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    Petmate 24230 Le Bistro Electronic Portion-Control Automatic Pet Feeder [15]

    Product Reviews   
    We have cats. We have cats with kitty eating disorders. Our cats would easily eat anything not covered and locked. We had one particularly clever cat that could open doors and cupboards. He even made a regular habit of working on the refrigerator door. To help control their weight and keep the litter box smell manageable, we feed our cats dry food and only a measured serving a day. This is fine, but cats do not set much store by the rules for sleep. We have to work during the day while they get to sleep. Even with strictly scheduled feeding times, they tried to pressure us by meowing and begging about an hour before feeding time. The begging was particularly intense if we should enter the room where their food was kept. We had one cat that even did what I would best label “the food dance” by spinning in circles and rolling around on the floor.

    When you have a problem with overweight cats and measured portions of dry food are required, an automatic feeder really does a great job. We have gone through a couple different types. One was a type where the timer opened the lid. The cats found a way to beat the crap out of it to get the lid open. We finally found the Le Bistro Petmate feeder at Petco. It is not cheap at $50-70 retail. But there is nothing else really like it for desperate cat owners like us.

    There are several plusses:
    + The cats maintain a healthy weight. We serve 2 meals a day of 1/2 cup Prescription Diet C/D food. Small round light pellets probably work best. Obviously if your cat eats wet food, this feeder is not a good idea.

    + The cats do not beg for food so much. Now that the feeder is in the laundry room, they do not meow in the kitchen. There are a few small meows when the can opener runs, which is strange because none of them have ever eaten canned cat food, but no more REARRING, which is very annoying.

    + Cats can tell time. They leave the bedroom at 4:30 am silently to stand by the food dish for the 6:00 AM feeding. They no longer wake us up! They can also hear the motor starting while located anywhere in the house. They take off so fast that the rugs on the floor are moved as they try to gain traction.

    + It holds a lot of food. The batteries last for months, because the motor just runs briefly to scoop out the portions. Because it is battery powered, you can leave it unattended for a long time and not worry about power outages. It is best used in combination with a water jug type dispenser unless your cats are adept at drinking out of the toilet.

    + It is made of tough plastic. The cats have not tried to tip it over, but they have tried to work the lid off. They have not been successful, yet.

    Here are the minuses

    - The feeder will break down if you do not change the batteries before they get low. Petmate sent us a new replacement free of charge under the 1-year warranty. However when that unit crapped out after eight months, we were already 4 months out of warranty. We are actually contemplating buying another anyway. At a cost of $10 a month we REALLY enjoy our sleep.

    - The programming interface stinks. There is no reason why it should be so complicated to program. I was reminded of a robot project built by a friend. With the robot, you bootstrapped machine code into the Z80 processor using front panel switches, kind of like the first computers. This user interface is 40 years behind the times. You set the clock, then set the meal times, then the meal sizes. There are only three buttons, but the combinations to program and switch are not intuitive. And if you get it wrong you have to start from the beginning. When you change batteries, it does not retain the settings.

    - The cats soon figure out how to sneak food out of the dispenser chute. By pushing their paw up, the flexible plastic “fingers” move allowing a stray piece from the next meal to sneak out. In the end they only get their allotted amount. But the mechanism needs to be a little sturdier to prevent between meal snacks.

    - The cats decide you are not the source of food, and are somewhat less affectionate and more independent. But they know who cleans the litter box.


    The service department at Petmate says they are discontinuing this unit. It is still currently on their web site.

    Amazon is dumping them off quickly and the pet stores have taken them off the shelves. But the concept is exactly what we needed to get better sleep and not turn into zombie slaves of our pets. Petmate says that a newer better design built by them will be coming out at the end of 2007. Sign me up! {BB}

    Npvember 2007 Update
    Petmate has a newer Portion Control Feeder in their LeBistro line. They now come in multiple sizes. We will check them out.

    Added: April 6th 2007
    Reviewer: BB
    Score: 15    [15]

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