Introduction: Cat Powered Auto Feeder

Picture of Cat Powered Auto Feeder

I needed a self feeder for my cat, so he would stop waking me up. After looking around on the Net (and instructables) I did find one that I based this feeder on, in a book called (Snowball Launchers, Giant-Pumpkin Growers, and Other Cool Contraptions by Tom Fox) I take no credit for it. Just didn’t like the idea of using cardboard. I also wasted a lot of time trying to use electric motors and timers. This was a much better idea and has been working well so far.

Step 1: Tools and Parts

Picture of Tools and Parts

Tools Needed:  Something to make holes (knife, scissors, drill)

Parts: Clamp type paper clip, rubber bands, golf ball, wire (bread) tie, round food container, 2 liters pop bottle (not shown) and at least one screw for mounting. ((PVC pipe see update on Step 5))

Step 2:

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Cut a small hole in the lid of the food container, big enough for the rubber band to go through. In the bottom of the container cut a hole just big enough to thread the pop bottle into.

Step 3:

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Take the bottle and cut it down to make a funnel that will fit tight inside the food container.

Cut the hole in the clear cup just big enough so the bottle can be threaded through it, (were the cap was) This will keep it in place.

Step 4:

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Run the wire through the ball, this will keep the cat from chewing on the rubber band. Add rubber bands until it will reach the top of the container.

Step 5:

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That’s it, now just thread the bottle into the inside of the container, run the rubber band with the ball into the bottle and pull it up to the hole in the lid clipping it with the paper clip.   Update.... the top turned out to be to thin, so the clip was replaced with a PVC pipe.

Step 6:

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Use the screws to mount it to something solid, and high enough to remove the lid. The edge of his play tower worked out well. If you need to I’m sure you could mount it to the wall with a block of wood.

Training was pretty easy. Show your cat that food will fall each time the ball is pushed or pulled down. With Apollo, it took one time. One problem I did find is he will pull the clip off the top dropping the ball, but only when he runs out of food.


Waalcko made it! (author)2017-04-02

this instructable is in my list of favourites for a while. Decided to make it because one of my cats is not taking the time to eat properly. That is, devouring, swallows without chewing and then vomiting. Repeating cyclus. I changed the ball for a toy mouse and made a frame around it. As with all cat related things, I am more excited about it then my feline friends. Best result so far; she's licked the mouse. But I am still confident. Thank you for sharing.

Fleury1982 (author)2016-10-10

Nice Check this 1 i have it's pretty good


AntoineF4 made it! (author)2016-01-27

Simple and fast to make. Awesome

LardaLot (author)2010-02-01

nice idea, tried it today and it works perfectly, my two cats were on it instantly, and Rufs which has more energy when it comes to getting the food :)
he has already figured it out. Puff will take more time but she will get there. Thx :)

Luckybubbles (author)LardaLot2015-05-19

I LOVE you the names of your cats! My cat is called bean

TY, Looks good, I see you changed it up a bit.

zanne101 (author)2009-10-15

This is great - my 2 cats wake me up in the middle of the night. Maybe now I can get a full night's sleep.

I only have one question.  Doesn't the rubber band break afterawhile?  I wonder if there is anything that could be used as a substitute.

Your cat is beautiful.

He did chew through one, that's why i put the wire leader on the band. Ihaven't had one break yet...but there $0.49 a bag.  You could try asmall bungee cord,  remove the bottom hook and tie a knot at the ball.

Or clothes elastic!

 I wasn't worried about replacing the rubber band ($.49/bag) - Iwas just thinking about what would happen if it broke, food all over thefloor.  I also don't want my stupid cat (one of mine is a littledopey) to swallow a broken rubber band if it came apart.
Thanks :-}

BluArcher (author)zanne1012010-04-04

I liked this feeder but we have 3 cats and they would go through 2 days of food in less than 1 day.  After a couple refills, they finally broke the rubber band by really yanking down on the ball.

I think I will try it again with a solid practice golf ball or something the cats can't grab with their claws.

Luckybubbles (author)BluArcher2015-05-19

Use textiles clothes elastic rather that rubber bands! That way your cats can still grab hold of the ball tho move it but they would be sturdier!

mightywombat (author)zanne1012009-10-15

When my cat started waking me up at night, I started feeding herbefore I went to bed.  That way, she would be able to sleep inwith me, but still get her snack on in the middle of the night.

Fanny Fink (author)2010-09-02

Looked brillant to me! Will try asap. thaks for your kind instructions... Greetings to Apollo :)

Thank You, Mines still working good. Apollo is getting to the point were he can drop the food right in his mouth, with very little falling on the floor.

I think I'm just going to use this for my own ease as well as the cats! I could attach it to the wall above our cat bowl and just pour it out easily evry. Morning! (I am a child and our cat food is stored really high up so its hard for me to get it!)

ILTK. (author)2014-10-23

Nice one!

I'm on a quest to have my 3 fatasses forage feed all their dry that they get in the daytime so they don't just sit in front of a food bowl and scarf it down.

I have a whole bunch of foraging/brain puzzle center type things but they can't hold much food each, so a larger version of this or maybe 2 will be perfect.

gene13 (author)2014-03-14

ingénieux !! ton chat est adorable

Canadient (author)2013-07-27

I found you can skip the plastic food container and use just a full 2-liter pop bottle with an opening at the top to add food. The bottom of the bottle is strong enough you can use a pencil instead of a pipe and the rubber-bands+pencil holds the bottom of the bottle where it should be. The option of a larger food container is perfect for those of us who free-feed our animals.

kayann (author)2009-10-18

Great idea!  I don't have a cat, but this same idea would work for a dog if it was built out of sturdier materials and larger. 

My dog is 10 yo and loves food related toys of any kind.  A younger dog would probably rip it apart, but I think something similar to this would work great for my old guy.  I will get to prototyping and post my results! 

AluraDankk (author)kayann2012-07-09

I've got an old Rott, But would you train the dog the same way you would the cat?

I don’t see why not… I hear that some dogs are almost as smart as a cat. (Just joking) food is a great motivator for my cat.

biker_trash_1340 (author)kayann2009-10-18

Sounds good, I was thinking of a 3-5 gal. water jug, tennis ball, bungee cord, and a trash can with a hinged lid....just need to find everything that will fit together. good luck and please post it... RR

tangol (author)2011-12-08

wow..this look nice and easy also cheap.. i would like to try it.. hope my cat understand how to get the food.. ^_^

creeperkeeper (author)tangol2012-05-13

mine two

manolodelpiero (author)2009-12-14

hi,...its grat idea, but how you paste it in this part of the cat entreteiner house?....what is holding the plastic cup? Thanx.

The clear cup is screwed into the tower/play house from the inside... if you are talking about the green bottle, it is threaded into the hole in the plastic cup, using the threads were the cap was.   Hope this helps

what part of the instruction would help me with the green bottle bit? i dont get it. It just seems loosely lodged into the hole in the bottom of the clear bottle.

unpro (author)four321zero2011-09-12

it looks like it does.

maybe can use less part/less cut if I start with a 1.5 liter soda bottle.

Overall, this is a great idea!!! Gonna build something like this, hang it up real high up the wall, so that my cats actually starts to climb and exercise to get food :D

CatTrampoline (author)2011-07-25

I made this for my cat last year so he could have between-meal snacks when he was out on the back porch. I knew he only had about a month left, so it did not matter if he ate extra & gained weight. It helped keep him happier during those last dark days. Thank you.

harif (author)2011-06-02

Wow Im so gonna try this! Great idea (Y)
Ps your cats the cutest thing everrrrr!

ushuaia (author)2010-10-15

This looks easy. I'll try it sometime. And btw, you have a really cute cat ^__^

biker_trash_1340 (author)ushuaia2010-10-15

Thank You, he's a lot of fun.

Tinworm (author)2010-09-28

brilliant idea!

royblumenthal (author)2009-10-19

 Very very cool instructable! Thanks!

One of the things I love most about it is that this style of feeding simulates the hunting process. 

The cat has to do something...

A piece of food falls down...

And the cat has to 'hunt' it.

How cool is that? Combining domesticity with the atavistic urge.

I'm going to be making one of these for our two cats. Spigot needs the exercise. And Magic is getting old, so the hunting instinct will sharpen him up. Awesome! Thanks!

Blue skies

davialyn (author)royblumenthal2010-07-18

Thanks for the new word! I will try to use "atavistic" today! I totally agree with encouraging the hunting instinct in domestic cats. One of the reasons why about 90% of cats are overweight is due to overfeeding. Using this feeder will appeal to their atavistic (see!) needs, and they will hopefully only eat until they are satisfied. Plus, the food will stay fresher longer than if it were just sitting out in an open bowl all day.

inventorio (author)2010-07-07

I made this about a week ago and it works great,unfortunately I am the one moving the ball and my cat just eats the food. I even tried holding her paw to move the ball but she still doesnt get it. Any other tips are welcome.

You could try to make the rubber band real loose, and put some moist cat food on the ball. That might help her get the hang of it.

four321zero (author)2010-03-14

i dont get it. Apart from gravity how does the cut green bottle stay down? Wont it get dislodged when the golf balls keeps hitting it?

OK ... Updated Step #3   2nd picture should help

Ah alright. Thank for your help. About to make one myself.

ubersquirel (author)2010-01-09

 This will be great to keep my cat entertained!

inquisitive (author)2009-12-06

 I so need to try cat Pickles (aka Death Wish in the mornings) might leave me alone-well a girl can dream...great idea and I was starting to contemplate a $50 automatic pet feeder, but this is way better.   I will add a catch dish though.

collinbentley (author)2009-12-02

 Awesome idea, man! I made this for my cats as a backup for when they run out of food in their dish and I'm not available to feed them for whatever reason.  I've had it installed for about 4 days and have already come home a few times to see pellets released underneath it.

Just an FYI to those of you that don't have those cylindrical containers laying around - I was able to make this using a large plastic cup ($.33 at dollar store) and the top of a Gatorade container.  I like the larger opening of the Gatorade container because it makes it a bit easier for them to get at the food (pellets fall by just a slight tap of the toy).

Doom2099 (author)2009-10-24

beautiful !
love your idea.

neivadan (author)Doom20992009-11-19

wow thats a great idea now i dont have to get jumped on by my dogs that often.

snootyvixen (author)2009-11-13

My 10 yr old daughter just made this for our cat Pucci. Now we are waiting to see if she'll use it!

mainerfreebird (author)2009-11-08

My cat, Marvin, is going to love this!( He is a tuxedo cat too),  he loves balls and he loves to eat, so he will figure this out in no-time. Thank you so much, this is wonderful, and I won't be accidently kicking the food bowl anymore, and Marvin wont go sliding into it when he runs into the kitchen to fetch his jingle ball! (Howza bout his water though...wait, he drinks out of the sinks and bathtub and toilet anyway.)

Shadowman39 (author)2009-10-26

Cool, I might use this. My cats would be batting the ball all day :-P. Good idea

By the way, your cat looks a lot like one of mine. His name is Shadow :-)

aseaheru (author)2009-10-22


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