Monday, April 11, 2011

It Pays to watch the Today Show: THE NEATER FEEDER!

   As you may have heard, I've wanted to a Neater Feeder for awhile, but just couldn't justify spending that kind of money (up to $66 if you need leg extenders for the Large size) on a product that I wasn't completely sure would standup to Cassie and her messy water-slopping ways!


 I think I should begin with some explanation:
  The Neater Feeder is a feeding station that simply suspends two metal bowls over a reservoir into which run off water is diverted.  The surface into which the bowls are inserted slopes gently toward a grate at the front that leads to the reservoir below. The reservoir is large enough to contain the contents of both bowls, but small enough to not make the feeder excessively tall.   The design is fairly simple, while the reservoir collects the spilled water, splashing and dripping are minimized by the tall walls at the front and sides and a neck-height lip at the front.  The body is made of a smooth but durable plastic and the bowls are your standard metal fare. The Neater Feeder comes in S, M, & L sizes and leg extenders can be purchased for taller dogs.  They even make a version for cats.

Bowl surface and grate

The Old Way
   Cassie's not a very messy eater, but she has a way of sloshing, dripping and slinging water that has to be seen to be believed...sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with her mouth that so much water ends up on the floor.  In addition to being a sloppy drinker she has a what I call her 'doggie beard' that always seems to end up in her water bowl and results in a Hansel-and-Gretel style trail of droplets.  I've tried many products in the past, from doggie placemats, to bowl stands/holders and nothing made the problem better.  In fact the placemat collected water underneath and after about a week's use I was left with a mat-shaped watermark on my hardwood.  For months we'd been making due with a Tuperware tub and Pyrex bowls, because this was the only way to give some bowl height, that was easy to clean and that had a lip to prevent some of the water run off.

Hardwood Damage
   Regardless of my attempts, my hardwood has progressively become more damaged, until I now have several boards that are actually splitting and pealing away at the edges.  I'm not a big fan of these manufactured floors (they were in the house when we moved in and have proved less than durable), but the water problem has done nothing but exacerbate the damage.

    Then as if the Dog gods had heard my anguished cries, I was sitting on the couch eating my breakfast, watching the Today Show and low-and-behold the weekly 'Jill's Steals & Deals' segment featured the Neater Feeder.  When I heard that I could purchase any sized Neater Feeder for $15, I nearly spilled my coffee in the race to the computer.  After checking out the details and trying in vain several times to get through to, I decided I should make sure you all knew about it too!  Then for the next 30 min I repeated the process of getting through until my order had been successfully sent!  In total, I spent $24 for a large-sized Neater Feeder (including shipping and handling)!

  A couple weeks later and the Neater Feeder has arrived!   Since that moment not a single drop of water has hit our floors.  I'm at a loss to say much other than that it works perfectly!  Even Cassie's beard dripping has ceased.  What had kept me from rushing out to purchase this product in the past (besides the price) were these thoughts:

 1) With the Neater Feeder being made of plastic will Cassie just start chewing on the corners? This happened to the placemat on several occasions and ended with Cassie upsetting entire bowls of water on the floor!
 2) What size should I order?? The size recommendations suggested the Large, but that sounded so big for a medium sized dog.
 3) Will this be just another clunky thing taking up room in my house...along with the collections of mats and bowls??
 4) Will Cassie like drinking out of it? The tall walls made me worry she might be wary of sticking her head in to get a drink.
 5) Will it actually work for all the water dripping or just prevent big spills?? I really doubted the beard trails would ever be preventable.

The Good Things About The Neater Feeder:

   It does exactly what it says it will do, nothing more, nothing less!  From the moment I ripped it out of the box and set it up next to the old Tuperware tub Cassie showed not the slightest hesitation about eating and drinking out of it.  In the past she has been grumpy about using metal bowls and so I've used pyrex instead, but with these she seems to have gotten past that phase.  She's also not so much as nibbled on the edges, so either she doesn't see it as something worth chewing or she's just biding her time. Though it's big for a feeder, it's almost exactly the same size as our Tuperware tub and is much more attractive.
   Most importantly, it works!  I've left it out for days and my floor is completely free of water marks.  I've given it some swift kicks, sending water cascading out of the bowls like Old Faithful and its all swirled down the drain and into the reservoir, marring neither the floors nor the walls.  Even the beard trails, which I thought were a just fact of life with a long haired dog, have disappeared!  We have a miracle!

Facts That Are Going to Take Some Getting Used To:

  When I bought the Neater Feeder I knew I was going to loose the one big advantage of my Tuperware tub: the fact that I had an all-in-one kibble storage/serving device.  The Neater Feeder is not a storage/feeding device and it's not an automated feeder.  It's a mess-free feeding product, plain and simple!  That isn't so terrible.  I'm just going to have to find a more attractive way of hiding the dog food, while keeping it tolerably accessible.

The Only Real Area For Improvement:

  All that said, I do have one small quibble you should be aware of before ordering your own Neater Feeder (besides the fact that you can no longer pick one up on the cheap like I did):  the sizing recommendations can be confusing.  As I mentioned, the Neater Feeder comes in three sizes (S, M, L) and you can buy extenders for taller dogs.  However, strangely the size-recommendations the company provides are all figured by the weight of the dog with a minimum height, instead of a range for both.  For instance, they suggest that the Large suits a 35-100+ dog with a 15-20" shoulder height.   But what if your dog doesn't fall into those ranges?

  I know at least one of you got in on the deal with me, because Elizabeth over at The Chronicles of Cardigan blogged about it last week and noted this sizing conundrum.  Unlike Cassie, who the size recommendation ended up working out for fairly well (though I was nervous), Elizabeth's Cardigans are...well let's just say atypically-shaped breed.  They are shorter than you would expect them to be for their weight.  This is true of several breeds (standard Corgis, Bulldogs, etc) basically any dog that is longer than it is tall I think will result in some size confusion with the Neater Feeder.

  A simple solution is for the company to develop a weight-height comparison chart and suggest sizes for the various ranges (a bit like sizing pantyhose).  Better still would be a generalized breed appropriate size suggestion list like those commonly found with other products such as head halters, harnesses and some toys and chews.  I think this update would make customers more confident that they're purchasing the right size for their dogs.  I always think more information is generally better than less.

For your immediate assistance I've provided a photo of a recognizable dog standing next to a Large size without leg extenders:

Overall, I love the new Neater Feeder!  It's fit into my home with such immediate satisfaction that I can't help but be a little smug each time I pass it!  If you have a messy eater/drinker whose destroying your hardwood like mine was, I would dare say it's worth the investment!  I shudder to think what replacing this hardwood is going to cost when we go to sell!

 [I'll upload some video as soon as I can get the Cassie Dog to cooperate!]


  1. Wow...thanks for the review. We have a Weimaraner and she drools everywhere as well.

  2. Cassie definitely looks more size-appropriate for the large than my cardis. Glad it's working for you! Mine is saving my floors and even as short as they are, my boys are managing to drink down to the last drop. (My cat even gets on the feeder and drinks out of it.) Thanks again for leading me to it!

  3. We may have to try that. Monty is a big time splasher - he has even been known to walk away from the water with a mouthful and then open his mouth a few feet away. Needless to say, we've had a couple of sensational slippilng accidents. Our current fix is a large 6x8 lined carpet - but it gets gross after a while. Thank you for the heads up!


  4. Sam, Cassie does the same thing! I think its some kind of crazy dog game trying to make me cry! My poor floors! We started with a carpet too...sadly the Wassie Cass liked chewing on the rug as much as she did the plastic placemat...I guess I'll never learn! But at least the Neater Feeder seems to have solved part of the problem for me!