Like us, our feline companions prefer to eat and drink from nice, clean dishes. But finding the right food bowl for your cat isn’t a simple matter of picking the best-looking or cheapest cat dish. To make mealtimes a pleasure for your pet, it’s important to get a food bowl that is just right: it should be slightly elevated to promote healthy digestion, sturdy and durable so your cat cannot make a mess every time they eat, and of course, it should be cute too to compliment your interior.
To help you find the right cat food feeder, we’ve reviewed and tested dozens of different pet bowls. The result? A list of 15 best food bowls for cats currently on the market. We’ve also put together a comprehensive buying guide that contains everything you need to know about cat food bowls, as well as how to pick the right one for your pet.
Best Food Bowl For Cats Buying Guide & FAQ
Most cats, especially the finicky eaters, like to eat from nice, clean bowls. But how to find a quality cat dish that both you and your pet like without breaking the bank? Should you do go for elevated cat bowls, wide and shallow ones for whisker fatigue, stainless steel materials or maybe plastic dishes? With so many different options on the market, it’s no wonder why many pet parents could use help in picking quality pet bowls! Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this buying guide, we talk about everything you need to know about pet dishes, including how to spot the best food bowls for cats in the sea of feline products.
What to Look for When Buying Cat Food Bowls
To purchase a good cat food bowl, it’s important to pay attention to certain details. Build materials, design and, of course, the price, all play a role and should be considered. However, this is all very relative (for instance, some cats are allergic to plastic while some are not, and some pet parents can afford to spend much more than others), so will depend on you, your cat and their specific needs. What isn’t relative and what you should be looking for in every dish includes:
No matter the build or design materials, a pet bowl needs to be safe, first and foremost. What do we mean by this? The materials used should never contain anything toxic and the design should be such that your cat cannot chip a bowl and swallow a piece or get cut on it.
Whether stainless steel, ceramic or plastic, a cat food bowl should be durable and stable. You should be able to wash the dish every single day and still have it nice and non-chipped/non-faded for a solid year, or longer. Generally, stainless steel and ceramic bowls tend to last longer than plastic ones, although they’re pricier as well.
A cat dish should be easy to lift, move and clean. Ideally, you want a product that is both sturdy and stable so your cat cannot turn it over or slide it across the floor, but also lightweight enough so you can easily lift and move it (may be especially important for senior citizens). Also, whether you hand clean or use a dishwasher, look for bowls that are easy to clean (non-stick surfaces).
Plastic Bowls – Should I Avoid Them
Food bowls for cats made of plastic are not bad per se – they’re lightweight, usually come in a variety of colors and designs, plus they’re more affordable than ceramic and stainless steel ones. However, they’re not ideal either. For one, plastic is not good for the environment, and two, it’s possible for some cats to have an allergy to plastic. If you’re wondering what this condition looks like, it involves a skin condition that resembles acne (usually develops on the chin).
That all being said, if you have a limited budget and your cat’s been eating out of a plastic bowl for most of their life and is perfectly healthy, it’s fine to continue purchasing plastic food bowls.
Types of Food Bowls for Cats
There are literally thousands of different cat bowls currently on the market. But when it comes down to it, you could group all feeders into three different categories: old-school pet bowls, raised bowls and automatic feeders. Let’s talk about each type in a little more detail so you can decide which one is best suited for your pet.
- Old-School Pet Bowls: made of stainless steel, ceramic or even wood, old-school pet bowls are simple but functional. Usually, these dishes don’t have a special design such as a raised stand or a super-cute shape, but they serve their purpose. However, today, a lot of old-school bowls will have a silicone non-skid bottom, which prevents your kitty from sliding it over the floor. Still, not every dish has non-skid legs/bottoms, so if your cat is generally playful or mischievous, pay special attention to this detail.
- Raised Pet Bowls: made to support a proper neck position while eating, as well as to promote healthy digestion, pet bowls with elevated stands are some of the most popular food dishes today. A bowl will either be one-piece with an elevated base, or have a separate stand made of wood, steel, plastic or any other material. Generally speaking, it’s best to go for at least slightly elevated cat bowls as studies have shown that they aid in digestion. This is not a must, but it’s something to keep in mind if your cat suffers from stomach issues or is old and struggles with neck pain and arthritis.
- Automatic feeders: if you’re often away from home and don’t have anyone to feed your cat, your best option is an automatic feeder. Although quite expensive, these machines can be programmed over several days to feed your cat at the same time they normally eat. You can also control the portions which can be highly beneficial for overweight cats.
Of course, this is just a rough categorization; there are numerous cat food bowls out there, some made of plastic, some of ceramic, stainless steel, even glass. There are also wide and shallow vs narrow and deep bowls, as well as interactive feeders, all of which serve a different purpose. What’s important to remember is that there is no “the best” food bowl out there (a bowl that will suit every single cat’s needs), but there probably is the best food bowl for your cat.
How to Clean Cat Feeders
To keep your kitty happy and healthy, it’s crucial to clean their food dish regularly. You want to clean the bowl every single day to get rid of any bacteria, dirt and dust. If you’re really concerned about your kitty’s health, wash the bowl after every meal. However, how to properly clean your cat’s food dish will depend on two things: the bowl’s build materials and its design.
- All cat dishes can be washed by hand: all you have to do is use regular dish soap and warm water, scrubbing a little where needed. If your food bowl has vibrant colors or applications on the outer side, be careful not to scrub too hard as you could remove it.
- Some cat bowls can be washed in a dishwasher: most ceramic and stainless steel bowls, as well as some plastic bowls, can be tossed in a dishwasher daily, although it’s always a good idea to check it your specific bowl is dishwasher safe. Speaking of stainless steel and plastic, it’s worth remembering you should never microwave them.
Best Food Bowl For Cats FAQ:
Q: Where should I place my cat’s food bowl?
A: Wherever your cat usually eats is fine. If you have a kitten that doesn’t have a regular dining spot, this is the ideal time to teach it to eat where it’s convenient for you. Ideally, you want to place the food bowl in a quiet, open space, so your cat can feel safe and calm during every mealtime.
A: It’s best to feed your multiple feline pets separately. Cats are territorial creatures and prefer eating on their own, plus different pets have different preferences. However, if you get a raised feeder with two bowls, it’s perfectly fine to feed your pets at the same time, on the same feeder. As long as each cat has their own dish, they won’t mind.
Q: Are elevated bowls better for my cat?
A: Generally speaking, because elevated bowls are better for cat’s digestion and posture while eating, they’re considered to be the best food bowls for cats. However, if your kitty has been eating out of a regular food bowl for a long time and doesn’t seem to mind it, there’s no need to switch to raised food bowls. That said, aging and senior cats should use elevated feeders.
Q: Do I need a mat?
A: Although a mat can be highly useful as it catches spills and messes, it’s not a must-have. If your pet is a messy eater and you feed them inside the house, it is better to invest either in a convenient, wide mat or a feeder that comes with a wide stand/mat that catches spills on its own.
Our Top Pick
While all 15 products we reviewed are quality food dishes, the Necoichi Raised Cat Food Bowl takes the crown. Elevated, with a perfect holding capacity (1 cup), this dish provides maximum comfort at mealtimes, while promoting healthier digestion. Because it’s made of high-quality ceramic, the bowl is not only dishwasher safe, but microwave safe too, meaning you can heat up your cat’s meals whenever you (or your kitty!) feel like it. Importantly, the dish is designed to keep the food centered so there is less stress from chasing it around the bowl, which can help reduce whisker fatigue. Finally, thanks to a subtle inner liner, there are practically no spills with this dish, making it one of the best food bowls for cats on the market.