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8 DIY Free Automatic Cat Feeders You Can Build Today (With Pictures)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat eating from an automatic feeder

8 DIY Free Automatic Cat Feeders You Can Build Today (With Pictures)

Are you considering getting an automatic cat feeder but can’t decide if it’ll be the solution you and your cat need? Automatic cat feeders, just like other modern inventions, save time by helping take care of your cat’s feeding on your behalf. Of course, it starts with you finding the correct feeder for your kitty. But you don’t have to spend a fortune buying one when you can DIY on the go!

Keep reading and discover why you should have an automated cat feeder and how you can DIY one with available materials, like water bottles!

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The 8 DIY Automatic Cat Feeders

1. Auto-cat Feeder from Two Water Bottles Combined

DIY Plastic Bottle Pet Feeder
Image Credit: PawBuzz

Do you have two empty juice, milk, or water bottles? If so, you can turn them into a disposable automatic cat feeder device for your feline companion. You’ll need two plastic bottles, scissors, and of course, pet food for this DIY automatic cat feeder. First off, start by washing the bottles to get rid of the residues.

Use the scissors to cut a hole that’s a little wider than the bottle’s mouth on one of the container’s sides. Cut the same bottle in half width-wise—this will act as the dispensing slot or tray.

Cut the second bottle almost halfway and remove the bottom entirely. Fill the lower part with pet food. Don’t throw away the bottom; it will act as a cap for the dispenser. Connect the bottles where you cut them and glue where they join. After the glue dries, you can add the kibble.

2. DIY Automatic Cat Feeder using Cardboard

This DIY cat feeder is a little more time-consuming than the other options but is also very useful. You’ll need cardboard, a ruler, scissors, and glue. You have to take measurements to create appropriately sized holes and edges on two thick pieces of cardboard—one piece to hold cat food and the other to dispense.

This automatic feeder is more suitable for gentle kitties that will not tear into the cardboard with their claws.

3. DIY Auto-cat feeders from Gallon Buckets

DIY Gravity or Auto Cat Feeder From 2 no.5 Gallon Buckets
Image Credit: Autodesk Instructables

You need a bit more energy and more robust tools for this DIY automatic cat feeder hack. The must-have materials include two-gallon buckets, a marker, and a strong razor or carpet knife. The two buckets should be able to fit snugly because you’ll use one of them to choke down the flow of cat food. Cut a sizable hole out of the bottom of one of the buckets to release food into the second bucket. Also, cut at the bottom on the side of the second bucket to let the food out. This DIY cat automatic cat feeder can hold large quantities of food for many days

4. PVC & Pi Motor Feeder

Image Credit: STORIKNOW

Now here’s a DIY cat feeder that’s not for the faint of heart. To make this automatic cat feeder with a motor, you’ll need a few key components, including a motor (like the Pi motor in this example), a microcontroller, a power source, and a food container (which can simply be a grain container like this example). You’ll also need to design a mechanism for dispensing the food, such as a rotating wheel or a sliding door. Once you have all your materials, it’s simply a matter of assembling and programming the device to meet your cat’s feeding schedule. While this setup is fairly complex, the instructions are laid out pretty thoroughly. Don’t forget to text your device after hooking everything up to ensure that the wiring is set up correctly.

5. Grain Container Feeder

DIY Automatic Pet Feeder
Image Credit: Autodesk Instructables

For this DIY cat feeder, you simply need a grain container or plastic container with a lid. You’ll also need a drill with a nice size bed to drill holes in the lower portion of the container. This feeder also has a motor, timer, an auger, brackets, and other electrical components to allow it to feed on a set schedule. When heading to the store for supplies, you also need to get a small piece of plywood as well as brackets and electrical wiring for this setup. Check out the link above to get the details on how to create this feeder.

6. Pringles Auto Feeder

This setup is about as simple as they come. This DIY project is not only fun to make, but it is also easy and affordable. All you need is a used pretzel box, a cardboard box, a Servo feeder, a feeding bowl, a power strip, and a few other pieces of equipment. After making holes in your Pringles can, you also want to cut a hole in the top of your cardboard box.

Once you have the motor, attach it to the lid of the Pringles box using screws or hot glue. Make sure the motor is securely attached, as it will be responsible for rotating the Pringles can to dispense the food. Once you have the motor and hole in place, you can attach a power source to the motor. You can use a battery pack or a USB cable connected to a power bank. The power source will allow the motor to rotate the Pringles can and dispense the food.

7. Cat-Activated Simple Feeder

DIY Cat-Powered Automatic Cat Feeder
Image Credit: Autodesk Instructables

Do you wish there was a solution that would allow you to automate their feeding process and give you more time to focus on other things? Well, with just a few simple materials and a little bit of elbow grease, you can create a feeding station that is powered by your cat’s own movements. To get started, you’ll need a few basic supplies such as a plastic container, a Baja Fresh container (or other container similar in size), and a cat food bowl. You’ll also need a few tools such as a drill and scissors. Once you have the materials, the process is relatively straightforward. Check out the link to see how to create it in less than 20 minutes!

8. Internet-Enabled Cat Feeder

DIY Internet-Enabled Cat Feeder
Image Credit:

With this feeder, you can ensure your feline friend’s feeding schedule is always on point even when you’re not at home. To make this feeder, you’ll need some basic supplies such as an Arduino board, servo motor, Wi-Fi module, and a few other components. With these materials, you can create a feeder that dispenses food at scheduled intervals or via remote control through a mobile app. With internet connectivity, you can even check on your cat’s feeding activity and adjust the feeding schedule as necessary.

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Advantages of DIY Automatic Cat Feeders

1. They Are Affordable

Making an automatic cat feeder yourself is much cheaper than the high-tech automatic cat feeders in pet stores. You can DIY a cat feeder using cheap and readily available household items like bottles and cardboard. Plus, DIY automatic cat feeders don’t always require motors, batteries, or electricity; your feline’s paws and gravity do all the work.

man holding money
Image Credit: Piqsels

2. They Are Convenient

Do you want to have fewer sleep interruptions? If so, use an automatic cat feeder. It will allow you to be a responsible cat parent by feeding your kitty without your physical presence.

It’ll help prevent guilt and give you peace of mind knowing your kitty is well-catered for, even when you are on a trip or at work. Most importantly, you’ll stop being the nagging neighbor that asks friends and neighbors to cat-sit every time.

3. Prevents Bloating

One of the reasons that cause your cat to get bloated is making your cat overeat in one sitting. You can avoid making excess food available by taking advantage of the automatic cat feeder’s ability to dispense smaller portions.

peaceful happy calico short hair cat with white stomach sleeping ground surface carpet
Image Credit: Kristi Blokhin, Shutterstock

4. Allows Complete Personalization

If you are a cat owner that loves being in control of every detail, a DIY automatic cat feeder will help you get control of your kitty’s eating habits, from portion to eating hours.

5. Has Medical Value

Vets have always recommended cat feeders if your kitty struggles with weight-related issues, thanks to the cat feeder’s ability to regulate the pet’s food intake.

overweight bombay cat
Image Credit: rodrigocswm, Pixabay

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How Do DIY Automatic Cat Feeders Work?

These cat feeders rely on gravity to work. When the cat begins eating from the bowl or feeding station (that should be lying on the ground horizontally), it creates a space that automatically fills with food from the container above.

How to Make an Automatic Cat Feeder

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:
  • Knife
  • Two same-size bottles
  • Tape
  • Hot Glue
  • Cardboard
  • Step 1: First off, take the first bottle and cut a hole at its bottom. Almost half of the bottom should be cut out.
  • Step 2: For the second bottle, cut a hole on the side, just near the bottom. This will help the two bottles slip in together nicely.
  • Step 3: Fit the two bottles together at the cutouts. The first bottle should be standing, with the second lying horizontally on the floor, acting as the cat’s feeding station or bowl.
  • Step 4: Stick two bottles together using tape or hot glue to hold them in place.
  • Step 5: Cut a dispensing hole near the second bottle’s top. Your kitty will use this hole to access the food.
  • Step 6: Cut a hole at the first bottle’s top, removing the bottle top to widen the mouth. This hole will allow you to pour in cat food. It would be best if you made a lid that you can close the mouth with, to prevent the food from pouring out if the cat knocks down the feeder.
  • Step 7: Fold the cardboard to a suitable size, depending on the size of your bottle, to make a platform. Tape or glue the folded cardboard where the two bottles connect. Pour in the food, and it’s ready for your cat.

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As much as automatic cat feeders make taking care of a cat easier, responsible cat owners shouldn’t use them as substitutes for human connection. Cats have a reputation for independence and appear not to need the same affection, attention, and love as other household pets. However, don’t use an auto cat feeder as an excuse not to find cat sitters, walkers, or boarding facilities for your kitty when you travel.

Long periods without human connection and interaction may make your cat develop a separation anxiety disorder and other behavioral problems.

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Featured Image Credit: Kylbabka, Shutterstock

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