014 7:30 am
Rose looks like she’s wondering if she’s gonna get a fort to hang out in today.

Oct 16, 2014 7:51am
In case you don’t believe me. She’s already taken up residence too.

Oct 17, 2014 2:47 pm
Dashboard Oliver!

Oct 17, 2014 3:09pm
It appears there was a siege while I was away.

Oct 17, 2014 3:27pm
If competitive cheese sauce licking was an Olympic sport,
we would have a few gold metals hanging on our wall.


What do people with no cats text each other during the week?! Must be so boring!

Friday, October 10, 2014

the adventures of Bert


It's been a week of many adventures for sweet Bert.


When one steps into the PTU, you never knows where it may take you...

First stop: my office!


Monday was declared, Bring Your Rescue Kitty To Work Day!



Bert sniffed and sniffed, giving everything a thorough inspection before he said he was tired and needed a nap. So, back home we went.

Then today, he headed back to the PTU - this time, so we could walk over to the vet.


The vampire vet wanted some more of his blood - to test for the nasty little bugs that have been living in the blood. His red cell count was in the perfect range, so he's got a clean bill of health!! Go Bert!! He also gained nearly a pound since his last visit about a month ago! He likes his foods, but what's wrong with that?!


I think I have the best vet on the planet - she has continued to be incredibly generous with Bert's medical care, donating her time and significantly discounting the diagnostic work. She knows he's a rescue, who needed some help. A big thank you to my awesome vet!! ( I don't hold the vampire thing against her.)

Next stop in the PTU... inside the house, like a real inside kitty!


Feline ambassador Nahum, always the first to greet the newcomers with a sniff.


Bert's been hanging out in the garage until all the parasites living in his blood were exterminated. Now that he's free of bugs, he can come inside! Yea!!!!

This first time was just a short visit. He met all the cats except for Willow. There was a bit of hissing, but otherwise all went perfect. Over the weekend he'll be getting more and more time integrated with the general population! Yah for Bert!

Happy Weekend to you!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

finally Friday

You know it's Friday after a long week when...


Your feral cat is passed out, belly up in the weeds.


Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hershey hangout happiness

I recently had the joy of having lunch with Mike, Hershey's dad and guess what? Mike invited me to hangout with Hershey before lunch! I wasn't going to pass up that chance!


I forget how incredibly soft he is.


He's one adorably sweet boy, who's filled with delightful personality.


My heart always fills with joy when I get to visit sweet Hershey. Oh, and my visit with Mike was fun too! What a wonderful pair these two make. It's so heartwarming to see how much they both truly adore each other.

Monday, September 22, 2014

a full day

I had some reading to do for work this morning, so I went out to the garage to hang out with Bert. I think he liked the company.


I know I did!


When I look at these pictures of Bert, I think about how I was so close to releasing him back to the TNR site because he was bitey and swatty. I'm so grateful I gave him more time as he really turned a corner! Hopefully he's destined to be a spoiled inside kitty for the rest of his life.


Buddy's slowly going downhill. His age is catching up to him as evidenced by a number of little things. He eats as he always has (like a horse), but he's slowly losing weight. He feels and looks frail. His back legs are very unsteady and tremble. He's starting to hork more. And he's been sporting that "I'm not feeling so good" look. I think I may make an appointment for him to get some diagnostics. I would appreciate purrs for his wellbeing.


I recently bought Buddy another heating pad. He's got two now and I'm about to get him another. He needs one for each of his favorite spots.


Oliver enjoys sprawling in his heated loft bed on the back porch.

I heard some very sad news today. John, a friend and fellow TNR guy who caretakes a small backyard colony of black feral cats, lost one of his beloved cats today. Apparently Uncle got hit by a car in the road. Breaks my heart to hear of a loved feral passing away like this. Even more sad is that John was making great progress taming Uncle and had visions of him becoming an inside cat. Rest in peace sweet Uncle, know you are dearly loved.

John's beautiful feral family: Grandma, Little Mama, and Uncle all posing in front of their heated and insulated home that John built for them.
photo courtesy of John
This news significantly heightened my anxiety about Oliver and his family being outside. We live near some busy roads. Every day I see them alive and well I give thanks for another day.


Over the summer I've been locking Oliver on the back porch at night for his safety. If I don't, he'll go roaming and pick fights with neighbor cats. A few months ago, Pierre decided that he wanted to be locked on the back porch with Oliver every night. After Oliver is secured, Pierre shows up outside the screen door and waits to be let in. I love having both of them secured each night, that way I know they are both safe. I only wish MK and Nora would join him!


Fulfilling Pierre's wish posed quite the logistical challenge due to the fact that he's still semi-feral and keeps a distance from me. The solution involves the use of fancy technology - a string! It's tied it to the handle on the guillotine door. The string goes up to the ceiling and across the room to the mudroom door and back down. When it's time to lock Oliver away, I close the guillotine cat door by hand and then go over to the other end of the room and pull the string which opens the guillotine door and Pierre hops right in!  Old school but it works.