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Cat-proofing a cat feeding machine (quinndunki.com)
1107 points by mef on Dec 21, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 289 comments



I recently got a SureFeed RFID feeder. It can read your cat's microchip or an RFID collar tag. When an authorized kitty approaches, a flap raises and lets the cat eat. I got it to prevent other family pets from stealing my cat's food. It works well for that purpose and seems well designed. The feeder has clear side "walls" and the flap itself acts as a wall on the rear of the feeder, helping prevent food theft during authorized feeding.

I'd like to hack it and add timer functionality. See, my cat is always trying to get breakfast early and is always underfoot from 4 A.M. until I feed him. I tripped over him and broke my ankle last month because of this. I figure, if I can load up breakfast's meal before I go to bed, and only "unlock" the feeder after 7 A.M., my cat may eventually learn to stop bugging me at night. The joke will probably be on me though, darn cats.

I'd like to use an ESP8266 for this so I can also have an IoT feeder that reports usage statistics. =P


I've got the same one and it doesn't stop cats tailgating other cats. It was however hilarious during the 'training' phase watching the stupidest of our two barrel towards the flap and go crunching into it.

Did have a good idea for gamifying it though - a cat airlock with a camera, $5 a month, getting bored old ladies on Facebook to compare the cat in the airlock and making the decision to let it through or not...


Catptcha-as-a-Service


Thanks for the branding :D


Someone did this 10-15 years ago with a webcam and a silhouette of the pet.


I think you're talking about the Flo Control Project. Looks like the original site is gone, but here is an archive link:

https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20160115204055/http://www.q...


YES, thank you!


Sounds like Reamde... :)


I know it sounds cruel and I didn't feel quite right doing it but this is why I walk around my cats like they're not there. After a couple close calls where I almost fell it seemed like it was worth a shot. I do slow down a bit so I carry/push them rather than kick when they're actually underfoot though. It only took a couple bonks to the nose and a time or two of being carried by my foot a few inches into the air to teach them not to do it anymore. And if you're concerned about affection they still rub against me when I'm standing still or sitting.


I've used something similar to teach a kitten I had to not step on keyboards. Just pick them up and drop them on the floor every time they touch the keyboard - they learn that that touching keyboards is How You Fall Off The Desk.


Ages ago, when I was still living with my parents, we had an indoor/outdoor cat that had a habit of going to various high shelves in the house and accidentally knocking things off them.

To curb this behavior, one of us would grab him off the shelf and literally throw him outside (onto grass, maybe 6' in the air), thinking that he would associate the unpleasantness of being thrown with his unwanted behavior.

He did. He changed his behavior such that he would jump up on said shelves and deliberately knock things off the shelf whenever he wanted to go outside.

He was a great cat other than that habit though. Hands down the most social (with humans) cat I have ever owned or met and my sample size on both counts is fairly large. He made everyone he met fall in love with him and had a territory of several square miles given the phone calls from people he encountered who took him in worrying that he wouldn't get home safely (he always did, though one incident when he was gone overnight prompted us to put the home phone number on his collar due to some concerned neighbor who took him in for the night). He also once jumped into a UPS truck that was delivering a package to my parents house - I happened to be looking out the window as the truck was leaving, watched it go halfway up the driveway, stop, and see the driver toss him out of the truck.

My parents have since stopped allowing their cats outside due to the murderous relationship between cats and local bird populations.


Felt I should add that this cat also figured out how to operate a light switch, with similar motivations.


I knew a cat that figured out how to operate a light switch so that they could stare at moths through the glass door that would show up with the balcony light on.


> murderous relationship between cats and local bird populations.

That line instantly made me recall this comic: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cats_actually_kill


It does feel cruel, but it's probably safest for the cat as well as you--if they aren't afraid to get underfoot, they could be injured if you step wrong and can't stop in time.


I wired up my Super Feeder (http://www.super-feeder.com/) to a relay and C.H.I.P. (https://getchip.com/). I wish I had multiple animals so I had an excuse to RFID it.

So far these are the triggers:

1. I put a hall effect sensor and another C.H.I.P. on his exercise wheel (https://onefastcat.com/) so it feeds him every few revolutions he runs (not sure if he's associated the two yet)

2. Alexa skill.

3. Daily 5am feeding to avoid the early morning hungry-cat-alarm-clock.

4. Hacked Amazon Dash button next to the bed (and IFTTT button on my phone) in case the 5am feeding isn't enough to silence the hungry-cat-alarm-clock.

So yeah, I identify with this statement "You might say I’ve won this battle. However I just spent 20 hours armor-plating a cat feeder. I think we know who’s really in control here, don’t we?"


Rather than the hacked amazon dash button, have you seen the AWS IoT Button? https://aws.amazon.com/iotbutton/

That might be easier to work into the system on a future refactoring of the system.


Yeah, but the Dash buttons are $5, or free with the $5 credit towards the first purchase...


> Buy this AWS IoT Button for $19.95 and receive a $20.00 credit in your AWS account within 24 hours of your first press.

If you are paying for any AWS, it's free too.


Do you know of any systems that portion out food by weight?


Super Feeder lets you adjust the duration of the feedings, which I think is pretty accurate, but you'll have to calibrate it for the desired weight, food size, etc.

I added the relay because I wanted more control. Normally you use a wall outlet relay or timer but then you only have one preset duration, and there's a 10 minute reset interval between feedings.


Don't feed your cat until 7am no matter what. Ignore all foot rubs and meows. He'll eventually learn and give up.

Operant conditioning.

Watch out though for that extra-hard last ditch effort he will put out before giving up. Stay strong.


How long is "eventually"?

My cat is almost 5 years old. She is the type to overeat to obesity, probably because she was abandoned at ~1yr by her previous owner. For half her life my partner and I have been feeding her like clockwork 3 times a day, minus all of 2-3 weeks of vacations where our roommate took over.

I have to exert a constant effort to maintain our bedroom door and the rubber that I lined on the jamb to prevent her from rattling the door at 5am to ask for food - the paint is a lost cause. We have a white noise machine. We ignore her cries for food. We ignore her pawing things off our desks. We have a system to keep track of food we give her so she can't "trick" the other person. She knows exactly when we feed her (the meows get cranked up a notch about an hour before food time) but despite not giving in, she keeps acting like meowing at us is going to go anywhere.

No luck. And we know we're not underfeeding her - she's getting the calories appropriate for her (currently normal) weight, is being fed wet food, has fresh water, lots of attention and toys, all that stuff.

Unfortunately we have to give this up because we've got a baby on the way, and it's just so frustrating to lose 2+ years of effort put into having her not weigh 18lbs...


Try an automatic feeder. I have the one mentioned in the article and didn't need to do any extra hardening to protect it from our two cats.

Even though we kept a tight feeding schedule, our cats used to start meowing and pestering us an hour before dinner time. Now, they just sit quietly and stare at the automatic feeder until it dispenses their food.


Second this. Our cat was clearly able to outlast my patience. At one point early-ish into our cat's tenure in our home, during a particularly persistent meowing session I said to my wife (jokingly!), "holy shit I'm going to kill this cat." To which I quickly had the sad realization that some people probably do abuse or kill their pets. So I decided to check for advice from the ASPCA.

All the kitty guides on webbernets say, "be firm and don't give into kitty's demands." Whereas I read on the ASPCA website, "buy an automated feeder."

Guess which worked? Happy automated cat feeder owner, and our cat mostly doesn't drive me insane around feeding times.

For reference, I also own this model of cat feeder and have not needed to harden, though I do have it wedged up next to a wall to lessen risk of tipping.


Fine, fine, I just ordered the Petnet feeder :) Not my first pick, but it supports the 1/16 cup portions I would need to maintain my cat's weight on the dry food that she likes most. I shall see on Christmas Day if she'll tolerate it :D


That's our eventual plan! I haven't ordered one yet since all of them have reviews about cats being able to open them up plus I have to figure out how to transition to a dry food diet again. Mine will paw at the sealed container of bonito flakes we use as treats... I'm 110% counting on needing to harden a feeder.


for our cat it was two simple solutions: 1, feed her about 1/3 of her daily food right before I go to bed; the later she eats the later she gets hungry. 2, when she cries for food before feeding time, I chase her around the apartment with a spray bottle spraying the shit out of her. over time it has gotten much better, not perfect but she definitely learned that crying for food = getting unpleasantly wet.


If spraying works for you that's good. In general it is not recommended to spray because cats generally don't associate punishment well with actions. They are more likely to develop fear of you and/or the object than discouragement for the related concept or activity the punishment is being doled out for.

It was certainly this way with my cat. I really regret the months of different punishments we tried on him to discourage his bad behaviors as it changed his personality.


put a tsp of vinegar in the spray bottle. They learn even faster


We use an SSSCat[1] device to keep the door paint(and our night-time sanity) in-tact. It's not entirely reliable but it works enough that it keeps them away from the door.

We turn it on when we close the door at night. The cats haven't figured out when it's on or off, but they have figured out if the door is open, they can run really fast past it and it won't get them.

It did stop the door scratching, but now the door scratching has turned to 5am serenades.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/PetSafe-KIT19001-SSScat/dp/B000RIA95G


We associate our cat's food with a phone alarm instead of any sort of bothering us. We vary the alarm somewhat over time (three different repeating alarms) so the time of day isn't quite predictable.

This seems to have worked so far to avoid the cat bothering us in the morning.


Citronella sprayed near the bottom of the door, after a couple of days they stop as it probably tastes / smells horrible to them.


My cat was on a "diet" similar to yours. I just ended up giving in and letting him eat all the food he wanted, which ended up being less than expected. He just freaked out at having an empty bowl.

He's a very big strong boy now (20ish pounds) and is just very happy.

My thinking was that he's a cat and what's the point of a cat being unhappy for his whole life.


It's possible 20lbs is closer to your cat's ideal weight, since some breeds tend to run large. Mine only hit 18+lbs while we freefed her. Now she's around 12lbs, in good body condition (just a little more abdominal fat she could stand to lose).

We really had to push the weight loss because it was clear she wasn't meant to be so big. Her asthma was significantly worse when she weighed more (multiple attacks a week vs now I don't even remember the last one within the past year), and there were huge patches of her body covered in greasy dandruff because she couldn't groom herself. It would have eventually led to a lot of problems. Better for us to put up with her antics than to watch a painful death, really.


Extra abdominal fat in felines is a feature, not a bug - the 'primordial pouch'[1] which provides some extra protection in fights, and allows for a longer stride (with all four legs spread out more when running). But you know your cat best.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_anatomy#Skin


Some animals are just really really dumb.


Cats have been known to modify their purring sounds, to include a sub-carrier that is remarkably similar to an infant crying. That in turn triggers an instinctive response in humans which cause them to subconsciously rise out of bed and apply food to the source of that sound. Source: a documentary on Netflix "The Lion in your Living room".


Cats have also been known to resort to terrorism, viz., climbing onto high shelves and systematically knocking fragile items to the floor until their demands are met.


Ha! Yes they do - I just posted an anecdote describing this very behavior https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13233945


It's apparently so common that there's a game -- Catlateral Damage -- where you play a cat from a first-person perspective and score by knocking as many things to the floor as you can in a set time.


Well my cats don't need their (damn loud nonetheless) voices to wake me up... the fat cat (7kg) wakes me up by bashing me with full paw force.

Cats are awesome, especially at finding our weaknesses...


I thought it was that modern house cats have evolved to have their purring contain that similar sound, rather than that they selectively enable a sub-carrier.


One of our cats has managed to perfect saying something that sounds awfully like a distressed young child crying "mum" - I'm immune to this but it upsets my wife!


Any chance of you recording this (the cat, not the distressed wife)?


He doesn't do it that often and usually at odd times (i.e. middle of the night) but I will give it a go!


We tried this with our cat for years. He had a designated feeding time. We never broke it. His internal clock is pretty good but not exact, so he starts to pester for food an hour or two before feeding time.

So he would surely wake us up if fed at 7:00am, so one solution is to feed at night. This results in a cat constantly underfoot begging for food for two hours, which is literally a tripping hazard.

The solution is to feed him from a machine and to make sure he never sees us touching the machine. Now, at feeding time he sits by the machine and stares at it, waiting for it to open.


So, your cat transferred all their respect for you to the machine.


I love the way my cats stare at me worshipfully, and I'd envy the machine.


  > This results in a cat constantly underfoot begging for food
  > for two hours, which is literally a tripping hazard.
We found a solution to this: Only feed the cat when an audible alarm goes off. This way they associate the onset of food behavior with the alarm, not with you.


That last ditch effort is called an extinction burst [0]

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction_(psychology)#Exti...


Until I read the article, I was imagining this: https://ksr-ugc.imgix.net/assets/003/312/014/af9095d403701c1...


Don't feed your cat until 7am no matter what. Ignore all foot rubs and meows. He'll eventually learn and give up.

He'll maybe learn to give up. Or he's like one of our cats where we have to install a baby gate on the outside of the closed door to our bedroom to make it difficult for him to bang on the door all night/morning so that we can sleep.


Some mild punishment may be necessary. If a cat bothers me while I'm in bed, they get held by their scruff and moved to the floor. The cats bother my wife, but not me.


He's kind of a weirdo. He just sees punishment as mostly "attention" and doesn't mind it that much. Plus, any movement towards him in the morning is seen as "I must be getting fed now!" and he gets all excited.


We lock our cat out of the bedroom at night (and have since day 1), and own a cat feeder. Cat ownership bliss.


My cat is 18. She howls in the middle of the night to get us to play with her and bites at us when she feels too much time has elapsed since her last saucer of milk.

She is way too old to give a fuck anymore and there is nothing to indicate she will ever change at her age. Just like a human.


Before putting the dish down, require that the cat lay on a designated mat. If s/he moves, pick up the dish. Eventually the cat should learn to lay on the mat for the hour before mealtime, rather than bugging you. Worked for both my dog and my cat.


How on earth do you get the cat to lay on the mat the first time?


My inlaws have a bird clock, the kind that plays a different bird song at each hour. Cats figure out which birds to listen for.


I already refuse to feed him before 7am but he still tries. He is conditioned on getting breakfast from Dad and I need to condition him to get breakfast from the machine. I'm hoping that loading it with breakfast the night before and a lock indicator LED will remove Dad from the picture and allow for that conditioning.


7am? I tried that, and they would still wake me up. I switched to evening feedings instead. My cats get fed at 9pm sharp. They only get one feeding per day and they usually make it last. That means there's still food in their bowls in the morning. It took them a few weeks to get used to it, but now we don't get woken up by the cats anymore. Well, they still jump on the bed and want a cuddle, but no more annoying crying for food.


We are 12 years in and the cat is howling away. Same feed time everyday.

She is evil. If her dinner is felt to be sub par she goes into the sleeping child and claws the kid. She has come very close to a final vet visit with this behaviour.


Hey, try vinyl claw caps first. Google: cat vinyl nail caps

Animals are complex machines, just as people are. They are mirroring a lot of our traits, as anger or ignorance.

As a final resort, give the cat up by letting someone adopt it. That actually works! Good luck!


For a cheap and simple hack solution, I would imagine you could just get one of those outlet timers. That's assuming the device uses wall power, defaults to locked when unpowered, and doesn't require any user input to resume function when power cycled. Just set it to power on at 7AM and either set it to power off at the time you usually refill it, or just manually switch it off when filling.

Not as much fun as an IoT cat feeder, though.


Great idea but unfortunately it is battery operated. I suppose a relay on Vcc might do the trick though!


It would probably be easier to power it via a wall-wart (voltage adapter) and an off the shelf plug-in timer.

Just cut off the end of the adapter and wrap the wire around the battery terminals.


> unfortunately it is battery operated

Seems short-sighted on the manufacturer's side. What happens if you go on vacation and the battery dies?

It should have a wall plug, and a battery to fallback on for when there's an outage.


The feeder only contains room for a day's worth of food, it doesn't have a "hopper" and isn't designed for unattended use. It's (unhacked) purpose is mostly for multiple pet households to prevent food theft or enforcing special diets.


For some reason, based on the OP's article, I'm imagining your other cats holding the "authorized" cat up to the machine by the neck like a shakedown. :-P Kinda like in DooM when you use a dead security guard's torso to open up a locked door.


Until the dog comes to the machine with the cat (and its RFID) in its mouth.


If you're giving them an automated feeder, why not just let them eat (from it) at 4AM?


Because the feeder holds a single meal and is designed for access control (multiple pets) and not really automatic/timed feeding. A feeder with a sort of food hopper isn't too useful to me since I alternate dry/wet food for breakfast/dinner. A lockout timer would be though!


Only feed them dry for breakfast using the machine; do wet manually at night.


This.

Dry before work.

Wet when someone gets home. A little dry later. (Which they don't touch right away because they're satiated.)

Wet right before bed. They don't get ticked off unless you sleep in late because the late wet food is so good.

Cured the cat clawing at the door all night because we were trying to put them on a human food schedule for the wet stuff.


You don't need a special device, just don't ever feed your cat when it's bugging you. You taught him that bugging you gets him food. It's probably too late now for you though lol.


Im not a cat owner and this might seem a bit strange. Why not just out the cat in a cage with food/water/bed before going to sleep?


I think the vast majority of cat owners would consider that not only strange but cruel as well. Cats need quite a bit of room for mental well being, let alone general health, and locking them in cages at night is definitely harmful. Doing so at night, for a nocturnal animal, is doubly so. Cages are only broken out temporarily for transportation and health reasons.


I see. That makes sense. :)


Cats don't like being in cages, and they are nocturnal animals.

Personally, I just put him with food and water in the garage (and a trapdoor to go outside), but then I live in the countryside.

If I forget, he wakes me up to go outside anyways...


That sounds like a better solution. Does the cat have issues with wild animals?


Well, apart from killing small rodents (which isn't a problem AFAIK in France), and small territory fights with other cats, there have been not problem.


This would be a very cruel thing to do to a cat.


in all fairness, waking up a human everyday hours before feeding time and all the other things I'm reading in this thread, the cruelty goes both ways.

now the human has responsibility because they started it when they brought the cat in.

though the cat doesn't seem to mind because hey free food and they get to act however the way they want and the human will think it's adorable.

it is so weird. even though as a human I also find cats often to be adorable. this is a reason I would never get one.


It is an admirable quality to recognize that you are not an appropriate owner for an animal.


haha thanks I guess :) interesting way of looking at it. Not sure why you chose to generalise it over all animals. The strange one-sided adversarial relationship I sketched is quite particular to cats and cat owners. I just don't see myself willingly entering that role.

But the relationship between dogs and humans seems a lot less alien to me. I might one day, I could use the company. But it's a lot of responsibility.


Sorry I wasn't intending to generalise in that sense.


Feed him at 7 pm.


Or you could just use a $5 lamp timer.


Wait until you get children. Those bastards have the same brain as yours and tiny tiny hands.

Preventing them from opening closets, garbage cans and cabinets is an arms race. You know you will eventually lose, the only thing you can do is slow them down.


This reminded me of the video game Who's Your Daddy[0]. It's 1-on-1 with asymmetric gameplay; the goal of the dad is to take care of the baby, while the goal of the baby is to kill itself.

[0]: http://store.steampowered.com/app/427730/


Yes, but with kids, you can at least have the hope that they'll eventually learn to know better. With cats... not so much.


Yes it gets better. My 4 year old tidies up after her 2 year old sister. She even get's angry that she is making a mess.


So now the 2year old will learn that she can do all the mess she wants because she has her own cleaning maid... Just wait for it.


Well, you've got to get some benefit out of older siblings...


The problem, as in most difficult hacking operations, is that the attacker has physical access.

I would have put the machine in a base cabinet, run a chute out a small hole cut in the toe mould, and if necessary, put a child lock on the cabinet.


That's topologically equivalent to what OP did.


And OP is topologically equivalent to a bagel (disregarding nostrils)


If we're going to arbitrarily ignore orifices, then I'm a sphere.



OP is topologically equivalent to a bagel (disregarding nostrils)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustachian_tube


The eustachian tube is sealed, unless you have a hole in your eardrum.


There's also the nasolacrimal duct to consider. Other than those little details, one of my favorite insights from studying biology is that almost all animals are basically tubes with accessory organs attached, deuterostomes and protostomes.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Protovsdeuterostomes.svg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protostome : "In animals at least as complex as earthworms, the embryo forms a dent on one side, the blastopore, which deepens to become the archenteron, the first phase in the growth of the gut. In deuterostomes, the original dent becomes the anus while the gut eventually tunnels through to make another opening, which forms the mouth. The protostomes were so named because it used to be thought that in their embryos the dent formed the mouth while the anus was formed later, at the opening made by the other end of the gut."


I had a simple auger-fed model for our cat. I realized very quickly she could reach up there and get food meant for the next cycle... and eventually realized I didn't care. If she takes the food intended for the next cycle, less comes out next, and if she goes into the next meals portion again, she's getting the same amount of food, and some stimulation for free trying to get it out.


I thought this too! Except our cat never lost any weight, and seemed to be getting fatter, until we put the feeder in a laundry basket, and now they can't get access anymore and have slowly been losing weight.

The laundry basket is the tall type, with a hole cut in the bottom and a funnel installed, plus a chute screwed on for good measure. It's mounted on the wall, raised about 1ft, so they can't get their grubby little paws in there.


The problem-solving abilities of that cat are pretty impressive. I couldn't imagine my cat bracing himself against a table and picking up the whole feeder with his teeth, I wish there had been a video of that.

The creativity and versatility of even a "simple" biological intelligence is a humbling reminder of how much work we have ahead for AI research.


Let me Dungeon Master this for you: You're trapped in a few rooms all day, every day. You don't know how to read. Your best friend is gone or asleep for 17 hours a day. You're a little bored, but you're also not very smart, so it's kind of okay. But you do have a lot of time on your paws.

There's a weird contraption that feeds you twice a day. And you can see food still up there, on the conveyor belt.

How would you like to spend the next 7 hours?


Well said.

My wife and I personally think it's borderline inhumane to keep a dog by itself all day, since they are extremely social.

While we usually don't keep solitary cats, I don't think it's that uncomfortable for cats to be alone, though per your DM interpretation, they will commonly get into things. Which they will do in groups too.


Some cats do much better when they have other animals or cat friends to socialize with. It depends on a number of factors, and much like human, not every cat is the same.

The amount of desired human attention sought from cats in our household has has decreased as the number of cats in the has increased. That's not to say they don't still want our attention, or that we don't give it to them. Having friends to keep busy seems to make the days go by easier.


I have a pair of cats (sibling boy and girl), girl cat is cuddly and wants attention, boy cat is solo and likes been on his own and rarely wants a fuss, both miss the other if they aren't their even if they rarely bother with each other.

When the boy went to be neutered, the girl spent the whole day going from room to room meowing and looking in his usual spots.

When she went to be fixed, he did the same.

I'll probably never have a single cat again (some of that is that they are used to each others presence I'm sure) since they are excellent company for each other.


Cats also have no problem whatsoever spending sixteen hours a day unconscious, merrily dreaming about whatever cats tend to have dreams about. Closer to twenty as they grow older.


This is the most insightful comment I've seen on HN in a couple of days. This is exactly the kind of thinking that UX designers and PMs taking bug reports need to exercise!


Smartphones, laptops and desktop computers should be able to dispense food to humans as rewards. That would revolutionize UX design and human computer interaction.


Instructions unclear, my macbook's air vents are now stuffed with peanut butter M&Ms.


Typical coder hardware engineering!


NORTH


> There's a weird contraption that feeds you twice a day. And you can see food still up there, on the conveyor belt.

Or smell it. Consider that cats have better smell than us, and that cat food is designed to smell especially good and addicting to cats. Then that noisy box probably reeks like delicious food all the time for the cat. Probably drove it nuts ;)


You can make squirrels do amazing things to get bird feeding nuts if you incrementally add obstacles.

Here's one example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMtn25zxT10


I'm impressed by both of the adversaries in this story.


My ex girlfriend's cat was a fat cat and would nip the back of our legs when he was hungry. I spent one night building an Arduino feeder that rationed his food out throughout the day, and by the next morning it had been destroyed. He also loved to "experiment with gravity" by pushing things off tables and windowsills, for which he also destroyed most of the engineering work I did to deter him. So I know firsthand what an impressive feat it is to cat-proof anything.


> So I know firsthand what an impressive feat it is to cat-proof anything.

The fact that it took 1/8" steel plate to cat proof it is an amazing testament to the ingenuity of those little serial killers.


One of our greedy cats used to attempt to get into the Andrew James automatic feeders, even though he never could. He'd do this noisily at 4 in the morning. We've had to go back to manual feeding, and for this our cats have tried pulling the carpet up, chewing off our hair, dragging our hair, batting us in the face, meowing incessantly from a distance, chewing the MP3 player in the room, chewing the window handles, chewing the lamp, rocking the wireless phone backwards and forwards so that it beeps, chewing the phone charger, digging our slippers into oblivion, digging through my wife's handbag, clawing the bannisters, jumping onto the banisters whilst shouting in a catlike manner and precariously wobbling around (I fear he'll fall down onto the ground floor and damage himself badly, he'll fall on the stairs), pulling bifold doors open (he can grab them with his paw underneath), biting our hands. British Shorthairs are STRONG. Anything to get us up!

Our golden wonder cat Sponge has never done anything to get us up. He patiently waits. He's lovely.


Of course sponge never does anything, he/she's got a guy for that!


Ah so he's an evil mastermind with his naughty minions to do his dirty work eh? I had never thought of that...

Oddly he never made a fuss even when he was a kitten (before we got this other gang of pests). He's just such a calm cat and actually calms you down if you pick him up [slows your heartbeat down] (he'll purr if you just look in his direction normally)


When people talk about how their pets are acting funny, I always wonder whether they realize that it's because of the boring habitat their pets have been put in. Asking them about it is delicate because it implies that their pet might be unhappy about its situation.


I can personally just bring up that my cat does (xyz) when bored. If you don't have such a cat, "A cat I had once" or "a cat a friend had" works as well.

It is a great non-confrontational way to say the same thing - and one most folks are willing to try because it is cheaper than a vet visit.


You must entertain your cat(s). I find it best to do so consciously for fear of what the cat will deem entertaining otherwise.


Or let your cat out - it would rather entertain itself killing the local wildlife.


Not everyone has a house... I wouldn't let my cat out in the middle of Manhattan.

(Even if I think you shouldn't own a cat if you don't have somewhere for it to roam, sometimes, life happens)


Or maybe a bunch of dogs will entertain themselves by killing the cat.


I wanted to downvote you, but this is part of why letting cats out is cruel. They're best off living a life of leisure indoors. Make sure it's a good life by entertaining and caring for them. That's what pets are supposed to experience in the modern era.


> but this is part of why letting cats out is cruel.

Because they might die relatively quickly and painlessly at some point? How is that cruel?

Given the choice, cats always prefer to go outside, even after being exposed to hostile animals outside. Presumably their walnut brains have evolved heuristics w.r.t. the utility of being eaten. Plus, I think I'd rather be killed by a dog than slowly grow arthritic, tumorous, and blind until I can't eat anymore and I have to be taken to that place I hate so they can stick a needle in me and kill me. If that's "what pets are supposed to experience in the modern era" then I want none of it.

I've had a number of cats, and the outdoor ones don't usually live as long as the indoor ones, but they seem a lot happier about it. Live fast, die young.


In my case I got sick of cats coming into my life and then promptly dying within a year of that.

As far as keeping them happy goes, I have found that they tend to do well if they have other cats for company. Solitary cats usually don't make great pets.

I am however, talking about stray cats with no breeding history. I have heard that many pet cat breeds are bred for specific behavioral traits which make them better suited for an indoor only life. I also don't condone such practices.


I have 5 cats in my home right now. All of them healthy and since they constantly play among themselves, I would assume they are happy too. Our family is financially well off, considering all things, so we had the time and resources to modify our home so that a bunch of cats would be comfortable living with us.

With regards to your comment, forgive me but I find such a way of thinking to be extreme with no middle ground. I am from India and all sorts of people keep pets here. In many cases the pets are strays who just wander into people's lives. Since everyone does not have the money to provide for an indoor animal, your way of thinking would deprive a lot of animals of some measure of human kindness. Considering the short brutal lives they would have otherwise, any human help is better than none at all.


No. Not letting cats out is cruel. They are outdoor animals by nature. They enjoy exploring the neighborhood(how much varies from cat to cat). And they have instincts to deal with whatever might be out there.

If you live in an area that really is too dangerous to let the cat out, then you were being cruel by getting a cat in the first place.


That's a level of wanton cruelty I wouldn't expect a dog to exhibit.


Badly trained and feral dogs definitely love to kill smaller animals. I've lost chickens to a neighbor's dog and at least one cat to the feral dog packs that roam San Antonio. There are certain social groups there who don't exercise good pet ownership and see releasing unwanted puppies onto the street as a preferable alternative to spaying and neutering.

Standard operating procedure on rural ranch land is to shoot any dog that you don't recognize near your livestock. The reasoning is that it's either feral, has a disease, or is poorly trained enough to leave its own property. Either way, it poses a serious risk to your livestock; such dogs frequently kill small animals (chickens, rabbits, barn cats, etc.) in bulk (they don't even bother pausing before going to the next one) and will sometimes kill or harass large animals like cows or goats.

People often have a pretty optimistic view of dog behavior because their main exposure to dogs is as relatively well-trained, well-fed, and neutered pets.


I lived in the country side for a long time. It was a small farming town of no more than 1000 people surrounded by farming and grazing land. I don't remember dogs attacking anything other then themselves. They were never a problem with livestock, chickens, etc. They did sometimes bite a human, most cases it was the human's fault. Kids sometimes had a habit of tormenting dogs by throwing rocks at them so it was no surprise that some of them would turn on you.

>>Either way, it poses a serious risk to your livestock; such dogs frequently kill small animals (chickens, rabbits, barn cats, etc.) in bulk (they don't even bother pausing before going to the

I've never actually seen this nor heard anybody in the town mention this as a problem. I still have family there that farms and raises livestock and to this day I've never heard something like this mentioned.


I don't know what to say; what I said applied in both rural Idaho and Texas. People don't exactly bring it up in conversation, as it's kind of unfortunate. Dogs aren't nearly as much of a problem as hogs here in TX, but people do have to deal with them occasionally. It's usually not an issue because farmers know to keep their dogs chained/fenced up or to train them not to wander around.


Google it. Dog gangs have been known to kill unattended children and even elderly people.



This is the best up-armoured cat feeder I've seen this week. Kudos to Quinn for never giving up.

I'm terrified to think what the next step will be once Sprocket chooses to escalate.


"Today I came home and found my cat using a plasma cutter"


Mine found easier to use my desktop pc to order cat food from Amazon...

/me does not (any longer) own a cat.


It's a joke, until you get one of those Amazon wifi buttons that orders things automatically...


> Kudos to Quinn for never giving up.

Kudos to the cat for never giving up. My cat is clever and stubborn but this cat is downright devious.


> I'm terrified to think what the next step will be once Sprocket chooses to escalate.

I think we should be very happy that cats don't have opposable thumbs.


With Amazon echo and such devices, you never know when you'll come home to a miniature safecracking kit.


After a few hits at it, the realization dawns on our hero: "I can order cat food with this?"


"I can has order cat food?"


After about a year the cat will have pulled the whole thing apart through sheer, continued prying.


It looks like a prison cat feeder.


I thought the same thing, and it's basically the same solution to the same problem. Bored people/cats with nothing to do -> make room fixtures impossible to tamper with.


I went through a similar sort of battle with my cat. I lucked out on an ugly, but thus-far impenetrable solution.

http://imgur.com/wQNebLM

I bought that feeder at the last minute before we left town for a weekend, which was just long enough that we needed the cat to be fed, but just short enough that it didn't make sense to bug friends or a service. Ran to the store and grabbed the only one they had, which is to say, no real research was involved beyond necessity.

It's an OK feeder. I don't love it. But I _really_ love having an automated feeder. It literally improved our lives. There were issues, which I'll explain, but for the $80 I spent on it, I couldn't just chuck the thing. I had to at least try to work it out.

First problem was that the bowl is detachable. So almost immediately, the cat would knock the bowl off trying to get under the feeder for more food. And when feeding time came, it just emptied onto the floor. Tape fixed that.

And then he realized that if he lifted the feeder with his face, it would drop a few pebbles of food into the bowl. And so he started knocking the thing around when he got hungry. This wasn't a huge deal at first. He'd do it a couple times and then go back to sleep.

And then we went away for another weekend. When we got home, the feeder was on the other side of the apartment. "Cute", we thought, put the feeder back and went about our day.

The next night, at about 2am, the cat spent a full hour trying to get in. He was lifting the feeder about once per minute, sometimes more. So just a constant banging for a full hour until I got up to do something about it. I tried to leave it be as I got some work done, but it got worse and louder. Just as I arrived on the scene, he'd popped the top off - though he hadn't realized he could get the food from the top.

So, at a loss for time as I needed to get back to work, I did what's shown in the photo. Taped the lid under a tall chair. I figured that would buy me some time to get back to work and I could try to work on a better solution in a day or so. It's been that way for about 4 months now.

The magic of it is that the cat can't get enough leverage on the feeder to knock it around and get food out. And if he lifts the chair (with his face), the tape has enough give that the chair moves, but the feeder remains unmolested. It looks ridiculous, but it solved the problem, so we're leaving it as is. That chair is now part of the cat feeder.


Jeff Atwood also wrote an interesting article about cat feeding machines but with a slightly different topic:

"This Is All Your App Is: a Collection of Tiny Details"

https://blog.codinghorror.com/this-is-all-your-app-is-a-coll...


do not feed cats from a machine. Even if you are super busy, give her food in the morning and after you get home from work, that's more than enough. Perhaps at the same time as your breakfast and your dinner. Despite the common perception of cats as 'loners' , they still want to be part of your 'gang' not a lonely creature feeding from a machine.

Ideally you would want to play with the cat before feeding her so she associates food with hunting not as a cure to boredom. Even if you are too busy to do that, the act of giving your cat food can be a bonding experience for a cat that's stuck indoors 24/7. Many cat health issues can be diagnosed by keeping an eye of food habit since cats famously hide their weakness (to not signal weakness to predators, i would imagine). Free feeding cats would hide their illness till its too late to do anything about it.

Same with litter even if you use 'litter robot' keep an eye on the poop when you change the litter, common kidney diseases can be instantly identified by glancing at poop.


My wife and I have two cats and I work out of the house and getting automatic feeders was a godsend. They used to routinely wake us in the middle of the night by meowing and jumping on us, and meow incessantly in the evenings. Our feeders give them a little bit of food five times a day and they no longer meow at us when they're hungry; they sit by their feeder and wait for the food. We cuddle with them multiple times a day and play with them as much as possible, and they are incredibly loved. I like your sentiment that cats should be more than just fixtures in our household, but I feel your advice is a bit unfair.


Similar situation here. Separating the concept of humans from food providers has been very beneficial in our household. We still give the cats a lot of attention.


As an owner of multiple cats, and fiance to a licensed veterinary technician, this sounds like good and sensible advice for maintaining a cat's health and well-being. We've caught many health issues by noticing changes in feeding, drinking, poo and litter box use. I don't know why you've gotten so many downvotes.


Having a feeding machine that operates on a regular schedule when your schedule is anything but does not mean you're being a delinquent pet owner. It doesn't mean you're oblivious to your pet's health.

Some people have automatic coffee makers that run on a timer. Does that make them indifferent to their own health?


I didn't read any implication of delinquency or obliviousness into the OP's post. It seemed merely informative and another aspect to think about when considering how and when to feed your pets. A disagreement is not necessarily adversarial.


An automated feeder has been actively better for my cat's health. She is eating the correct amount now. When I was feeding her by hand on a diet, she blamed me for it.


>Some people have automatic coffee makers that run on a timer. Does that make them indifferent to their own health?

This analogy is very far off from feeding your cat from a machine.

Feeding a cat is 1. giving it food 2. bonding and establishing a relationship 3. chance to check on cat's well being.

People can talk and tell someone if they are unwell.


Having an automatic thermostat is being indifferent to the climate.

In the old days we'd shovel coal into the furnace. We were in tune with nature.


While I believe your contribution is an interesting one I recommend to not assume too much. We got 2 cats from the animal shelter, and they are not very playful (relatively speaking). They're generally afraid, tho much less nowadays.

What we do is we feed them manually, once a day, the very same amount (using the same bowl as scoop) in the evening before we go to bed (he's on a diet for FLUTD, and she has to eat the same food so she's slightly obese). This gives us the advantage that the cats are not annoying during night, and if they eat too much they'll have to wait till the evening (which means we either get annoyed during day time, or we don't notice since we're not around). We also give them fresh water at the same time.

A major issue is when we're gone for more than a day. But a cat feed machine wouldn't be adequate. Cats need fresh water as well, and enough. Refilling when it is empty isn't enough. Algae are being formed. So this requires manual labour, daily.


Great points. Also feeding cats only dry food can lead to kidney problems in old age - they do not naturally drink much water, instead relying on moisture from their food sources. Feed good quality canned food!


Did you even read the article? TFA's cat gets wet food in the morning, dry in the evening.


https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Under "In Comments", third paragraph.


Very good points about monitoring your cat's inputs and outputs. My cat develops urinary tract issues about once a year and you notice the reduced appetite and litter box use. I have a Litter Robot so I do make sure to check it at least once a day. The litter box is another thing I'd like to throw an ESP2866 in so I can monitor litter box use frequency.

Any ideas on how to detect a poop versus a piss? Perhaps there are urea sensors? The mass of the litter clump would be another good data point to measure, but I don't have any ideas about how to set it up with the Robot.

This hacker has the right idea:

https://twitter.com/litterboxtweets


You could record the time the cat spends doing his business, a poop should take longer.


Unfortunately your common sense is in the minority of opinion here. HN is plagued by overeager engineers who endlessly discuss the how without addressing the much more important why.

Why bother having a pet at all if you're not going to personally care for it?


Give me a break.

The author was giving two meals a day and often got home late in the evenings. Only the evening meal was from a machine. Don't act like the cat is being abused. The author looks like she is providing the cat with a very nice life.

"Whys?" It helps prevent tripping incidents when the cat knows its food time and is rubbing on your feet as you walk. It helps with anxiety associated with irregular feedings. That's just two reasons I thought of off the top of my head.


>The author was giving two meals a day and often got home late in the evenings.

"An automated feeder would save me one chore per day, and I wouldn’t have to worry about getting home late in the evenings."

You seem to have ignored "save me one chore per day" which is what my original comment was in response too. Occasional late meal is not a big deal at all, you don't need to go about inventing ridiculous machines for that.


>Occasional late meal is not a big deal at all

How do you, personally, anonymous Internet commenter, know how much stress this specific cat has when the evening meal is late?

You can give constructive comments about the benefits of manual feeding vs auto feeding without being rude and speaking in absolutes. There's certainly benefits of both options that differ with individual cats and circumstances.


>without being rude

def not my intention. Can you point out where i was rude so i can keep that in mind for future.

What I said of course is not true for special needs cats, do whats best for your cat if its special needs. I assumed we are talking about the 99% general case because original article didn't mention any special requirements that her cat had. I doubt anyone reading that blog would get the impression that her cat is special needs. Would you tell you someone "not speak in absolutes" to if she says "don't don't declaw your cat" ?

I know many cat owners who "play" with their cat by dangling a feather on its head, telling them to improve the play by creating intrigue and mystery during the play by hiding the source of noise is not an insult, I wouldn't think so. I made many pet owner mistakes myself. Unfortunately cats have the misguided 'easy maintenance' reputation which works against their well being.


"Why" is having control over frequency and quantity. If you have an over-weight cat you may need to dial that down gently over time to avoid too much protesting.

The writer clearly indicated this is just for one meal of the day. People are losing their shit here as if this cat is locked in a room for months on end with no human contact.


No one is losing their shit.


I was with you until the second line. You're extrapolating how much they care about their pet based on just this?


This is amazing, but I have to say, I really don't think it will work for my cat. He would learn to use an acetylene torch if there was food as a reward.


Had similar problems with our cat who was able to retrieve food from every automatic feeder we tried, apart from the perfect pet feeder [1] which was the only model that defeated him.

[1] http://www.perfectpetfeeder.com/


Why not just leave the dry food out? Most cats won't overeat.


Exactly, most. Mine, however, do, and then they get sick and nauseous and barf.


This. Mine will eat and eat and then I will manage his weight back down from 21 pounds again.


That is amazing. I'm so glad I can just free feed my cat with out her getting obese, or even fat.


Haha, I know! chucks a week's worth of food in 5 bowls "peace out cats, see you next week!"


ours are usually like that but the bigger one... if he can even see the bottom of the food bowl? his little cat world is upside down. i can usually just shake the bowl and set it back down and he's happy.


Lucky you!


"You might say I’ve won this battle. However I just spent 20 hours armor-plating a cat feeder. I think we know who’s really in control here, don’t we?"


Someone in the other thread suggested the problem is she can smell the rest of the food. I'd bet that's a huge contributor.


I thought the same when he said the cat was no longer interested in trying to defeat the metal box -- I bet the cat can't smell the food as strongly as it did without the box.

I've always found it easier to trick cats rather than force them to do things. But to trick a cat you must think like one. :)


I would add an exhaust fan, to prevent smell in the bowl area.


All of the attack vectors of that specific cat feeder have been addressed by mine.

I applaud the ingenuity, but fear she spent far more time and money "fixing" this one instead of doing a little amazon shopping.

I also hope that she unbolts that bowl to clean it every week.


I suspect this is one of those cases where it starts out as just a quick fix, and soon turns into a challenge where buying a better feeder feels too much like cheating.


Somewhat relevant and got some attention on HN recently:

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/cats_actually_kill


Wow. That's...disturbing...


This is an excellent example of why AI safety can never work by listing bad outcomes.

And the cat is not even superintelligent.


The cat also has fairly easily understood goals.

If, instead, the cat were trying to turn everything into paperclips it might be harder to combat its efforts because you'd never figure out what it was trying to do beyond causing chaos.


Wait, I fail to see how "converting everything into paperclips" is a more complex and hard to understand goal than "getting food"


Imagine what a cat _trying_ to turn everything into paper clips would look like.


My plan if I were to ever build a robot I'd use a cat's brain as the AI template for the brain.

Move something 1mm the cat comes into the room and seems to be thinking "Hey who messed up the place? What's going on?"

Cats are little pattern recognition machines.


Compare to cows, who after being trained by real cattle guards, won't step on painted lines that simulate them.


But on the other side, compare with pigeons who could pilot a glider bomb into WWII enemy ships:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Pigeon

(As the owner of both a cat and parrot, I've learned not to underestimate their intelligence.)


Relevant short story by esteemed science fiction author Ted Chiang (author of /Story of Your Life/, which got turned into the movie /Arrival/): The Great Silence. http://supercommunity.e-flux.com/texts/the-great-silence/


Admittedly, cattle have been selectively bred for compliance for millennia, whereas I kind of suspect that humans encourage cats' hunting behaviour.


This should give a moment's pause to anyone who thinks we could keep a superhuman AI in a box.


You're joking, but let's not forget that we had to reset the universe the last twenty-three times this happened.


Man did I get lucky with my cat when reading all these comments here... She always has a bowl of food available, only touches it when she's hungry and rarely finishes it completely. I fill it up once or twice a day, and she mostly ignores me when I do. The most she does is come and smell the freshly poured food from time to time, but with little interest in actually touching it at that point - even when her bowl had been completely empty. And when she eats, she's always very calm about it, like there's no rush.

And it doesn't stop there. She knows how to use the litter-box, but she prefers to go outside - which means I rarely have to clean it - like once every month at most, only when she has been left inside for too long. I should find something to notify me when she actually used it.

She probably spends 70% indoor, 30% outdoor, which is when she terrorizes the other, more tame (but much larger) cats of the neighborhood or goes hunting. I should also find something that addresses here hunting nature, because the rate at which birds and mice are dropped at my back-door is quite alarming. A collar with a bell didn't seem to affect her hunting success-rate at all, and only gave her an allergic reaction to the collar - so we removed it.


Wonder what would happen if you just gave the cat unlimited access to a large bowl of unguarded food all day every day. Would the cat eventually self-regulate the amount it ate? Or would you just end up with a really fat cat? Or both to some degree?


Depends on the cat. Some will self-regulate and maintain a healthy weight but many will over-eat.


This is correct. I had some cats who self-regulate and some who will overeat. The overeater was a stray cat initially which explains the behaviour.


This is very true.

I have two cats, male and female. They are from the same litter, and have had the same upbringing. One is quite chubby, the other stays fairly thin. The chubby one is also naturally lazier.


Different cats have different histories with food security too, which probably plays a role.


This is exactly what we do with our cat. We just refill the bowl when it starts to get empty. I would say his weight is average to slightly below average. We have done this since he was a kitten so perhaps that's why it works quite well.


I have (too) many cats.

We just leave a bowl with kibble out for them during the day. Most of them self regulate. Two (out of six!) don't, and are a bit overweight.


My old neighbour had two cats (siblings) with unlimited food supply. Interestingly one of them was normal sized and the other one was extremely fat.


I do that to my cat. At first he sometimes ate until he throws up, but now he learned not to eat too much at once and prefer to eat little by little throughout the day.

His sibling on the other hand would eat quite a lot, but only if the food is fresh out of the bag, so ultimately she doesn't eat that much throughout the day.


Knowing cats... It would just end up with a really fat cat.


I'm not much of a hardware hacker but it'd be interesting to work on a wet food cat feeding machine.


i was always a big bowl of dry food pet owner, but when my cat got older and couldn't keep her weight up, i had to get her on wet food.

i don't think it would be hard to dispense from the puck cans, or extrude out of a plastic sack.

but it seems like portioning would be hard with the cans.

i can't imagine how it would clean itself though. even if you were wasteful enough to use disposable feeding dishes you'd be functioning as much as a bio reactor for flies and bacteria as much as a feeding station.

incineration? alcohol? steam cleaning and a sewer hookup?


He/she needs the Feed and Go.

http://www.feedandgo.com/

It is expensive but impregnable. My cat can smell the food in there, so for the first couple of days he relentlessly attacked it. But he can't get in so he has given up.

He can figure his way into many things, including most trash cans, so we put kitchen trash into a 5-gallon bucket with a screw top lid.

Most pet feeders are cheap, poorly thought out, and easily penetrated by cats.


Mostly foiled by this copper, she then went back again to the lift-and-drop strategy. This time she figured out she could rotate my hold-down clamp out of the way, and again the machine was free to lift.

Is this an indication of cat cleverness, or tech person's engineering ineffectiveness?

If I ever design a cat feeder, then I'll design one with discrete feeding compartments, and holes tapped in a bottom plate for hold-down screws.


I highly recommend the PetNet SmartFeeder. I've had two for both of my cats for the past year, and they work great. It allows you to setup automated timed feeds for several meals a day, then pings your phone each time a feed goes off (for peace of mind).

The product design is about as nice looking as you can make a feeder, and the mobile app's UI has improved a lot over the past few months to a good state.


There have also been some curious outages server-side that have caused the feeder to not actually feed.

You would think an IoT device like this would default to using a locally stored schedule or something.


I have the PetNet and my cat has no problem detaching the bowl. Bane of my existence.


How? Do you have an older model? The entire feeder sits on the metal bowl and to remove it requires that I lift up the entire feeder.


The beta model and the production model are both quite easy to remove with a small amount of pressure. The production model takes a bit more work but not much.

This video is from when I had the beta feeder but the same principle applies: https://youtu.be/YHq1xHL8p2o


After about the second failure I would have gotten one of those auto feeders that let out as much as they want and some weight control cat food.


Cat was eating so much volume she was vomiting. Weight control food doesn't help with this issue.

Additionally, my obese cat was on a very controlled amount of "diet" food for years, it doesn't actually work. Switched him to Blue Buffalo and didn't observe any weight change.

And before anyone asks, yes, the cat has been to the vet and has gotten all the blood work and I've tried multiple meals and everything. Don't even go there.


That's a good way to make cats fat and eventually diabetic. On top of free feeding alone causing obesity in a lot of cats, "weight control" cat food is the worst stuff, it's mostly grains (carbs) which a cat -- an obligate carnivore -- doesn't need in its diet at all.


I can't speak for anyone else, but with the cat I used to have, that would've resulted in an empty cat feeder and a very sick cat within an evening. I had to hide absolutely anything even vaguely edible, especially (bizarrely) bread, which the cat adored and which caused it terrible diarrhoea... Not all cats are created equal!


There's no such thing as "weight control" (dry) cat food except on food packaging by the crooked pet food business. The stuff invariably is full of carb, which cats do not metabolize like we do (they get their glucose through gluconeogenesis, from meat) and it's far too dry (cats on a normal diet gets the bulk of their water from "wet" food, and get much less water when on dry food, leading to kidney stones and bladder problems).

Cats are true carnivores. They shouldn't be getting dry food to begin with.


How common is it to need to restrict a cats eating? I always just keep dry food constantly available for my cat. She is around 14 years old and is a dainty little thing. I've never had any issue with her overeating or anything. When I'm away from home for a couple days, I'll just fill a really large bowl and leave it for her and there's usually a bunch left when I get back. Is this terribly unusual?


It seems cats have a range.

Some, like yours, will just eat as hungry. Daintily. One of my cats is like this.

Some cats tend to be chubby. They will eat on cues, and eat often. I have one of these cats as well. He's also a somewhat finicky eater - he'll eat lots or refuse to eat. He's been a bit large since he was born, but I don't have a need to restrict food yet.

And some cats will just eat until they throw up. Sometimes it is because of food insecurity, sometimes just personality. For these cats it is pretty vital the food is regulated.

Sidenote: There are other reasons to regulate food as well. I once had a cat with allergies and was fed prescription dry food, twice a day, as per vet instructions. Sad that I had to put that cat down due to health.


It's not unusual, but the cause is unfortunate. If she's 14 years old and you feed her dry food, she probably has bad teeth. Does she have 'cat breath'? When they have bad teeth, it's a balance of the pain from hunger vs the pain from eating, and tend to be skinny. It might be time to add some wet food to her diet.

Bad teeth aren't a problem for cats in the wild because they live on average 3-5 years, but the majority of house cats will have teeth problems as they get older.


Running a background check on your partner is the anatomist rule of dating . ascertain if they are who they claim to be in the first place and best smart about it by hiring professionals via www.consultanthackers.com


> You need opposable thumbs to remove a bolt (even a finger-tight one), so I’m confident this is secure.

> You might say I’ve won this battle. However I just spent 20 hours armor-plating a cat feeder. I think we know who’s really in control here, don’t we?

I find this very disturbing... That said, the final result looks very well-made. Nice hacking!


Simpler solution? Place cat feeder on top of refrigerator, long tube to direct falling food down to bowl on floor.


The top of a refrigerator is an easily accessible location for a feline.

Additionally, putting any expensive gadget up high above a hard surface is a recipe for disaster.


> Additionally, putting any expensive gadget up high above a hard surface is a recipe for disaster.

Machine parts and cat vomit (because the explosion will have dropped all the dry food through the room) not your style?


Both my cats get up on the refrigerator easily.


There's this joke that goes something like this:

- What's the highest a cat can jump?

- [... no idea or wrong answer ...]

- How high do you store your food?

Vid of a cat jumping over 1m90 high:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mw7CURpGRmw


2 of my 3 cats are quite regularly on top of the refrigerator. One likes to nap up there, and the other likes to experiment with gravity by knocking magnets off the fridge. The only reason the 3rd doesn't get up there is because she is almost 18 years old and has arthritis and can't jump anymore. When she was younger she would use the fridge as a stepping stone to get on top of the kitchen cabinets and regularly nap there. There is no such thing as a cat-proof vertical height.


Wow I had the same problem with the exact same feeder. This solution is awesome! I just ended up tying the unit to a table and called it a day. I also adjusted the food output, knowing he was going to get extra food from reaching up inside the feeder.


I had 10+ cats at some moment and feeding them was a challenge.

I used to form lines with cat food. Looked a bit like farming.

Birds then would try to eat the remains, only to become additional cat food.

I've heard some vegans force their cats to become vegans as well. I think it is not healthy.


> I've heard some vegans force their cats to become vegans as well. I think it is not healthy.

You are correct. I'm mostly vegetarian (I eat fish), but I won't do that to a cat. They need meat for health, and not doing so is cruelty.

I truly wish that these folks would give the cats away to someone that can feed them properly and invest in a vegetarian pet that fits their lifestyle: Birds, iguana, and so on.


After reading, I can't help but think that the problem is that the cat knows there is food inside.. is there a leak where the scent gets out?

I would try sealant around all the seams And revert back to so lesser security measures to test it.


Obviously all the software development managers are going to gravitate to this thread..


Could one draft a NN-Algorithm from this? One NN as a antagonistic force, trying to overcome a machines original purpose, one as a deterring force, that alters the CAD-model?


"It’s almost as though there’s a psychological effect of the imposing structure that is keeping her from even trying."

What like being able to see how much cat food is still in the machine?


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