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  • Cat Food Machine

    Listen, I know some of you guys have pets in the shop. I do too- Mogwai the Shop Cat. She lives there. That's great, no prob there. But when I go away for a day or two, feeding becomes a problem. If I stack up food in the bowl, it just goes bad and stinks, or gets raided by the neighbors cat. And, no matter how many times I explain or how many diagrams I draw, she just can't grasp The Can Opener Principle.

    Always the same when I come home: PO'd cat, no work done.

    So, I need to make some kind of cat food dispensing machine. Maybe timer-controlled, so she knows when to be home for dinner. Don't quite know how to do this though...Dry fodder is maybe okay. Can opener much more difficult. Should I check like farm & livestock suppliers? Anybody else think about this? Maybe some kind of scoop on a conveyor belt, to a twice-daily revolution motor? Maybe glue electrical connections to the hands on a clock, to control motor??

    Anyone?

  • #2
    I saw a swiss clock gear mechaism idea for this. Is that what you have in mind?

    gear reduction - synchronous stepper... etc....

    I would think there would already be out there on specialty sites..... You can always machine one, or buy stock plastic one... I opt for plastic....

    -- jerry
    dvideo

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    • #3
      My shop cats- '98 Mouser and Argentine Mouser- are self-feeding. If I don't fill the bowl, they gnaw through the side of the bag and eat the kibble off the floor.

      Not usually a problem though- I'm in the shop seven days a week.

      Doc.
      Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

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      • #4
        Dr.Rob,
        I don't know where you live but up here in northern Ontario, Canada, we have timers to start and stop the block heaters on our vehicals. The one that I have can be set to go on and off from half hour intervals and up. Maybe in combination with a stepper motor you could rig something up.

        Another idea might be to have a pressure sensitive pad where the cat sits when he eats that would dispence one portion of food each time he stands at the feeder.
        To invent, you need a good imagination - and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison

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        • #5
          Some of these are great ideas. Thanks. I like the pressure-pad one. Seems almost simple enough for both me and the cat to figure out...neither of us are any good at electronics.

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          • #6
            Sounds like Mogwai doesn't eat dry food. If he, she, it did you can get cat food containers that automaticly dispense food as the cat eats. There is also that one dispenses water. They hold enough to last about a week, and are quite cheap.

            ------------------
            Paul G.
            Paul G.

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            • #7
              Did a fish feeder controller for a professional fish operation. Owner wanted to have the food "slung" out for less than a minute every so many hours. Bought a timer with pegs for setting times. smallest increment was every 15 muniutes (or maybe thirty minutes). Solution was to use the timer to operate a self re-setting time delay relay. The time delay relay would come one for adjustable time from something like a second to 30 seconds.

              So when the "master timer" was satisfied, the time delay was energized for fifteen minute or so, this fed power to the time delay relay which came on for the adjustable amount of time. The feed hopper was above a wheel that threw the fish food in a large circle. The circuit was very simple. Maybe two feet of wire to conect the timer and relay. If I were feeding cats, I think I would dispense with the slinger wheel. The fish could hear the relays and motor before the chow was on the lake. They came from all parts of the farm. These were catfish which are known to be like engineers, so Woman who owned the pond (a chemist) was very impressed with the intelligence of her cat fish.
              Steve
              PS: for those who know cat fish and no engineers- cat fish is all mouth and no brains (per the lady chemist)

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              • #8
                Dr. Rob:
                Female cats require hard and soft food to insure proper urinary tract operation, Our cats are fed at 6:00AM/PM (twice per day). tHis insures that they do not pig out all day long - my cat Tigger was abused and left alone without company or food & water for sometimes a week by the bitch that used to own her (ex-GF). It has taken 6 years and Tigger is almost a normally adjusted cat, but will still hoover the food dishes if given a chance till she barfs. We buy the best cat food available for adult wieght control and the dry food is dental care formula (my bud's cat has cost him $1500+ for dental work). They eat better than I do - and damn it, that soft food smells like good pate...

                I vote you get a cat sitter - either have a friend stop by and feed the puddy cat or leave the furball with a friend while you are gone. Safer for your cat's health. I would not do any less for any member of my family.

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                • #9
                  Oh yeah, totally, Thrud. That cat has been my friend and business advisor for many years. Nothing but the best for her. I do have a bud come by and give her TLC when I'm gone for longer periods. I stopped leaving her with friends, since it dawned on me that it wasn't really fair, just dumping her someplace foreign. She lives in the shop; has done so for years. Comes & goes as she pleases, and has more friends in the neighborhood than I do. It's just the one or two-day weekends that need a setup.

                  So I gave her the number to Dominos...

                  And soft cat food does NOT smell like pate. NOT, NOT, NOT at all. Oh yuck, man, just thinking about it- how can she eat that ****e?

                  Paul, that's gotta be the easiest. A gravity machine. Gravity hasn't failed yet.

                  This is becoming a fun thread.

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                  • #10
                    Dr Rob:

                    I will second the dry food and feeder thing. There are some timed dry food dispensers, less trouble to buy than build.

                    I have large cats at 16 and 21 lb. I am about ready to get a timed dispenser just to slim down the fat ones.

                    I sure hope your shop cat is a short hair. Bubba the shop beastie is a longhair, and he likes to be around me, which is also where the chips are. I keep a comb around............

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                    • #11
                      This is overly complex so procede at your own risk.I've got cat hair all over the place with even more dog hair.As for the auto feeder thing,what comes to my mind is something like a ice cube dispencer in the freezer.Food stays cool(you'd have to refrigerate it not freeze it),auger on a timer to dole it out by the pressure sensor or at a set time.This was the simpler of my ideas for canned food.The other one involved a cnc mill to open the cans and a robotic arm to fork it out onto a plate that would be removed to a sink full of water after kitty is done.At least it gave me something to daydream about whilst working on the more mundane stuff.Might be fun to watch the machine and cat interact too!Robert.

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                      • #12
                        I had a man come to me for an electronic means of feeding his cat. Set him up with a timer, beyond that I don't know how he made out. His plan was to rotate a cylinder at the bottom of a housing. The cylinder had an opening on two sides, and a barrier in the middle. As it rotated, one chanber would dump into the bowl, while the other came around to be refilled by gravity. Assuming it worked, an equal ammount of food would be dispensed each time the cylinder rotated 180 deg.
                        The touch pad idea gave me a chuckle. I built a door for the cat to get in and out of the house, and controlled the door with a motor, microswitches, and touch pads. I tried for weeks to get the cat to step on the touch pads. Damn thing would avoid touching the pads at all cost, and it became a pro wrestler when I tried to use it's own paw to touch the pads. The neighbor's cat would have to come over, touch the outside pad, and my cat could then get out. Of course, the neighbor's cat could get in also, so there went the food. Now I have no cat, but a neat little door that the mailman uses to throw small packages through.
                        I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                        • #13
                          This is a cat story. Max the cat lived in our local rental shop for years. In all the years we would see him sitting on the counter or in the window. The owner Don even had a donation can for him marked, Max's retirement fund sitting on the counter. Myself and I'm sure others placed many a penny, nickel, dime, and quarter into that slotted can. One day after many years of doing this I asked were Max was. The answer was, "he died about 5 years ago". Don said I was the first to ever ask about Max. So you still keep the can on the counter anyway. Sure Don said "how else do you think I keep booze in my fridge". "Max never lived long enough to retire so he didn't need the money".

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                          • #14
                            We have lots of critters at my house/shop, but thank God no cats (sorry don't care for cats). 3 Dogs, 4 Ferrets, Guinea Pig, Fish, Turtle, Bearded dragon, and thousands of crickets to feed the bearded dragon. Thank God the Bird went to the aviary in the sky last year. Costs more to feed the lizzard than the three dogs. Feeding is a huge consideration when we decide to leave even for the day. I Feel your Pain!

                            With that said, there is a posting on the Parallax website www.parallax.com for a doggie door controlled by a basic stamp. Has a circuit for a proximity sensor. Seems like this setup could be adapted for use with a timer and a home brewed motorized mechanism to dispense cat food. How bout a mechanism like what feeds pellets into a pellet stove furnace?

                            Matt

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                            • #15
                              Gizmos are fine for lots of things but not for the care of a pet. Too much can go wrong and it usually does. Sometimes it results in the suffering or death of a pet. Be sure and have someone check on the critter once in awhile while you are gone or work a deal with a friend or neighbor. Even cats need the interaction (although they don't act like it.) I prefer dogs also. So I think it is fine to have an automatic feeder or better, to have a feed dispenser, but I also think you should have someone make sure that the thing hasn't clogged or jambed or the power hasn't failed or the circuit breaker tripped. So many things can go wrong that can't be undone.
                              Spence

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