Simple, reliable, and cheap, gravity-based models are some of the most popular automatic cat feeders out there. In case you aren’t familiar with these and would consider buying one after reading this article, we’ll give you a short description. These are made up of two main parts, a plastic container with an opening at the bottom, which sits on a plastic base that extends into a small tray, this latter part acting as the cat bowl.
Once placed in the container through a lid at the top, the food will drop in the tray pushed by its own weight until said tray gets filled. When this happens, the quantity of cat feed in the bowl at the front will provide enough counter-force to make the whole process halt. As the cat eats, the bowl will start emptying and this will allow for more food to fall from the container.
Something to keep in mind when buying one is that the food in the bowl is supposed to act like a wedge against the quantity pressing on it from the container, so the walls of the tray must be designed in such a way to allow these to form a rigid mass. Otherwise the quantity in the plastic jar will simply make these spill by pushing with greater pressure.
Pet owners have probably spotted what the obvious problem with this system is — that the tray will always be full, allowing the cat to gorge to its heart’s content.
There is, however, a simple technical solution to counteract this problem, one which is both accessible and easy to apply. All you will need is a plastic cup that will fit over the lid opening of the container and a pair of scissors.
Probably the biggest challenge will be finding the right size of plastic cup, since this will need to have the same diameter over its lip as the mouth of the container, or you won’t be able to screw the lid properly once placing the plastic cup. Otherwise, any small PET container, the type that’s used for packaging small portions of dairy products will do, as long as it has an extended lip to get over the edge of the automatic pet feeder.
This will be used to hold the food instead of the pet feeder container, so you might want to size accordingly. The only modification you’ll be doing to it is adding some “loops” along the edge of its base, to allow the granules to get through if the thing is shaken. This can be done with either a small knife or a scissor, used to create small incisions, 3 or 4 pairs of them, distributed symmetrically.
After this is done, simply push through two of the closely placed incisions (that’s why we called them pairs) with your finger to create a loop for the feed granules to get through. Now, your cat will have to jiggle and shake the device to get its food, putting in enough work to make gorging a a chore that he will not readily partake in.