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If you live in a multiple-cat household, you know that feeding time can be chaotic. One of your cats may be skittish and avoid eating with others, while another might be the tyrant of kibble and push other cats out of the way.

two tabby cats

Having multiple cats can be fun, but can often turn stressful at feeding time.

Feeding in a multi-cat household becomes even more difficult when one of your cats is put on a special diet for health reasons. The special food for your sick cat can’t be shared with your healthy cats, and vice versa. Usually, the only solution to make sure the right cat eats the right food is to schedule separate, supervised feeding times. This solution is difficult for people who work long hours or who travel frequently and cannot always be at home to supervise their cats’ feedings.

The creator of Gatefeeder saw this need when one of his cats was prescribed a special diet, and responded by inventing a smart feeder that would only allow one specific cat to access a reservoir of food.

gatefeeder logo

Logo via gatefeeder.com

We’ve written about automatic pet feeders before, but this one is different. The Gatefeeder is a contained feeder which houses a stainless steel bowl behind a locked door. The cat who eats from the feeder wears a special Smart ID tag on her collar which activates a sensor in the door control mechanism. The cat pushes on the door to activate the sensor, which determines whether or not the right pet is trying to access the food. If it’s the correct cat, the door unlocks and the cat can access the food.

gatefeeder how it works

How it works via gatefeeder.com

According to the creator of Gatefeeder, the design has been tested and revised extensively to ensure reliability and safety. For example, the door of the feeder opens only enough so that the correct cat can enter her head and shoulders to eat. This ensures that the cat cannot become trapped in the feeder or that other pets cannot barge in around or behind the cat while she is eating. After the correct cat has finished eating, she backs out of the feeder and the door closes and locks behind her.

The look of the feeder is minimal and modern, and the compact size means that it can conveniently be placed in even the smallest of spaces. The stainless steel bowl within the feeder is dishwasher-safe and the sealed unit controls pet food odors and spills. Additionally, there is space beneath the feeder for an ice pack if wet food is being stored in the feeder. The feeder can hold enough food for up to one weekend of feeding.

gatefeeder with cat

Cat with Gatefeeder via Gizmodo

The Smart ID tag which activates the feeder is given a distinct code, so multiple Gatefeeders can be used in the same household without cats being able to access Gatefeeders that are not theirs. Additionally, the Gatefeeder website states that the ID tags are virtually indestructible, and offers replacements if your cat’s tag gets lost or damaged. The Gatefeeder is battery operated and the battery should last 8 months to one year before needing to be replaced.

What are the uses of this feeder? As previously described, it was created with the feeding needs of ill pets in multi-cat households in mind. The feeder could also be of use in houses where there is an overweight cat and a cat without weight difficulties. The healthier cat can access her food at any time via the Gatefeeder, but the cat who is prone to overeating is restricted to supervised meals served by the owner. The feeder could also be useful for skittish cats who need a safe, quiet environment in which to eat. Finally, the sealed feeder keeps out dogs or small children who might be tempted by what’s in Fluffy’s bowl.

gatefeeder

The gatefeeder is sealed to keep out any animals other than the cat wearing the Smart ID tag. Photo via gatefeeder.com

Your cat will likely be hesitant at first about eating from the Gatefeeder, especially considering its resemblance to a carrier (unless, of course, your cat is crate trained and has no problem entering plastic boxes). The Gatefeeder site states that cats should become acclimated eventually, despite initial reluctance (food, after all, is an extremely effective incentive).

This feeder is a clever solution to a specific problem, but it’s not necessarily ideal for everyone with multiple pets in their home. The price tag is set at a whopping $250, so it is quite expensive and probably out of reach for many pet owners. Additionally, the small size of the Gatefeeder limits possible users to cats under 20 lbs and small dogs (the feeder is designed specifically for cats, but the website indicates it is safe for small dogs to use).

That being said, if you find yourself with cats who have specific dietary needs that cannot be easily addressed by supervised feedings, the Gatefeeder might be a high-tech solution that can offer you peace of mind in knowing that your cats are getting what they need, even when you’re not there.

orange tabby and white cat

With the Gatefeeder, mealtime conflicts are eliminated and kitty friendships are restored.

Would you use this product? What do you think of the Gatefeeder? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 
 

7 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Hydrated

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 by

If you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that it is a rare sight to see your feline friend lapping up water from his bowl. Dogs will happily drink from a bowl of water, but many cats seem reluctant to drink. This can be problematic for a few reasons.

Hydration is essential to the health of cats, especially those who live or play outside in warmer weather. Additionally, chronic kidney disease is a very common ailment in cats, and as many as 1 in 5 cats will be diagnosed with some type of kidney disease by the time they reach age 15. Kidney function relies heavily on water intake, so cats with kidney problems need even more water than their healthy counterparts. Keeping well-hydrated can also help to prevent common urinary health issues such as urinary tract infections and urinary stones or crystals.

gray cat meowing

“Those ailments sound just dreadful.”

Here are a few tips for making sure kitty gets plenty of water and stays happy and healthy.

1. Keep it Clean

Many owners see that there is water in their pet’s dish and think that is good enough. However, cats prefer to drink fresh water (who doesn’t?) and might turn their nose up at a bowl of water that has been sitting around for a day or two. Change your cat’s water at least once a day. Additionally, be sure to clean your cat’s bowl with soap and water regularly to avoid any slimy bacterial build-up.

2. Try Different Bowls

It will come as no surprise to cat owners that felines tend to be finicky. Maybe your cat doesn’t like the way water tastes when it comes from a certain kind of bowl. Try different kinds of bowls made of various materials (glass, plastic, ceramic, stainless steel) to see if your cat has a preference.

cat eating from steel bowl

Stainless steel pet bowl via Petmate

3. Does This Water Taste Funny to You?

Some cats don’t like the taste of minerals in water and will not want to drink water from the tap in an area with hard water. Try giving your cat bottled or filtered water and see if he prefers it. If your cat still doesn’t drink (or you don’t want to buy bottled water exclusively for the cat), try flavoring tap water with a small amount of tuna juice (the water in which canned tuna is packed) or chicken broth.

4. Provide Sources of Running Water

Maybe you’ve seen your cat (or someone else’s cat on Youtube) playing with running water from a faucet or a stream. Many cats are fascinated by running water—use this fascination to your advantage. To see if your cat is interested in drinking running water, let a faucet run or drip for a few minutes and watch to see if your cat drinks from it. If so, you can make this a routine—turn on the faucet a few times a day to encourage kitty to drink.

gray cat in sink

Peanut is clearly a fan of running water.

Another popular solution for cats who prefer running water is to purchase a cat fountain. The movement of the water in a cat fountain is useful in its ability to both capture the interest of cats as well as keep the water clean and fresh. Cats may at first be a bit confused by the fountains, but  many owners swear by them. Petmate offers several cat fountain options, including one with a UV light to kill pathogens and another with a fun bubbling effect to pique kitty’s curiosity.

infinity cat fountain

Cat drinking from Petmate Infinity Cat Fountain via Petmate

5. Switch to Wet Food

Because cats are not naturally inclined to drink, they get the majority of their water from their food. If your cat eats only dry food, he is missing out on a lot of moisture. Dry food contains only about 10% water, while water accounts for about 80% of canned food.

calico cat

“Did somebody say ‘food’?”

Switching your cat’s food suddenly can cause digestive issues, so try incorporating wet food into your cat’s diet slowly. You can keep feeding your cat dry food and supplement with wet food, replacing about half of his meals with cans. If your cat already eats wet food, try adding a bit more water or broth to his meals to make them even more hydrating.

If your cat doesn’t want to stray from his favorite dry food, try adding a bit of water, tuna juice, or broth to his kibble to add moisture.

6. Place Bowls Strategically

Offer several dishes of water around the house for your cat to choose from. Place the bowls where your cat likes to hang out. Be sure to avoid placing bowls near your cat’s litter box, as he will likely not want to drink there.

7. Know Your Cat’s Preferences!

Cats can be picky, so the best thing to do is figure out what your cat likes and stick with that. If he always tries to drink from your glass, leave him glasses of water around the house. If he’s enjoyed ice cubes in the past, add ice cubes to his food or water. If he never drinks from his ceramic bowl but loves drinking from the metal rainwater bucket outside, replace his bowls with metal ones.

Cats may not always be expressive, but careful observation can lead to a better understanding of your cat’s preferences and better accommodation of those preferences to meet his hydration needs.

orange tabby sink cat

Because a post can never have enough sink cats.

Is your cat a reluctant drinker? What do you do to encourage your cat to drink? Tell us your stories in the comments below!