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Guide to Cleaning and Maintaining Your Automatic Cat Food Dispenser

How to Clean and Maintain Automatic Cat Food Dispensers
Vet Approved

This information is up to date and writtenin accordance with the latest veterinary research.

If you’re an owner of multiple cats like me, you understand the convenience that automatic cat food dispensers bring into a busy lifestyle. These clever gadgets ensure your feline friends are fed on time, every time, even when you’re caught up with work or away on a short trip.

From cat feeders with basic functions to high-tech smart feeders that can be programmed and controlled remotely, there are so many options available for cat owners these days. But while these devices might make your (and your cat’s) life a breeze, the cleaning and maintenance of an automatic cat feeder shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, they’re handling something as important as your cat’s food!

In this guide, I’ll walk you through how to clean and maintain automatic cat food dispensers. You’ll learn why it’s important to keep your cat feeder clean, how to prep for cleaning, what supplies you’ll need, and best practices for keeping each part—the hopper, the feeding mechanism, the bowl, and the base unit—spick and span.

Key Takeaways:

  • 1

    Automatic cat food dispensers offer convenience for feeding your cat.

  • 2

    Cleaning an automatic cat fiid dispenser is crucial for your cat’s health.

  • 3

    Proper maintenance can extend the life of your feeder.

Why is it important to keep an automatic cat feeder clean?

automatic cat feeder

Imagine how you’d feel eating from a dirty plate every day. Pretty unappetizing, right? That’s exactly why it’s important to keep your automatic cat feeders sanitized.

Several problems can come from not keeping an automatic cat feeder clean, including:

  • Bacterial growth

    Bacteria can flourish in a dirty feeder. These bacteria can make their way into your cat’s food resulting in gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, vomiting and stomach upset.

  • Unpleasant odours

    Old or rotting cat food stuck in the feeder will start to smell pretty bad over time.

  • Pests

    Leaving a feeder dirty can invite some unwelcome guests like ants, flies or mice. Pests are a hassle to get rid of and may carry diseases harmful to both you and your pet.

  • Damage to the feeder

    If left unclean then old food particles and grime will cause damage to the feeder, reducing it’s effectiveness and shortening the feeder’s lifespan.

  • Food jams and blockages

    Old food and dirt stuck within the feeder can mess with the mechanical parts, resulting in the feeder becoming jammed. This can lead to over or underfeeding and health issues in your cat.

Prepping for Cleaning

cat feeder bowl

Preparing the feeder

Before diving into cleaning your automatic cat feeder there are a couple of quick safety precautions to take.

We all know that mixing water and electricity is a big no-no, so make sure to unplug your automatic cat food dispenser and remove those batteries. It’s essential not only to prevent any electric shocks to yourself but also to protect the electric circuits that make the feeder run so well.

The same goes for after the cleaning process – keep it unplugged until you’re certain that the feeder is completely dry and safe to plug back in.

Gather your cleaning supplies

Next let’s talk cleaning supplies. You’ll need:

  • Lukewarm water
  • Mild, pet-safe soap
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Paper towels
  • Toothbrush

For those trickier feeders, especially the ones serving up wet food, a toothbrush can reach into all those nooks and crannies. Avoid anything abrasive – we want to pamper the feeder, not scratch it up! And really, stay away from strong smells; cats have sensitive noses and we wouldn’t want to upset them.

Cleaning the Different Parts

Ever stared at your automatic cat food dispenser and wondered, “How do I even begin to clean this contraption?” Don’t worry, I’ve been there!

The first step is to remove any detachable parts from the feeder – think bowl, lid and hopper. This allows you to give each component a thorough clean. Of course how to take your feeder apart will depend on the make and model, so check the instruction manual for how to disassemble your feeder safely.

Here’s how to clean the individual parts of your automatic cat feeder:

Food Hopper

The hopper is the part of the feeder that stores the kibble and ensures a consistent flow into the feeding bowl. It’s the part that you re-fill with food when the feeder is running low.

Here’s how to clean the hopper:

  1. Empty it out: Get all the remaining bits of food out.
  2. Give it a bath: Using warm soapy water give it a gentle scrub.
  3. Rinse it off: Make sure to rinse all of the soap off with cool water.
  4. Dry thoroughly: Dry the hopper inside and out with a towel, then leave to air dry for a few hours.

Now, to keep the food in the hopper fresh always refill it with fresh food, don’t overfill it and try and keep the feeder in a cool, dry place. Check on the food in the hopper from time to time and make sure that the lid is always properly closed.

Feeding Mechanism

Ever wondered what keeps your kitty’s meals coming even when you’re not around? The feeding mechanism in an automatic cat food dispenser is the answer. This smart little device schedules and portions out your cat’s food accurately. It’s pretty much the heart of the dispenser.

Cleaning and maintaining this crucial part is usually a breeze, depending on which feeder you have. After removing it from the base unit, give it a good wipe with a damp cloth to remove any lingering food particles.

Now, to keep it in top-notch condition, always make sure that it snaps back into place and is aligned correctly. Before going back to automatic mode, give it a quick trial to see if everything’s running smoothly.

Feeding tray/bowl

As the name suggests, the feeding tray is the part where food is dispensed, awaiting your cat’s eager munching. Cleaning this essential component isn’t just about tidiness; it’s about keeping your kitty healthy and happy. Here’s what I usually recommend:

  1. Detach the tray from the dispenser base.
  2. Give it a good scrub using warm soapy water.
  3. Rinse it well to ensure no soap residue remains.
  4. Dry thoroughly with a towel or let it air dry.

Base Unit

The base unit holds the motor and the electronics that actually dole out the food for your fluffy friends. It’s where the magic happens—ensuring your kitty gets the right amount of food at the right times.

Now, let’s chat about keeping it clean. You’ll want to be careful using too much water around the base unit due to the electronics inside. Grab a damp cloth and give the exterior a gentle wipe, and then hunt down those sneaky crumbs or bits of kibble that have wandered astray with a soft brush or cloth.

In addition to cleaning the base unit, here are a few pro tips to protect it and extend it’s lifespan:

  • Stable and flat: Place it somewhere it won’t wobble or tip.
  • Stay cool: Keep it away from the stove or any heat source unless you want a meltdown.
  • Moisture, beware: Just like cats avoid water, so should your feeder. A damp environment can cause food to go off more quickly.
  • Inspect regularly: Check the base unit for any signs of damage or wear regularly.

Maintenance Tips

cat feeder maintenance

Maintaining your automatic cat feeder is not only essential for keeping your furry friend healthy and happy, but it’ll also save you money in the long run by avoiding frequent replacements.

So, how do you ensure your cat’s diner stays pristine?

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines—this can’t be overstressed. Every dispenser is unique, and adhering to the prescribed procedures extends its lifespan and maintains performance.

Regular cleaning is a no-brainer. Most dispensers have removable parts that are dishwasher-safe or can be washed manually.

Don’t forget to replace batteries or desiccants as needed, keeping everything running smoothly.

Also, observe your cat’s feeding habits—the rate at which they eat and the amount—adjustments might be necessary for optimal feeding. And ensure you’re using the correct food type to avoid clogging.

Now, for the tech-savvy feeders, programming plays a big role. Use a timer or app to manage feeding schedules and portions.

While cleaning and maintaining your automatic cat feeder might seem simple at first, the tips and tricks in this article can help extend the life of your device.


How often should I clean my automatic cat food dispenser?

The frequency of cleaning depends on use, but as a rule of thumb, do a thorough clean once every two weeks. If you’re dishing out wet food, you’ll want to clean it more frequently—think once a week—to prevent any nasty bacteria buildup.

Can I use disinfectant on my feeder, and if so, which type is recommended?

Opt for food-safe disinfectants or a mild soap solution. Rinse thoroughly after to ensure no soapy residue is left behind.

What signs should I look for to know if my feeder needs maintenance?

Keep your eyes peeled for odd noises or inconsistent food portioning. If your cat’s feeder is acting more like a stingy snack dispenser, it might be time to check for blockages and give it some attention.

My feeder isn’t dispensing food properly, what could be wrong?

First, check for food jams that can block the mechanism. Also, inspect for battery issues or gunk in the moving parts.

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