I was joking with my cat – until I bought an automatic feeder

Cats are the ultimate pet for me.

I’ve always loved their unique blend of affection and apathy, and I truly love the ones I’ve cared for.

But one thing I’ve discovered I really don’t love is being hassled for food on job interviews or at night!

My relationship with my beloved rescue cat, a Turkish Angora named Ghost, was put under severe strain during the lockdown, but things were saved by an unlikely source: an automatic bird feeder.

When my roommate and I moved into our first house a decade ago, a pregnant stray moved in, gave birth to three kittens on our couch during Game of Thrones, and we’ve had rescue cats ever since.

Ghost’s manner is almost dog-like (Image: Jen Sizeland)

I started fostering cats through Chorlton Cats charity in my local area during the first lockdown when the house felt empty while working from home without an animal living in it.

After discovering I was pregnant, we decided to move, making Ghost our last foster cat, as we adopted him.

His demeanor was almost dog-like in his affection and love for people, which is typical of a Turkish Angora.

It is a naturally gregarious breed that enjoys socializing with people, which was perfect for us as we needed a child-friendly pet for the baby.

While on the street he had about 10 people from his estate feeding him and this habit meant he was constantly consumed with where his next meal was coming from.

But when it came to living at home, it was difficult to adjust to a regular schedule.

From about two hours before the meal, he followed me around the house and meowed loudly.

He interrupted Zoom calls with his bushy tail, howled into the portable microphone, tried to jump out of windows to find another household to feed him and even tried to wake me up in the middle of the night for an extra meal.

As I worked from home, he associated me much more strongly with food, but Ghost would also pester my partner if he went near the kitchen where we kept the cat biscuits.

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We kept him on a strict diet as he had problems with his teeth, weight and a dull coat due to poor nutrition – we couldn’t give him any snacks or let him out until his problems were under control so he drove us crazy. Meanwhile.

I felt terrible during my pregnancy with morning sickness and crippling headaches, so I needed as much rest as I could get during that exhausting time.

I was working three jobs – something that was only achievable with good sleep, and Ghost stopped it every night.

To stop the interruptions in work and rest time, I had to lock him in the kitchen when my partner was not available. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I didn’t have much of a choice if I wanted to pay my mortgage.

Understandably, Ghost didn’t like this and reacted by walking around the room scratching at the door and occasionally knocking things off the shelves.

It was my boyfriend who had the idea to buy the automatic feeder, because he had had a low-tech egg timer version of an automatic feeder for his cat as a child.

After doing some research, he saw how much better they were now with smarter technology, especially since they can be fully controlled by your phone.

When the feeder arrived, it didn’t look particularly exciting. It was just a white plastic container with a tray in the bottom, but I downloaded the app to try it anyway.

A white cat in front of a circular mirror showing his reflection

These days, Ghost is anxiety-free (Image: Jen Sizeland)

The dry food goes into the space at the top of the feeder with a mechanism that turns so that a small portion or two can fall into the tray below.

In the app, I program the times that I want the food to drop, or it can be dropped manually by pressing a button.

Since Ghost loves to eat, it helps that the portions are small as they can be spread throughout the day, giving him the relentless eating routine he clearly craves!

If I’m gone for a few hours, I no longer have to worry about making sure he gets his food.

It’s such a great setup that we bought my mother-in-law the exact same model for an older cat she recently inherited.

Since she is semi-retired and lives alone, it gives her the freedom to go out for half a day without having to worry about her pet.

Nowadays, Ghost always knows when he’s going to be fed and doesn’t have the same anxieties he had when he was a street cat, and I don’t have the anxiety I had when he was causing trouble.

The feeder has given me back my friendly pet as he comes to me for affection instead of just food.

Technology has turned his and our relationship from nightmare lodges to dream homes – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


The technique I can’t live without

Welcome to The Tech I Can’t Live Without, Metro.co.uk’s new weekly series where readers share the bits and pieces that have proven indispensable to them.

From gadgets to software, apps to websites, you’ll read about all kinds of innovations that people really trust. If you have a piece of technology you can’t live without, email Ross.McCafferty@metro.co.uk to take part in the series

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