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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.

 
 

Have you ever wondered what your pet gets up to when you’re not around? Maybe shoes are going missing and you think your furry friend is the culprit. Or maybe your cat’s poker-face makes you wonder whether it is really her knocking things off the counter or if building your house on an old graveyard really wasn’t the best idea. Maybe you just want to know what life looks like through the eyes of your pet.

eyenimal logo

Eyenimal creates video cameras specifically designed to be used and worn by your pet.

No matter your motivation, Eyenimal video cameras can help you experience the world as your cat or dog. These cameras are lightweight and durable, and provide a unique (if dizzying) perspective of the world as your pet.

The cameras come in three designs: the general Petcam, the Dog Videocam, and the Cat Videocam. The original Petcam is ideal for cats or smaller dogs and was awarded “Best Pet Product” by the Global Pet Expo in 2011. It weighs only 35g (1.2 ounces) and is 60x45x15mm in size (that’s about 2.25×1.77x.6 inches). The camera includes an integrated microphone, 4GB of memory, and its battery will last up to two and a half hours on one charge. The Petcam has the lowest video resolution of the three Eyenimal offerings, coming in at 680×480 pixels.

frenchie wearing petcam

Frenchie wearing Petcam via eyenimal.com

The Dog Videocam and Cat Videocam are designed to meet the specific needs of those types of pets. For cats, this means smaller size (the cat model is only 41x44x23mm and weighs only 32g), night vision up to 2 meters, and a built-in motion detector to determine when the cat is sleeping and stop recording (essential for cats, of course).

cat videocam

The Cat Videocam is more lightweight and equipped with night vision. Photo via Eyenimal.

The Dog Videocam is more suitable for larger pets, and is the biggest model at 84x22mm and 63g. Eyenimal has accounted for the rough-and-tumble lifestyle of bigger dogs and has made the dog model 100% waterproof. Additionally, the dog camera has 3 recording modes which are based on a built-in motion detector: continuous, when the dog is moving, or when the dog is pointing. Both the cat and dog models have a video resolution of 736×480 pixels.

dog videocam

The dog videocam has a larger, more sturdy design and is 100% waterproof. Photo via Eyenimal.

The appearance of the cameras is minimal and fairly modern. The devices are black and silver with the company name printed on their fronts. The Petcam and Cat Videocam models are compact and rounded, while the Dog Videocam is elongated and more tubular. The cameras have clips attached to them which can be affixed to most standard collars and the clips are adjustable to ensure that the camera will stay in position.

eyenimal petcam

Original Petcam via eyenimal.com

The cameras are not connectable to Wi-Fi networks, so to retrieve the video their pets have taken, owners must plug the cameras into their computers via USB cable. The cameras are compatible with most operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux.

Specs aside, how do the videos turn out? Basically, they look like they’ve been filmed by an animal. The camera bounces around on the animal’s collar and watching too much can make the weak-stomached (this writer included) a tad bit motion sick. However, as silly as it may initially seem, there is a novelty in being able to view the world through the eyes of a housepet.

For example, check out the video below in which a cat climbs up a tree onto the roof of a house (this happens around the 45 second mark). The video almost seems to reveal the cat’s thought process as she looks at the tree, then a window, and then the roof, landing her gaze on the tree again before running up it. It’s simple but telling, and the action shot of the cat actually climbing the tree is undeniably exciting.

 

The Eyenimal Petcam is selling for $99 through Dogtek, which is currently the only place you can find it on sale in America (there are considerably more distributors in Europe). Is the camera worth that price? The video quality is decent and the footage is definitely interesting (though nauseating) to watch. However, it will likely be hard for most consumers to justify a $100 price tag for a high-tech novelty which could potentially fall off the collar of a particularly wily pet. That being said, if you find yourself curious about how your pet sees the world and have $100 to spend on a high-tech toy, go right ahead and buy an Eyenimal pet video camera.

(But don’t be surprised when your friends and family aren’t terribly interested in watching Fluffy’s latest adventures in the backyard.)

What do you think about this product? Would you ever purchase a video camera for your pet? Let us know in the comments below.