Dishing Up Dinner: Choosing The Best Bowls For Your Cat's Health

Posted on: 4 July 2016


If you have never given much thought to your cat's food and water bowls, you may want to start. The material, size, shape and type of dish can make a difference when it comes to her health, comfort and contentment.

Paper or Plastic? Material Does Matter

The material from which your cat's food bowls are made can have effect her skin. Plastic pet bowls are popular. They are inexpensive and come in a rainbow of color choices to coordinate nicely with your cat's luxurious coat and match her other belongings. However, plastic bowls have been implicated in contributing to feline acne because the grooves and scratches in plastic make for an ideal breeding haven for bacteria. You will know if your feline friend has been stricken with kitty zits as a result of eating from plastic dishware if you observe the following signs:

  • The breakout occurs on her chin, which is the area that rubs against the bowl as she eats.
  • The acne appears as solid little bumps, and the bumps can become filled with pus and ooze.
  • Hair loss may occur on the affected area until the acne has been resolved.

If you suspect that your cat has feline acne, pursue treatment from your veterinarian or a clinic like Veterinary Emergency Services Of Lincoln in order to prevent infection, and swap out her plastic bowls for paper plates to see if the acne remains cleared up long after her treatment has been completed. This will confirm that the plastic bowl was the culprit, and you won't even have to wash any dishes during the paper trial. Simply toss the used paper plate into the trash after each meal.

Once you have determined that your cat's pimple troubles resulted from dining out of plastic bowls, you may prefer to purchase new food bowls of an alternative material. Stainless steel, heavy glass or ceramic are all safe choices.

Whiskers Don't Want Bumpers

The circumference and depth of the dishes are important considerations when selecting your cat's bowls. Your cat's whiskers, also called vibrissae, are extremely sensitive to touch, particularly at the ends of the whiskers where proprioceptors act as neurotransmitters. When the proprioceptors make contact with anything in the environment, messages are transmitted to your cat's brain. These messages include space perception and aid a cat in navigating through many of her activities. For this reason, if a cat eats from a bowl that is not wider than the full spread of her whiskers, she will be overwhelmed and annoyed by sensory overload as her whiskers keep being pushed into contact with the sides of the bowl. This phenomenon, known as whisker stress, also occurs if the bowl is so deep that she has to lower her head into the bowl to reach the food. Some signs of whisker stress include the following:

  • Your cat pulling her food out of the bowls with her paws before she consumes it off of the floor where her paw deposited it.
  • Your cat scoops water out of her bowl with her paw, from which she proceeds to lick it.
  • You notice a hole in the center of her food, while the food around the edges of the bowl remains untouched.
  • Your cat never consumes all of her food, and she demands more food once only the topmost layer of food has been eaten.

When shopping for your cat's dishware, choose bowls that are very wide in circumference as well as shallow to keep her and her whiskers content.

Happiness While Hydrating

When it comes to voluntarily drinking enough water, many cats tend to fall short. Their feline ancestors originated in desert climates, and most of their moisture consumption came from their prey. Proper hydration is essential for your cat's overall health, and it is especially important in maintaining her kidney function, which eventually starts to decrease with age-related wear and tear. You can entice your cat to belly up to the bowl by serving her water in a drinking fountain for cats. These fountains contain pumps that constantly circulate the water, and many of them have filtration systems. Cats are drawn to investigate the bubbling sounds, they enjoy watching the ripples of the circulating water, and they are fascinated by the flowing fountain or stream that most of these drinking vessels include. Curiosity prevails as they tentatively lick the falling water or dip a paw into the bowl, and drinking inevitably follows.

Cleanliness Counts

No matter which bowls your cat prefers, it is imperative to wash them thoroughly each day to prevent the thin, slimy films of bacteria that can accumulate in the bottom of the dishes. Wash the bowls in the same manner as you wash your own dishes. If you wash dishes by hand, be sure to thoroughly rinse out all traces of soap. Consider buying two of each bowl so that you can rotate from one day to the next between the dishwasher and her feeding area. Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions when setting up your cat's water fountain, as there may be multiple parts that require cleaning and may not be dishwasher-safe. You may also need to change the filter periodically as part of the fountain's maintenance.

By keeping the aforementioned tips in mind the next time you engage in a pet supply shopping spree for your feline friend, you will be contributing to her better health and happiness with every future meal that she savors.