I never thought that an automatic pet feeder would be something I’d want or enjoy using, but during the review process for the PeTreaT PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder, I’ve learned how convenient and fun having one can be. Of course, there are other less expensive automatic pet feeders available, but this one is a gadget-loving pet owner’s dream.
I have two indoor pets, Otis the dog and Hephaestus the cat. Otis is fed outside every morning, and Heph’s food and water used to be kept on top of the washing machine so that Otis wouldn’t get into it. I set up the PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder a month or so ago, filled it with food, and gave it a try.
Let’s start with what’s in the box and the PeTreaT PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder’s setup process.
The box that shows up containing the pet feeder is big and heavy, and when you open it a bit intimidating. There are no included instructions, but they are all easily found online.
As you pull the parts out of the box, you’ll find the main container, a metal insert, a metal bowl, and an inner hopper.
The first step is to put the metal insert inside the main container at the bottom.
Next, you attach the spindle to the hopper.
The hopper, with spindle attached, goes inside the main canister.
Attach the bowl to the front of the canister, and set the lid on top (you’ll need to remove the lid again, but this is so you can admire what you are building).
The PeTreaT PetPal WiFi Automatic Pet Feeder measures about 26″ tall by 11″ wide by 16″ deep, so that gives you an idea of the type space you’ll need when you’re deciding where to place it. The feeder can be setup indoors our outside; if you are worried about raccoons or other crafty animals getting inside the feeder, you can use the two included cotter pins to secure the top to the canister. The bowl attached to the front sits about a half-inch above the ground; this should help keep ants out of your pet’s food, if you keep the PetPal outside. The PetPal is heavy and sturdy; it doesn’t look like it could easily be knocked over — unless you put it outside and black bears are a problem in your area.
Next, you can go ahead and fill the feeder. If you don’t have enough foot to fill to the top, it’s no biggy; just hand twist the black knob until the metal sweeper brushes against the top of the food. You’ll need to make sure that there is an electrical outlet near where you place the feeder.
Now it’s time to set up the brains of the operation!
This is the top of the feeder; you’ll notice that there are four buttons on the top: Feed, Low, Rest, and Down. The Feed button will automatically dispense a bit of food into the bowl; this is great when you happen to walk by and your cat is looking piteously at the empty bowl. Low is actually just an LED that alerts you when the hopper is out of food; likewise, Reset is an LED that alerts you that a reset is needed. The Down button is the mechanized way of adjusting that black knob I mentioned earlier so that the metal sweeper arms are at the top of the pet feed. If those sweeper arms aren’t perched there at the top of the feed, nothing is going to come out when the feeder goes off.
The underside of the head unit has a camera lens and a ring of LED lights. Be sure to remove the camera lens cap — don’t be like me and forget until you realize you aren’t getting any good pictures. 😛
Read through the online wireless setup manual before you get started. You’ll need to attach an ethernet cable (not included) to the back of your router and the ethernet port built into the feeder’s top. There’s also an onboard microSD slot if you want to record photos or video of your pet.
You’ll also need to screw the WiFi antenna onto its post.
Now you need to download the PeTreaT app to your iOS or Android device.
Your device will need to be on the same network as the PetPal, and after you’ve got the feeder connected via Ethernet, you’ll move it to a WiFi connection; at which point you can remove the Ethernet cable. These are the steps I took to connect it to my network through my iPhone. It took me a few tries to get the wireless WiFi working properly, but Ken Powers (the President and Founder of PeTreaT), is super responsive to emails; he will help you with any questions or issues.
Once you’ve got everything hooked up and running, the personalization starts. Using the app, go to the Setup window.
You can set the feeder to go off up to five times a day with scheduled amounts, but you also have the option to hit the FeedMe! button at any time. Each feeding can be personalized to feed as much or as little as you’d like. I’ve found that something between a 1 and a 2 dispensed three times a day is perfect for a 12-pound cat who doesn’t need to gain any more weight.
Since Heph was used to free-feeding, it was a bit of an adjustment for him to go from a free for all food-feast to timed feedings, but this is actually working out a bit better for us because I can give him just enough to feed him without leaving an unintentional snack for Otis. Just like Pavlov’s dog, Heph comes running the minute he hears the feeder go off with kibble hitting the bowl; it’s fun to watch, actually … and I can, because of the PetPal’s camera!
Perhaps the most awesome thing about the feeder is that if I am lying in bed at 4am and Heph starts yowling that he wants to be fed — which doesn’t happen too often, but it does happen — I can open the app and hit the FeedMe! button. He runs to the feeder, I get to stay in my toasty bed.
I can check on Heph when I’m traveling by using the app; I can call him to the feeder and give him a treat, and I can talk to him while I do it. He still associates my voice with food, and we are both happy. Oddly enough, up until about three weeks ago I was still leaving food on top of the washer for Heph in his usual bowl … he wouldn’t touch it! He would sit in front of the PetTreat waiting for his dispensed food! Ridiculous cat. I finally removed his bowl and the PetPal is the only feeder he uses anymore.
I actually took much longer writing this review than intended because I was waiting to see if any issues might pop up with the feeder — wireless or otherwise — but it has been rock solid since set up!
Now obviously, at $299, a product like thePeTreaT PetPal WiFi Automated Feeder is basically a luxury and a convenience for someone like me. But I can see where this could be a lifesaver for an elderly person or a person with a disability — or even someone who works out of home who wants to stay in touch with their pet throughout the day. As an extra bit of peace of mind, I learned when my internet went out that the feeder still properly operates at the times scheduled, even if I can’t connect to the feeder remotely right at that moment to check on things.
Worth mentioning is that the PetPal is meant to last for years; if you ever have a part that breaks or if something needs servicing, you can reach out to Ken Powers, and he will help get things going for you and your pet again.
The PetPal can be programmed to feed servings for more than one pet, and since you can ration down the servings to exactly what you mean to feed to your pet at any given time, it’s a great way to make sure that your dog isn’t getting into your cat’s bowl or vice versa.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Solid construction that looks like it will last for many years; Automated and rationed servings; The ability to call my cat to the bowl through the feeder’s built-in speaker is awesome; The ability to see my cat while he is eating is fun; The ability to give an extra bit of kibble at any time from anywhere is convenient; Even if you lose connectivity, the feeder will still dispense as scheduled; This is a great way to monitor what your pet is eating — very helpful if you need to watch your pet’s weight
What Needs Improvement: Does not include Ethernet cable necessary for setup; No instructions in box; Expensive; WiFi can be a little bit tricky to set up, but once it’s done it’s solid