When it comes to a happy, well-nourished cat, the food you choose isn’t the only thing to consider. The best cat food bowls are made from stainless steel and shaped to avoid the whiskers, according to Dr. Danielle Rosenberg, an associate veterinarian with Boston Veterinary Clinic. In order to make feeding more comfortable for your cat, look for wide and shallow bowls — and if it suits the food you give and your cat’s feeding style (read: your cat isn’t super messy), it’s also worth considering more plate-like shapes especially if you have a picky feline on your hands.
When it comes to material, stainless steel beats plastic and ceramic for Dr. Rosenberg. Stainless steel is a great material for bowls because it’s nonporous (so it doesn’t trap bacteria like plastic can even after washing), and most designs are dishwasher-safe. And while ceramic bowls with food-safe glazes are also nonporous, they’re a lot less durable than stainless steel, since cracks and chips can form and when they do, it’s best to get an entirely new bowl.
Beyond the basic bowl shape and material, consider your pet’s specific needs. “Older cats that have arthritis may benefit from not having to bend their head over to eat,” Dr. Rosenberg wrote in an email to Bustle. So if that’s a concern, consider an elevated design, which also have the added benefit of keeping things tidier. Alternatively, for messy cats, you might enjoy a design that comes with a mat that’s dishwasher-friendly. Finally, when it comes to water, Dr. Rosenberg recommends a fountain, since “the fresh, flowing water may stimulate them to drink more.” I’ve included a stainless steel option at the end of this list.
No matter which of these cat food bowls you go with, Dr. Rosenberg stresses that “bowls should be washed/cleaned on a daily basis or even between meals, if possible.” Scroll on for the best options on Amazon to get you started.
1. The Overall Best
With a shallow 1.25-inch bowl and a unique plate-like shape without steep sides, the Dr. Catsby’s cat food bowl is designed with sensitive whiskers in mind. The body is made with stainless steel, while the removable base is made with food-grade silicone so it doesn’t move around too much. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe. With a 4.6-star overall rating after more than 1,000 customers have weighed in, it’s shopper approved, with many writing that it even worked for their picky pets. However, a few reviewers reported that their cats scooted food onto the floor easily with this bowl, especially if you put in more than a cup of food at a time.
According to one reviewer: “We adopted a cat who would only eat pieces of kibble that he pulled out of his bowl with his paw. We tried 3 other types of bowls, and he acted like he was afraid of them. Then we thought maybe he was afraid of a reflection from the stainless steel, so we tried ceramic bowls. That didn't work either; he kept pulling pieces of kibble out of his bowl. Then we saw this Dr. Catsby's Food Bowl for Whisker Relief and thought we should try it. Well, almost immediately our cat started eating normally, with his face down in the bowl.”
2. The Best Budget Cat Food Bowl
If pickiness is less of a concern, and you’d like to save a few bucks, this fan-favorite stainless steel cat bowl has all the basics covered for less than $10. It’s made of stainless steel and has a permanent silicone loop at the base to reduce movement. It has a shallow 1.1-inch-deep design to reduce whisker fatigue, and it is also dishwasher safe. One thing to keep in mind: A few reviewers noted that the sticker can be difficult to remove, but one customer recommended that it’s easy to do if you warm up the bowl, peel slowly, and apply a little olive oil on any remaining glue spots. It has a one-cup capacity.
According to one reviewer: “This bowl is sturdy and has a non slip bottom. Keep in mind it is on the small side. It is perfect for a single cat feeding. the wide shape allows space for whiskers.”
3. The Best Elevated Bowl
Older cats or those who have a hard time moving their necks can benefit from an elevated bowl, according to Dr. Rosenberg. If that sounds like your cat, consider this elevated style from Neater Feeder. The two included dishwasher-safe, 1-cup bowls are made of sanitary stainless steel which is 1.25 inches deep. This is also a popular pick among those with messy felines because the walls around the edge are high, and the double-layered tray has drainage holes on the top so water or excess food collects in the tray below for easier cleanup. The feet of the plastic frame has nonslip silicone feet to keep things in place, too. It’s 4.75 inches tall and comes in gray or light brown.
According to one reviewer: “My cat is a messy eater and I would often find food everywhere but the cat tray not only keeps all of that in but makes for a faster cleanup too. The boosted height also helps his back as hes getting old and doesnt like to bend down for long periods of time to eat.”
4. A Cat Bowl Pair With A Mat
If you have a messy cat, you’ll appreciate that all three detachable parts of this cat bowl duo with a silicone tray are dishwasher safe. When they’re placed together though, they’re very difficult to knock over. Each bowl holds up to 1.5 cups of food, and the bottom tray is nonslip to further reduce messes while it contains spills. Plus, the included stainless steel bowls are only about 1.6 inches deep, which is the highest on this list but still relatively shallow.
According to one reviewer: “My cat can’t dump these over. It doesn’t slide across my kitchen floor. It’s a soft silicone which makes it easy to get the bowls in and out for me but not the cat. The bowls are the perfect size. The whole thing is easy to clean.”
5. A Set Of Shallow Bowls In A Ton Of Sizes
Whether you have multiple cats using the same dish or just like options, these sets of affordable cat food bowls are definitely worth considering. The 10-ounce size is only an inch deep, while the 56-ounce one is 1.4 inches, making them a great shallow pick to reduce whisker fatigue. Made from dishwasher-safe, food-grade stainless steel, they’re designed to last. However, if you have a messy eater, keep in mind that these don’t have a nonslip bottom or another mechanism to keep them in place. Choose from sets of two or four bowls.
According to one reviewer: “Our cats much prefer these bowls over small, deep bowls or plastic ones. One of our cats has allergies to plastic and they immediately cleared up when we started using these bowls. They’re easy to clean and have held up even when dropped.”
Also Great: A Stainless Steel Water Fountain
Dr. Rosenberg recommends getting a fountain to encourage cats to drink more water. This filtering cat fountain is designed to reduce splashing, and you can adjust the flow rate. It is made of nonporous and durable stainless steel, and all the parts except for the pump and filter can go into the dishwasher. Plus, it’s whisper-quiet at just 30 decibels.
According to one reviewer: “I usually had plastic fountains, but this stainless steel one is so quiet. Even when the room is silent, I barely hear it. The cats love it too and it encourages them to drink more water.”