Could a new gadget for cats mean that our furry friends no longer have any need for their staff - sorry, owners - at all?

That is the terrifying prospect raised by a new cat feeding machine which takes humans out of the equation.

Inventors of the device in Taiwan have sent round their electronic begging bowl and racked up more than $25,000 in funding from crowdsourcing sites.

If their appeal for cash is successful then it will mean cats can get food at home whenever they want, with no need for a human being to bring it to them.

Whatever will they use us for, then?

How the device works is that the feline sticks their head in to a clear box which has a dry food container attached to it.

Advanced facial recognition technology then verifies the identity of the cat, which triggers the release of food on a tray beneath the cat's nose.

Cat lovers everywhere habour a secret dread that their beloved fur ball is only using them for food. This device will do little to quell such fears.

But another feature of the product is that it can tell owners when their cat is off its food by reporting activity to smartphone.

Perhaps they do need us, after all.