Whether your feline friend loves to play with their kibble or is just a sloppy eater in general, finding the right cat food bowl can make mealtime stress- and mess-free. Made from dishwasher-safe materials like steel and ceramic, the best cat bowls for messy eaters have sturdy, nonslip bases that keeps them firmly planted on the floor. Some are elevated on platforms that prevent them from tipping over, while others are slanted to better keep the food contained.
Jo Myers, DVM, is a Colorado-based licensed veterinarian and veterinary health expert for Just Answer. She has a background in emergency care, and has a focus in pet behavior, as well as skin, ear, and allergy issues.
Iram Sharma, DVM, is a veterinarian and part-time writer for Happy Whisker and Pup Vine. She prioritizes animal welfare, and enjoys helping pet owners find answers to questions about nutrition and care.
What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Cat Bowls For Messy Eaters
You’ll want to look for durable, easy-to-clean materials like stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic, but keep in mind that veterinarian Jo Myers advises steering clear of plastic if your cat is prone to developing chin acne. It’s also worth noting that a ceramic bowl has a chance of breaking, so it’s best to keep it as low to the ground as possible. All the picks below are made from dishwasher-safe materials, as Dr. Myers recommends daily cleaning of food and water dishes “for optimal feline health.”
For playful and messy eaters, veterinarian Iram Sharma recommends picking a bowl with a platform that prevents it from tipping over and spilling onto the floor. “This is especially important for cats that like to play with their food but also their food bowls,” she explains. Elevated cat bowls are also particularly helpful for cats who have osteoarthritis, as their higher position lessens the pressure on their lower back muscles.
Mats & Trays
Another feature that’s nice to have? A nonslip silicone mat or plastic tray that catches any food or water spills. Not only will this make cleanup quicker, but it’ll also protect your flooring over time. You can opt for a standalone bowl and place a mat underneath, or you can choose a set with a mat or tray built in.
What To Know About Whisker Fatigue & Cat Bowls
While you might be tempted to select a deeper bowl to keep food inside, Dr. Sharma points cat owners toward shallow bowls that won’t interact with your kitty’s whiskers to prevent whisker fatigue. This is when your cat’s sensitive whiskers rub against the edges of a bowl, which may cause a sensory overload that results in agitated behavior. “A cat might stop eating but still be hungry, intentionally spill food on the floor to ‘eat it freely,’ and exhibit other similar behaviors,” she says.
However, there is some debate on the topic of whisker fatigue. Dr. Myers believes the phenomenon shouldn’t be a major concern, and rather, the bowl you choose should come down to the preference of you and your cat. If your pet seems to steer clear of deeper dishes, it may be because of whisker sensitivity. On the other hand, if the high walls of a bowl don’t seem to bother your cat, then it should be safe to use. Of course, it never hurts to check in with your own vet if you’re not sure about your cat’s needs.
Other Ways To Curb Messy Eating
While your cat’s messy mealtime antics might be a slight nuisance, Dr. Myers ensures that it’s healthy — even enriching — behavior. That’s why she recommends switching up your cat’s mealtime routine with a food puzzle, such as a slow feeder or a lick mat. These options will force your cat to slow down their eating, resulting in less food flying onto the floor. “If you are introducing a food puzzle to your cat, however, it’s important to start with something easy and make sure your cat can manage it before progressing to something more difficult,” Dr. Myers advises.
With all that in mind, here are the best cat bowls for messy eaters.
Shop The Best Cat Bowls For Messy Eaters
In a hurry? These are the best cat bowls for messy eaters:
1. The Overall Best: Neater Feeder Elevated Cat Bowls
2. The Best Bowl Set With A Spill-Proof Mat: Bonza Stainless Steel Cat Bowls
3. The Best Bowl Set With A Modern Aesthetic: PETKIT Elevated Stainless Steel Bowls
4. The Best Bowl With A High-Low Design: CatGuru Ceramic Cat Food Bowl
5. The Best Bowl If You Want Size & Color Options : Super Design Slanted Cat Bowl
1. The Overall Best
- High walls help keep food off floor
- Elevated design is ergonomic
- 2-step cleaning process could be more time-consuming
If your cat is a particularly messy eater, the Neater Feeder ergonomic cat bowls can seriously curb food and water spills, thanks to the double-level design. Dr. Sharma specifically recommends this bowl set, stating: “It is slightly raised and the bowls are shallow, which is perfect for all cats. High walls for the feeder prevent water and food from spilling all over the floor.”
Stray food pieces gather at the top of the basin, while water drains into the detachable chamber at the bottom. The elevated platform creates a feeding height of 2.25 inches, while nonslip rubber feet ensure that the feeder won’t slide around your floor. Made from stainless steel, the bowls can hold up to 1 cup each, and the entire unit is safe to go in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
According to a reviewer: “After years of messy food everywhere these are like a gift from heaven! Our cats are so messy...food everywhere...not anymore! After a week we haven’t had to pick up one piece of food off the floor, table, or stuck to the wall (how did they even manage that before)! The stray kibble falls into the neater feeder and we can just toss it out. The best pet food bowls.”
Material: stainless steel and plastic | Capacity: 1 cup each | Dishwasher-safe? Yes | Available colors: 4
2. The Best Bowl Set With A Spill-Proof Mat
- Silicone mat catches food and water spills
- Easy to pack while traveling
- Flexible base keeps bowls from tipping over
- Non-elevated design is less ergonomic for older or arthritic cats
Also recommended by Dr. Sharma, this set of stainless steel cat food and water bowls from Bonza has a lower profile than the Neater Feeder, but it still proves effective in keeping spills at bay. The shallow, dishwasher-safe bowls rest securely in a dishwasher-safe silicone tray, which helps prevent them from toppling over. The raised edges on the flexible mat catch any spilled food and water for easy cleanup. Each bowl can hold up to 1.5 cups of food. If you plan on traveling with your kitty, this pick is a great portable option.
According to a reviewer: “I bought this because my cats are messy eaters and I was constantly cleaning the floors. This helps catch the food and water spills and saves my hardwood floors! Super easy to clean too!”
Material: stainless steel and silicone | Capacity: 1.5 cup each | Dishwasher-safe? Yes | Available colors: 1
3. The Best Bowl Set With A Modern Aesthetic
- Tilt-adjustment option prevents food and water spills
- Elevated platform is ergonomic
- Sleek, contemporary appearance
- Stand has no raised edges to catch larger spills
With a sleek, modern aesthetic, these stainless steel raised cat bowls sit 2 inches high, making it an ergonomic choice for cats. The dishwasher-safe bowls can either sit upright or be tilted to a 15-degree angle, which helps prevent food from spilling over the back of the dishes. Plus, the wide, oval shapes won’t interfere with your cat’s whiskers. These bowls are slightly on the larger side, too — each one can hold up to 2 cups of food, according to reviewers. Made from sturdy plastic, the streamlined stand is designed with rubber feet that keep it securely planted on the floor, but note that the stand can’t go in the dishwasher.
According to a reviewer: “My cats were very messy eaters before. These raised and tilted bowls are a game changer! No more food crumbs all over the floor. Both cats eat with their mouth over the bowl now. Great product!”
Material: stainless steel and plastic | Capacity: 2 cups each | Dishwasher-safe? Yes | Available colors: 1
4. The Best Bowl With A High-Low Design
- High-low design minimizes whisker fatigue and reduces food spills
- Ceramic material has an upscale look
- Nonslip silicone mat is included
- Mat isn’t wide enough to catch larger spills
This ceramic cat food bowl has a unique high-low design that prevents food from being pushed out the back side. The shallow bowl is less likely to aggravate your cat’s whiskers, and it can hold up to 2 cups of food or water. You also get a dishwasher-safe silicone mat that rests beneath the dishwasher-safe bowl, preventing it from sliding around your floor. The mat isn’t wide enough to completely shield your floor from stray pieces of kibble, however, so you may want to place the bowl over your own mat or tray for extra protection. You also have the option of buying an elevated stand from the brand if you want to raise the cat food dish.
According to a reviewer: “These cat food bowls are THE BEST. Great looking, easy to clean, contains the cat food mess, and doesn’t cause whisker fatigue! And you can raise up on the feeding stand by the same brand if you like.”
Material: ceramic | Capacity: 2 cups | Dishwasher-safe? Yes | Available colors: 3
5. The Best Bowl If You Want Size & Color Options
- Slanted design prevents food and water spills
- Wide range of colors and sizes available
- Doesn’t include mat to catch spills
Working with limited floor space? Or want to fill up your kitty’s bowl once a day instead of several times? This slanted cat bowl is an option that comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from a 0.5-cup to a 4-cup capacity. Tilted 15 degrees, the shallow bowl has an ergonomic design that allows your cat to reach their food without bending over very far. Not to mention, the high arc also prevents food from spilling out of the back of the bowl. Both the stainless steel bowl and melamine stand are dishwasher-safe. These unique cat bowls come in 20 colors and designs, so you can choose one that fits in seamlessly with your home.
According to a reviewer: “My cats love them!! And I love them too, a LOT less food on the floor...nice [bowls], easy to clean...glad I bought them!!”
Material: stainless steel and plastic | Capacity: options ranging from 0.5 cup to 4 cups | Dishwasher-safe? Yes | Available colors: 20
Nice To Have: A Slow Feeder For Dry Food
- Encourages cat to slow down their eating
- Slightly raised edges help keep food from spilling out
- Rubber base keeps bowl from slipping
- Doesn’t include a mat to catch spills
This slow feeder bowl is a great way to encourage your cat to take their time while eating, which can also help reduce their messiness. Made from durable, dishwasher-safe melamine, the bowl is designed with raised fish shapes that make it a bit more challenging to get pieces of dry food out. The slightly raised edges work to keep the kibble inside the bowl, while the rubber base ensures it will stay in place on your floor. The puzzle feeder also engages your cat’s mind, so they’ll feel less inclined to play with their food while eating.
According to a reviewer: “I have two food crazy young cats who can chew through almost anything. After a month with these bowls they are still in perfect condition. They are easy to wash, dishwasher safe, and most importantly, they slow my cats from scarfing down food.”
Material: melamine | Dishwasher-safe? yes | Available colors: 3
Also Nice To Have: A Lick Mat For Wet Food
- Textured rubber surface encourages licking and slow eating
- Easy enough for first-time puzzle users
- Low-profile design won’t cause whisker fatigue
- Only holds a small amount of wet food at once
Another way to keep your cat busy and entertained during mealtime is to use this lick mat. Great for wet food, the textured TPR surface encourages your cat to scrape their meal out of the crevices. This can bust boredom and reduce anxiety in your kitty, as well as clean their tongue — which may help freshen breath. The Felix design is meant for beginner cats who are new to puzzle feeders, and when your feline friend is ready to graduate to something more challenging, you can check out the Casper design. Keep in mind that this lick mat doesn’t hold a lot of wet food at once, so you may need to give your cat multiple servings.
According to a reviewer: “These little fish-shaped mats are wonderful! I use them primarily for chicken squeeze-ups because I have one cat (of three) who inhales his favorite treat and is done before I can give the other two theirs. These wonderful mats keep everyone as even as can be. They’re great!”
Material: thermoplastic rubber (TPR) | Dishwasher-safe? yes | Available colors: 3
Iram Sharma, veterinarian and part-time writer for Happy Whisker