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I bought this product over 5 years ago when I started having to stay out overnight through work. This was going to be happening over a period of a few months so I was in a real dilemma about what to do about my beloved cat. After looking around and seeing this product I thought I would have to give it a try, as it was the only realistic solution. I would typically be going out one morning early and returning the following evening late.
The Feeder is made of sturdy plastic, a grey base/body and a white lid. It measures about 10 inches across and is about 2 inches high. With this feeder you are able to select 4 feeding times for your pet. It has 5 compartments, but obviously the first compartment has to be open when you leave. The feeder is battery operated, and there is a small "start" switch by the battery compartment underneath. Once you switch this to start, there is a visible indicator next to the time dial which turns so that you can see that the battery is working ok.
Removing the white lid, the actual compartments themselves are numbered (although these numbers are hard to see -they are grey, sort of embossed into the bases of each compartment), so you can see which compartment to start with. You then fill with food or treats as you wish for each planned meal/opening. When you replace the lid you turn it fully anti-clockwise so that the open section is compartment zero.
Attached to the side of the body of the feeder is a timer which covers up to four days (counting today as day 1). It is clearly marked with a red arrow pointing to the dial, saying "time", and you turn the dial so that the current time in the bright red "TODAY" section is lined up with the red arrow. There are then four red pegs which you drag around the edge of the dial, placing each one at a point in time when you want the feeder to open. As soon as the feeder is switched to "start" the timer dial will start to move. Bear in mind this dial covers 72 hours and in only a couple of inches across, so it's not possible to see it moving, but you can be reassured by the battery indicator going round. When the timer goes past the first peg, the lid turns with a 'click' and opens the first compartment, and so on for each of the pegs. The feeder has operated perfectly every single time I've used it, proving that it's easy to set up and very reliable. In addition I have since used it for my two much younger, much smarter, much naughtier(!) cats and they have never broken into it!
For my usage back then, I only wanted to use it over a 36 hour period, so I would feed her in the morning and could open one in the evening with her food, another later in the evening with some treats, morning breakfast and a smaller portion for later the second evening if I was delayed past her normal feed time. The closest that it's possible to get the pegs together is approx 4 hours, due to their size. The other thing to be aware of is that there is limited accuracy with the times of opening - again because of it being essentially a clockwork mechanism, and a huge time period on such a small dial. Each hour mark on the dial is approx 1mm to give some idea.
To clean the feeder, remove the lid and the part of the base with the food compartments lifts straight off. Due to its size, its not the easiest thing to clean, but it does come up sparkling every time. Also in the base are two 'ice packs' which can be used to keep the food fresh, but I have never used these, my kitchen is quite cool and the food remains safely covered in the feeder anyway.
Sadly my cat passed away 18 months ago, but this feeder was in storage and as mentioned above, I have recently used it on a few occasions for my two new cats. It still works perfectly well and is good as new, so is obviously made of sturdy materials and built to last. I guess the cost of this product is quite a shock - around £50 for a feeder, but for the things it does and for the peace of mind it has done me long and good service.
Pet Mate C50 Automatic Pet Feeder holds 5 x 300 g tinned food or 5 x 125 g dry food 96-hour timer guarantees precise control of feeding time