Cat Dish vs. Bowl

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  1. Is your cat a picky eater? Food might not be the reason.

    Cats use their whiskers to navigate their environment by measuring the width of openings to determine if it’s wide enough to pass through. This is especially helpful at night.

    In addition, cats in the wild are constantly aware of what's going on around them in order to detect rivals or predators. And when cats eat, they tend to crouch. This posture brings their head closer to their eating surface – usually a flat rock, fallen tree or ground.

    If your current bowl has tall, straight sides or is more square than round, you may notice an air of discontent at feeding time. The reasons? Experts note you’ll see hesitation, even pacing around the bowl over the discomfort of whisker stress – an annoying sensation that’s caused when the whiskers rub up against the sides of the bowl.

    You might also observe nervousness caused by an inability to see who’s approaching. Or the frustration brought on by not being able to extract food that’s stuck in the crannies of the bowl where the base and the walls meet.

    If you find more mess than usual around your feeding location or food left behind are other signs that something may be off.

    Knowing these principles apply to feeding and water alike, here’s how you can put all of it to rest.   

  2. Current State

    First off, observe your cat while she’s eating. Look for signs of nervousness or hesitation described in the background. Is each serving eaten in its entirety, or does your cat leave before finishing?

    Next, look at the bowl or dish you’re using. If you’re currently using one that has steep sides, it may be time for a change.

    To Complete This Step

    Describe your cat’s behavior while eating as well as the current feeding bowl. Are the sides steep? Does your cat's whiskers hit the sides when taking a bite? Does your cat seem rushed? Take a picture of your cat eating from the current bowl and upload it with your notes to your Journal. If you answered yes to any of these questions, proceed to the next step.

  3. Short & Wide

    If you’re leaning dish, look for one that is mostly flat. It’s sides should be short as to not impede the whiskers, but still tall enough to keep kibble (or water) from spilling over. 

    Next, check that it is wide enough to handle a day's worth of food and gives enough space to drag some kibble away from the pile to be eaten individually. A standard American dinner plate is ideal. Just know that food tends to slide too easily over smooth porcelain, making it more difficult for your cat to eat.

    Tip: If you have more than one cat, make sure each has their own dish.

    To Complete This Step

    Pick a new style of dish or plate that meets these criteria. If you’ve tried a wider dish or plate, does your cat seem more content since you made the change? Is your cat eating more in one sitting? Is there less mess? Or is your cat sharing with housemates if you have more than one cat? Make note of your experience and snap a picture of your cat eating from the new vessel.

  4. Elevation is Nice

    Others are designed especially for cats and have feet that elevate the eating surface slightly off the ground and closer to your cat's mouth.

    To Complete This Step

    Have you tried an elevated dish? Did you buy one from the store or improvise with something you already had on hand? Upload an image and describe any differences in the way your cat eats from it.

  5. Cleanup

    Whichever style you choose, be sure to wash your cat's dish regularly. If serving wet food, be sure to wash the dish after every meal – daily when serving dry food.

    Tip: One way to streamline this is to have a collection of dishes or plates that you rotate in as needed – just like with your own.

    To Complete This Activity

    Make a concerted effort to clean your cat's dish regularly. Have you noticed anything different in your cat's behavior? Record your observations in your Journal. And while you’re at it, upload a photo of your cat eating contently.

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