Automating Petsafe Cat Feeders with Home Assistant and ESPHome

Problem statement: We had two cats. One, a grade A chonk who would happily finish off 2 portions of food if the other is outdoors. And if she was indoors, the difference in the clocks meant he had about 30 seconds eating from one feeder before the second feeder opened, after which he’d barge past his sister and get about 1.5 meals.

But if the feeders were smart, we could

  1. have synced time between time.
  2. Only open when both cats were “home” according to our smart catflap.
  3. Have the option of feeding them remotely, if we were out unexpectedly late

I’ve not found a cat feeder which supports local control. Sure Petcare aren’t getting any more money after shenanigans blocking the home assistant intergration → surepetcare integration is not working anymore · Issue #93814 · home-assistant/core · GitHub

I did, however, have a Petsafe 5 Meal Pet Feeder

Upon opening the units (just unscrew), I found that one circuit board was responsible for the timer, one for advancing the trays.

A little tinkering with the circuit board, and I found that output 2 gets pulled to ground when the timer. Shorting the circuit with a wire performed the same action. And the cavity has loads of space for an additional board.

I added an ESP8266 and a cheap relay, because without fully understanding a circuit, a relay is just easier. I soldered the relay outputs onto ground and output 2, using the normally closed part of the relay.

I routed the USB cable to allow for a reasonable amount of strain relief

I also added a button to indicate that the feeders had been refilled, allowing for me to keep count of portions remaining, and send me a reminder when they’re empty.

  device_name: cat_feeder_1

  name: ${device_name}
  platform: ESP8266
  board: d1_mini

  ssid: "SSID"
  password: "ABC123"


  # Enable fallback hotspot (captive portal) in case wifi connection fails
    ssid: ${device_name} FB HS
    password: "ABC123"


# Enable logging

# Enable Home Assistant API
    key: "abc123"

  password: password

  - platform: template
    name: ${device_name}_advance
    icon: "mdi:food-turkey"
    id: advance_button
        - switch.turn_on: relay_1
        - delay: 0.5s
        - switch.turn_off: relay_1

  - platform: gpio
    name: ${device_name}_switch
    internal: true
    pin: D1
    id: relay_1
    restore_mode: restore_default_off

  - platform: gpio
     number: D8
        input: true
        pullup: true
    id: counter
    name: ${device_name}_counter_reset
      - delayed_on: 500ms

And, we’re done. Smart, Local cat feeders for about £8 per device.


We had a chonker who binged and an another who was a grazer. I ended up getting a small dog cage and putting a cat door in it. The grazer got a collar to unlock the door, and we put a week or two of food in it for her. The chonker got fed a little bit multiple times a day with a feeder that dumped food whenever power was applied. It came with a little garden timer, but swapping that for an ESP based smart outlet let me run the schedule via home assistant by turning the power on, waiting 2 minutes, then turning it off.

Amazingly, even though we first bought this thing 14 years ago, it’s still available (not an affiliate link - just providing it in case someone is super curious):

I love the idea of a simple mains powered feeder which lets you do what you like from there. I did have a look at this style of autofeeder, but it can be hard to judge if it’s up to the challenge of a food motivated cat - our chonk had a habit of running at tower autofeeders to knock them down. Hence I was delighted that a cheap and relatively easy hack allowed for automation of feeders which we knew were Peterproof.

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