It seems these days we are trying to make everything as convenient and fast as possible. With micro-waved food, instant messaging, meal replacement drinks, etc. we are trying to create more time in our lives for other things and that goes for how we care for our pets as well. But at what price?
I see clients who use automatic feeders, automatic water fountains, automatic litter boxes and there are even battery -operated toys for pets that will amuse them so we can do something else. As a pet sitter, I think this is not such a good idea.
I have seen automatic feeders break down and the food is not released allowing the animals to go hungry. With automatic water fountains, although the pets like the fresh water, the bowls the water empties into are often not cleaned very often and the pet is drinking from a dirty bowl. Although the automatic self-clean litter boxes may work reasonably well, they are still not a good idea.
Let me explain. As a pet owner and sitter, we get information on the animal's well-being by seeing how much food and water they are consuming. I also like to see urine output for cats when their owners are away. If I have a few cats I am caring for, and one of them is a hider, I have no idea how he is doing if I can't tell if he is eating or using the litter box etc. which is what happens with automatic feeders, fountains and litter boxes.
Also, a lot of people are under the mistaken impression that if they have automatic equipment for their pets, they do not need anyone to come and check on them. That goes for dogs as well as cats if the dogs have a doggie door- automatic way to go outdoors to go potty. Clearly, this is not a good idea. Our pets are generally very social and need interaction with us humans on an ongoing basis. As responsible pet parents, we need to monitor how much our "furry kids" are eating, drinking and what their output is, to ensure they are in good health.
This is one area where I say, get rid of the automatic stuff and give each pet a regular water bowl, an ordinary food bowl, and a litter box that needs to be cleaned by a person.