Most helpful critical review
122 of 126 people found the following review helpful
OK, but good grief what a palaver to set up!
on 15 December 2012
We bought this to feed our young cat when we go away for occasional nights. There seemed to be a lot of different automatic feeders to choose from, but this one seemed right for us (size, choice of feed times and sizes, length of time it could run for, etc).
When it arrived, it was bigger than I expected it to be, but then it can run for 90 days, so I guess that's to be expected.
Batteries are easy to install, though it's a bit fiddly to turn on the feeder with the switch underneath, especially if you have had to turn the feeder off while there's food in it.
And then you have to program it. It's hard to explain the instruction booklet. I can only assume it was originally written in Serbo-Croat, then translated via Korean to English by someone relying on a free translation program available on the internet and who doesn't speak Serbo-Croat, Korean or English.
First you have to set the time. You have to do it within a certain number of seconds of turning the machine on, or it defaults to 12:00 and you have to turn it off, wait a few minutes and then turn it on again. You set the time first, then choose 12 or 24 hour clock. It will make a random choice for you anyway though, so good luck with that one. In the end, we decided if we had to turn it off and on again one more time we'd live with being 12 hours out, but it eventually accepted our choice of 24 hour clock on the 7th attempt.
Then you have to decide timings of feeds. If you want to do 4 feeds a day, you can just follow the instructions, though they're very poorly written. If you want to feed once, twice or three times, you have to know at what point to ignore the instructions and press a completely different (utterly non-intuitive) button.
Then there's size of feed, calculated in quarter cups. I assume the machine must be North American, because cups are a common measure of capacity over there. However, over here they're not a helpful measure, and it was only because I inherited my (Canadian) mum's measuring scoops that I could work it out. However, you can weigh the cups of food and refer to the feeding guide on your dry cat food, which is what we did. Ordinarily, I'd suggest setting it to your best guess and then amending as necessary, but you do NOT want to be doing that.
Then you set number of days it'll run for. Don't set anything and leave it running forever is my advice. Finally, you can record a message calling your cat for their dinner, but I beg you not to, as the embarassment might just kill you. You will sound like an utter prat, and your grating voice will echo through the house three times every feed...
When it's working, it makes an alarming noice when winding up to dispense the food and threatens to vibrate across the floor. We have put ours on an indoor doormat, which has reduced the noise considerably.
What is missing is a picture of the control panel, with the relevant bit highlighted for each function, plus a flowchart which asks yes and no questions and then tells you what to press. What you have instead is page after impenetrable page of text.
I am intelligent (no false modesty), well-educated, technically-adept and astonishingly patient, and I was close to tears twice before I had this machine set up correctly, and I am DREADING the clocks going forward in March. I suspect the cat's breakfast time will just have to become an hour later because I can't bear the thought of trying to do this again.
HOWEVER, it works. It dispenses food reliably and tidily once a day at the correct time, and the cat is perfectly happy with it, though the look of pity he gives me when my voice booms out of the tiny speaker saying "Colin! Dinner!" will remain with me always...