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Meredith Holt, Published April 11 2012

Thursday review: Neater Feeder cuts down on pet messes

Online: www.neaterfeeder.com

Where to get it: The Neater Feeder is available online or at the Natural Pet Center or Petco in Fargo.

FARGO – Kibble kickball is a favorite feline pastime in my household.

My 5-year-old male cat, Cage, drags pieces of dry food out of his dish and bats them around the linoleum, where they inevitably end up under the fridge.

Cage plays with his water, too. He paws at it, tips it and spills it. Oh, and there’s always a kibble or two floating in it.

I think my 5-year-old female cat, Oni, tries to be more lady-like, but she’s prone to accidental spills and splashes.

Enter the Neater Feeder, which promises to “take the mess out of mealtime.”

The award-winning pet feeder traps spilled food in the upper reservoir and holds spilled water in the lower reservoir, keeping them separate. Plus the protective walls contain splashes.

The corners are rounded for easy cleaning, and you can throw the whole thing in the dishwasher.

The Neater Feeder is available in four sizes: “cat,” small, medium and large. An online size chart helps determine which to get for your pet.

I tried the cat-sized feeder with a cranberry-red top, which came with stainless-steel bowls in two different sizes.

The cat size retails for $34.99 without leg extensions and $37.98 with; the large costs $59.99 without and $65.98 with.

You can purchase extra bowls, leg extensions and rubber inserts from the company’s website.

The company says the elevated pet dishes aid digestion and reduce neck strain, but I don’t know how much Cage and Oni care about that.

Cats seem to like to be really close to their dishes when they eat and drink rather than stand up straight, though an elevated feeder might be a good idea for an arthritic cat.

I’d been using an iron “double diner” with stainless-steel bowls for Cage and shallow ceramic dishes for Oni.

Though the stand held the bowls in place, it didn’t prevent Cage from sliding it across the floor and knocking it over, so I was happy to see the Neater Feeder came with rubber inserts to keep it in place.

The pads also prevent scratches and dents to floor surfaces, the company says.

The Neater Feeder is pretty sturdy, so I don’t think Cage could knock it over unless he body-slams it, which I wouldn’t put past him, actually.

When I finished assembling the feeder (which was easy), both cats approached it with caution.

Then Cage rubbed his cheeks on it like he does anything new I bring home, and Oni crouched near her empty ceramic dishes, looking at me forlornly.

I guess if I continue to use the Neater Feeder, I should get a second one. (Who can blame her for not wanting to share with her bratty brother?)

After they finished checking it out, my curious critters turned their attention to the discarded packaging it came in and moved on to licking the plastic and biting the cardboard.

I know they used it, because sure enough, the next morning there was spilled food in the upper tray and a little water in the lower, but Oni still seemed upset with me for taking away her goldfish-decorated dishes.

Bottom line: I think it’s great, but my kitty companions aren’t so sure.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590