“ Brand: Staywell / Animals Equipment Type: Pet Feeder „
Last weekend saw the departure of my youngest son as he left for university in Scotland. This was a milestone in the lives of my three rather pampered Persian cats that, until this point, had a ready made feline carer waiting to step in on my weekend trips. This is when I decided that, for once, the cats should learn to stay home alone. Now I am not proposing to leave them for long periods, but just for a couple of days, and I needed a solution which was not dependant on neighbourly help or outside visits, and this is when I came across the Staywell 153 Pet Feeder. This simple clockwork device was to become my best friend.
Researching the market enabled a comparison to be made between the large numbers of pet feeders available. Many of these are fancy machines and no doubt work well, but I favoured simplicity and so I plumped for the clockwork feeder.
To understand the ideas behind this machine you have to step inside the mind of Marigold, my oldest Persian. At eleven she has seen a lot of life - all indoors though, as she has never stepped outside other than for annual vet appointments. She adores her food but she has no intention of eating dry cat biscuits - the main food I feed to my other two. This makes it rather difficult if you want to go away for the night, as she will starve herself rather than eat dry food provided. It is for this reason that I wanted a pet feeder which had some kind of chilling facility.
The Staywell 153 Cat Feeder has four compartments and a space underneath these for a chilled ice pack. I purchased mine from Amazon for £19.36. It works by the medium of a clockwork mechanism which, after winding up, clicks at a snails pace revealing each compartment over a period of 36 hours. It has no timer or batteries so the simplicity really appealed to me.
The unit consists of three main parts. Firstly the base unit which has four compartments. Then the lid which fits on the top but which has one quarter missing to expose the first feeding compartment, and lastly the clockwork device which locks in between the lid and the base.
Before departure you fill the compartments with wet or dry food and put the ice pack in place if you are using. The model I purchased was not supplied with one, but some models are. I called Staywell who told me they no longer sell the ice packs separately, but that a standard ice pack would fit the space, and it did.
So before I used this for the first time I decided to test it out on Marigold in case I could see any snags or particular points I could learn from. This was really important as I wanted to feel secure when I really did leave her for the first time.
The first point I must make is that Marigold was the main beneficiary of this product. My other two cats are happy just grazing on their dry food and have no real need for food presented in this way. Therefore I will concentrate on Marigold and her culinary preferences in relation to this feeding system. My first piece of advice is to feed your cat a large meal before you leave in a separate bowl. Choose something which they really love and don't have very often. I purchased Applause cat food for this purpose which looks absolutely delicious, and is guaranteed to send Marigold to the lounge for the afternoon to snooze away the hours. The advantage of this special meal is that the bowl can be washed thoroughly, and you leave with the knowledge that your cat has been well fed. It also gives the opportunity to feed slightly more food than the first compartment would allow.
For this reason I then leave the first compartment of the cat feeder empty. This keeps the unit cleaner for longer. So after winding up the feeder, the hours tick by and the first of the remaining three compartments will very gradually appear. There is no loud noise associating with the ticking clock mechanism, which is kind to cats as they hate being startled, but you can discern it and I would imagine this would be annoying if you were there to hear it. What to put in these compartments is really up to you, but I have found that tuna in spring water works the best, as the fish is moist and covered in the liquid, so it stays fresh and doesn't dry out as commercial cat foods will. Marigold adores this special treat so it partially makes up for the lack of human company.
So over the next 36 hours these three meals will appear giving you a 36-48 hour window to be away - but you will come home to a ravenous cat if you leave it much beyond 40! We tried this out for the first time after the trial last weekend. We had a very long trip to do to Scotland which was to begin on Friday afternoon, and end in the early hours of Sunday morning. The feeder will cover meals for 36 hours, and so after this time your cat will have no food, so you need to return as soon as possible after this. This is also important as the first compartment will be revealed at the end of the period again, and if food was left it would be available again for the cat to eat. Now most cats won't touch old food, but it is a health risk to them and hunger could generate an urge to eat this. For this reason you really must adhere to the time-scale this feeder covers, and not extend the time, unless you have made arrangements for a neighbour or friend to check up on them.This isn't as important with dry food but fresh food certainly casues more of a concern. This is the main reason why I leave the first compartment empty and feed Marigold the special meal in a separate bowl before I Leave. That way at the end of the cycle the pure white clean bowl is the only one revealed.
Of course you need to provide lots of drinking water, several litter trays, and I left dry food for the other cats. Mine tend to be quite sensible when presented with dry food and do not eat it too quickly, but if you have a cat which does then it would also suit you to purchase this feeder which can stagger their meals in the same fashion as it does for the wet food. My daughter owns two rescue cats that I call puddings! They are actually called Peach and Plum and are built like barrels, and would need this feeder to avoid eating their dry food all in one go making themselves sick from greed!
We could have stayed until Sunday afternoon, but we were slightly concerned about the device as we had not used it before during a real absence. I should not have had any concerns because the cats were sound asleep on the lounge chairs, all the meals had been eaten by Marigold and she was totally contented. I think she scarcely missed our departure having lived the high life for the weekend on Waitrose Maldivian line caught tinned tuna in spring water! It was amusing though as my husband was really concerned about her, and as we were driving home down the A1 I could sense the urgency he was feeling about her situation!
One point I would make about using this device for fresh cat food is that the ice packs have a limited chilling effect and would not be suitable for fresh meat in my opinion. Indeed I would advise against this, as it could spoil and cause stomach upsets. Chicken in particular would be a serious risk. Commercial cat food is ok but it does have a tendency to dry out, and if the cat leaves it or is messy with it then the clearing up is worse. The first time I tried the feeder as an experiment I used Sheba- Marigold's usual food, but she was messier with it compared to the tuna which was eaten in its entirety!
I would also advise to seek out the feeder which comes with the ice pack if you can. I was rather disappointed when I spoke to Staywell to find that they did not sell them separately any more. The other point to make is that the unit can take up to two ice packs if you want to chill all the compartments satisfactorily which will necessitate seeking out at least one extra pack.
The base and the lid are both dish washable which is brilliant because it takes the effort out of cleaning what can be a rather stinky item after 2 days!
I have very high praise for this device which offers freedom for the cat lover who enjoys the odd night away. It saves money on cattery fees and allows the cat to remain in its home surroundings. Highly recommended!
This review will also be published on Ciao under my user name Violet1278 with photos!
So there we were with our long purchased tickets to see The Moody Blues at the NEC and our friends asked us to go and stay with them for the weekend so that we could all travel to the concert together.
BUT we now have our lovely cat so what were we to do?
We decided that putting him in a cattery for a weekend would be more trouble than it was worth so we finally got round to getting him a cat flap (review to follow soon) and then all we needed was a feeder with a timer that would make meals available to Mew at regular intervals while we were away.
After a lot of investigation on the Internet we chose the Staywell Clockwork Operated Pet Feeder which we purchased from Pet Supermarket for £22.99.
There were more expensive ones out there which had the facility to put ice packs in them to keep food fresh but as we intended to use dry food this wasn't necessary. There were also ones where we could record a message for Mew to play when his meal was available but I thought this would really confuse him! He would wonder where we were if he could hear our voices but not see us!
Anyway the Staywell feeder was the one we chose and we are pleased that we did.
It comes in a sturdy cardboard box with a picture of the feeder on the front together with a happy looking cat and dog! This particular model is for 'small animals' and 'automatically feeds your pet'.
The contraption itself is circular, made from strong white plastic and is about 12 inches in diameter. It consists of a base split into four separate feeding bowls each capable of holding 200g of food, a lid with a quarter cut out of it and a central tube shaped piece which houses the clockwork mechanism. Take a look at the photograph at the top of this review if you can't visualise what I mean. The base and the lid are both dishwasher proof if that's your preferred method of washing up!
To use the feeder you start by taking the whole thing to pieces.
Wind up the clock mechanism using the key provided making sure that you don't overwind it.
Then you fill the feeder bowls with either wet or dry food.
Next you need to assemble the lid and the clock housing making sure that the slot on the outside of the clock housing engages with the raised strip of plastic inside the feeder lid.
Now you need to put the lid onto the base. This time you need to make sure that metal motor key in the base of the clock unit engages with the slot in the feeder bowl base unit. This is to make sure that the movement of the clockwork unit turns the lid of the feeder.
The lid makes one complete revolution in roughly two days. This means that you will not actually be able to see the lid moving as it moves extremely slowly. You can hear the mechanism ticking though so you do know that it is working and of course it means you can tell when it has wound down and stopped by the resulting silence.
The fact that it moves so slowly also has the advantage of not alarming the cat.
We tried it a few days before we went away to make sure that it did actually move as it was supposed to and Mew was happy to eat from it. We needn't have worried! We just filled it with his favourite Whiskas Complete and he was soon tucking in!
We went to visit our friends on Saturday morning and came back early Sunday evening - Mew had happily eaten food from each quarter and been in out via his new cat flap too. At least we know now that we can leave him overnight if we have the chance to go out although to be fair is a very rare occurrence these days!
Obviously if we went away for any longer than that we would put Mew into a cattery and make sure that he was well looked after and safe, but for one night I think he quite enjoyed being in charge of the house!
By the way the Moody Blues were brilliant!
This pet feeder is fantastic for anyone who has got a cat or small dog and is at work all day or goes away over night.
The feeder itself is made of a sturdy plastic that wont break easily, it is dish washer safe so is easy to clean.
There are 4 compartments on this feeder each capable of holding quite a lot of food. to set this up all you need to do is lift the little top piece off and wind the mechanism up with the key, dont worry you wont spend ages looking for the key as it is like the ones on the back of jewelwry boxes that you turn, this is a better alternative than batteries as they wont run out.
It cones with one ice pack which is a blue plastic containing liquid very similar to the ones you would put in a cool bag, you can buy additional ones of these as they do stop your fresh meat drying out too quickly.
The motor takes 8 hours to move from one food container to the next so your pet will be well fed for 36 hours.
I use one of these when my mom goes on holiday as she has a house cat, this means that i dont have to keep going over to her house 3 times a day to feed her cat, moms cat is quite a finicy eater and turns her nose up at her food once it has gone dry but with this she always seems to eat it.
These pet feeders are ideal for people who have to stay away over night on buisiness or in our case to make the job of looking after someone elses pet easier.
This pet feeder cost £27.99 and is worth its weight in gold.
As my partner and I live in different parts of London and I do like to spend some time with him, it means I do spend occasional nights away from home. I also travel a lot as part of my job, although it is rarely for more than one night at a time. I always feel terribly guilty about my cats, even though I leave them plenty of biscuits and water. So finding this product was a godsend to me. I know that they will be fed regularly and that the food will be kept fresh.
The feeder comes in three parts:
a) the base unit, which is a large circular implement divided up into four parts.
b) the lid, which is also circular, but with one quarter cut out.
c) the clockwork device, which locks into the base unit and the lid.
d) an ice-pack which can be attached to the underside of the base unit to keep food fresh.
How it works
The clockwork device is wound up - I usually turn it about 10 times and this is enough to keep it going for 36 hours. Because it is attached to the lid, the clockwork device turns the lid very slowly to cover the first compartment and to uncover the next. Food can be kept fresh by the ice-pack, slotted underneath the base unit.
What the cats think
I was a bit concerned at first that they would be put off by the ticking noise that the clockwork device makes, but the sight of food was enough to make them ignore that. The compartments for the food are big enough to provide enough food for two cats, although if your cat has a big appetite, you may need to buy another feeder. I was also concerned that the clockwork device would stop before the 36 hours were up, but it has never let me down yet.
a) I can go away for the night and not have to worry about the cats being hungry.
b) The product comes with a three year guarantee.
c) Saves huge amounts on cattery fees.
d) Individual parts can be bought separately if something breaks or you want an extra ice-pack.
e) The revolving lid means that as one portion is eaten, it is covered up, which helps to avoid smells.
f) Dishwasher safe.
g) No need for batteries.
The only disadvantage is the ticking noise - as I live in a studio flat, I can't escape it by putting it into another room. And once wound up, it isn't possible to stop it, so if I'm back after 24 hours, I have to put up with the ticking for another 12 hours. However, although it bothered me a little to start with, I've since got used to it and the important thing is that the cats don't mind.
I can thoroughly recommend this to any cat owners. Of course, I don't condone leaving animals unattended for any length of time, but life is such that sometimes it is unavoidable. I tend to leave dried food as well and I put dried food in the fourth compartment, because I worry that tinned food wouldn't stay fresh for long enough. One thing, if you're having somebody come in to check the cats are OK and feed as necessary, make sure you show them how to use the feeder and dismantle it - I once paid a woman to come in and feed the cats while I went home for Christmas - I had presumed she would be able to work out how to use the feeder and left her the instructions - but she obviously didn't work it out. I returned to find that she had been using ordinary bowls to feed the cats and had left the cat feeder where it was without cleaning it. Obviously the food smelled terribly by that time. Needless to say, I haven't used her since.
I bought mine from Argos for £29.99 last year, but just flicking through the Argos catalogue online, they don't appear to have the same product now, although there are other cat feeders available. However, this product is available from most pet-stores, especially the bigger ones and is also available on many Internet sites for around the same price that I paid.
Dishwasher safe automatic feeder / serves 4 meals over 36 hours / clockwork operation.