A lot of articles which compare different cat bowl types can be found on the Internet. You can find out a lot about pros and cons of using bowls made of different materials ? like plastic, metal, glass, porcelain? Unfortunately, there are hardly any articles discussing the size of the bowl.
And bowl size DOES matter!
Cats? mouths are small, so a lot of beginner cat-owners buy small food bowls. However, this is a huge mistake. If you take a look at your cat, you will easily notice long whiskers. These vibrissae are special touch receptors. Their follicles are embedded much deeper than, for example, top-fur coat, and have better sensory innervation and blood perfusion. Which means that vibrissae are extremely sensitive to touch. Like a seismograph, they?re able to pick up the slightest air movement! I?m serious! Vibrissae are so sensitive they enable locating prey on the move. They also make it easier to move around in the dark, avoiding obstacles. What?s more, they help the animal assess the distance and play a role in maintaining balance.
It?s obvious now that when your cat tries to eat or drink from a small bowl, the edges of the bowl irritate the whiskers. It?s not a pleasant feeling and it distracts them during a meal. This may seem trivial until we realise that cats eat several times during the day. If an average cat eats 5 times a day, that makes 35 meals a week. Which means that cats? whiskers are being irritated 35 times a week, every week ? every time he?s trying to eat a meal!
No wonder that cats regularly eating from small bowls become increasingly irritated. Constant stimulation of the vibrissae during meals causes chronic distress. And the consequences are terrible. A cat can?t eat his fill, because something is constantly nudging against his whiskers ? this negatively affects digestion process, which makes the kitty even more irritated. Constant anxiety may lead to a number of following problems:
- digestive system diseases
- nutritional deficiency ? this may lead to a lot of disorders (including neurological symptoms)
- your cat may become aggressive
Which bowls should you choose? The ideal food bowl should be:
- Shallow ? the deeper the bowl, the deeper the cat has to reach to get to food, thus immersing whiskers in it.
- Wide ? an optimal choice would be a bowl that is at least 12 centimeters wide.
- Sturdy ? so your kitty doesn?t have to chase it around the room. It?s fairly annoying too. A sturdy bowl is heavy or has a non-slip base.
- Safe ? made with approved material and mechanical damage proof. For example, porcelain or glass bowls may chip (especially when we?re dealing with young, energetic kittens). This runs the risk of kitties cutting themselves on sharp edges or eating a sharp, chipped-off element, which may damage their digestive system.
- Easy to clean ? need I say more? ?