Genetically, domestic cats remain closely similar to their wild ancestors, so have maintained most of their natural behaviours, such as survivalism and hunting (I’m sure your cat has brought you a wild present or two before!). Therefore, it’s important we provide their food and water in suitable ways, to encourage them to utilise their skills and keep them mentally stimulated.
There are multiple food and water bowls on the market, so let’s take a look at each style to help you decide which is best for your cat.
Cat food and water bowls come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, so it can be tricky to know which type is best.
Cats prefer wide, shallow bowls to eat and drink from. This design will provide enough room to avoid having to put their head into the container which would aggravate their sensitive whiskers.
Just remember, cats prefer drinking from the brim of their bowl, so with shallow cat water bowls, they will need to be refilled more regularly!
Bowls are most commonly available in plastic, ceramic, glass and metal. All are suitable, but it may be best to go for ceramic or metal, for a few reasons:
They don’t harbour odour, so will not be a deterrent to your cat
They are easy to clean
They will keep water cool in the summer months
Where you place your cat’s bowls is also important and influences how much they consume.
Cats like to hunt and catch prey, so if they were to have their water bowl too close to their food bowl, this could risk contaminating their water so it then harbours bacteria. This can then make your cat feel poorly. In addition, cats feel safer and less vulnerable if their food and water bowls are apart. Double bowls are therefore not a great idea and are usually small and deep, so will irritate your cat’s whiskers too.
Cats are best suited to having multiple water bowls around the house and they should be placed in quiet, calm areas on easy-to-clean flooring (for your benefit!). Cat food mats are also really useful to have under food and water bowls, as they are sizeable and easy to clean. Their food bowl should be kept in a similar, but separate, area. It’s also wise to keep their bowls away from their litter tray – they are clean animals, and we wouldn’t like eating or drinking next to our toilet!
Some cats get a bit too excited to tuck into their food and can eat it a bit too quickly (can’t we all when we’re hungry). This can then lead them to regurgitate the food before they’ve had the chance to digest it and absorb the all-important nutrients. There are slow feeder cat bowls and cat slow feeder dispensers available to help with this – they do what they say on the tin, ensure your cat eats slower, reducing the risk of them bringing their food back up. This is achievable as they are designed almost like a puzzle.
Slow feeders and slow feeder dispensers also have other benefits. They provide mental stimulation, by encouraging cats to work for their food like they would need to in the wild. On a similar note, if your cat is on a diet, they can help control the amount of food your cat eats so have a role in weight loss.
As our cats get older, they are more prone to arthritic changes, so it can be uncomfortable to crouch down to drink or eat from their bowl. Providing raised cat bowls is a great way to make it easier and nicer for your cat to eat and drink, as there is less pressure on their joints and less flexion of the neck.
Cats like having a variety of water stations, and I’m sure you’ve seen a cute video of a cat drinking from a tap. Water fountains are a great way of providing water and encouraging your cat to drink, particularly if your cat isn’t a fan of drinking standing water. Being suitably hydrated will in turn help improve your cat’s overall health. Some cat fountains have filters in them, to help remove any dust and hair, so the water is kept as clean and fresh as possible, whilst others actively cool the water which is useful for the summer months.
Cats are independent creatures so it is important we familiarise ourselves with their eating and drinking preferences, whilst taking into account their programmed desire to hunt and catch.