There are a few considerations to take into account when you are selecting a cat dish for both water and food.
The first thought to have is regarding size. If you have more than one cat, you need to think whether you are going to have one large bowl for sharing, or one smaller bowl for each cat. If your cats get along very well, then sharing may not be an issue. If, on the other hand, cat fights are common, consider buying one bowl for each cat. An ideal feeding schedule for a cat is two smaller meals a day, rather than one large meal. That means using one small bowl that is refilled during the day suits a cat down to the ground.
If you are not available to refill your cat’s bowl or have a difficult work schedule that prevents routine, it may be sensible to consider purchasing an automatic feeder for your cat. This allows you to leave plenty of food for your cat in the knowledge that it will keep fresh and won’t spoil and be dispensed on a timer as if you were there in person. Feeders are available for both wet and dry food. If you are using one for fresh food, make sure it has a timer and a cooling function to keep the contents fresh. Select a reasonably heavy variety of feeder that can be cleaned easily and is dishwasher safe.
The downside of feeders though is that a cat could use it to eat more than it strictly needs (unless the food is dispensed on a timer) which could lead to obesity. Feeders are not appropriate if your cat is on a special diet or has health problems as you need to be there to supervise feeds and administer medications or supplements if necessary. Feeders should certainly not be used so as to enable you to leave your cat for days at a time as cats should never be alone for more than 24 hours. Feeders are good though for allowing your cat to graze during the day and even get a special treat every so often in your absence.
How shallow the bowl should be is another consideration when selecting a cat dish. Cats are clean and fussy creatures who hate getting the whiskers grubby. Because of this they don’t like deep bowls that mean their whiskers touch the sides of the bowl. A shallow bowl with tapered edges is most appropriate. They also like to keep one eye on their surroundings at all times when they are eating, and putting their head deep into a dish does not allow for this.
The material of the bowl is important too. Plastic bowls, despite being inexpensive can soak up smells and flavours which a typical fussy and clean cat won’t like. Some cats are allergic to plastics too which means a ceramic bowl is best. Ceramic bowls are also easier to wash and are dishwasher safe which makes your life easier too. Clean water and food bowls on a daily basis are very important to a cat. Stainless steel bowls also work very well, and to avoid water or mess from spilling all over the floor, you can invest is a specially designed mat to fit around the bowl.
When you are selecting a cat dish, always bare the safety aspect in mind. Plastics are something to avoid as mentioned above, but also look out for any bowl or feeder that has sharp edges or any other noticeable defects. Never purchase a product that contains lead or use a very fragile bowl. If the bowl were to break, your cat could be harmed. This is especially important to watch out for if your regularly feed your cat on an elevated surface as they could easily knock it off when jumping up to it. Try and ensure the bowls you select have some weight to them to avoid this scenario, and a rubber bottom to them would be very beneficial to avoid movement, spillage or possible breakage.
Some bowls are designed with two compartments, one for food and one for water. Although this may seem like a good, easy idea, often food can be spilled or transfered into the water when eating. Sometimes cats won’t drink tainted water in this way. That means they are not the most ideal container for your cat. In fact keeping everything separate is the best idea, so that would mean using one bowl for water, a separate bowl for their wet or canned food, and then another bowl for any dried biscuits of kibble that you leave out for them. That way you can make sure there are no problems with feeding due to the cleanliness or contamination of one bowl to another.
The most suitable thing to do when considering how to feed your cat(s) is to purchase several bowls. They should be relatively heavy and if possible have a rubber bottom. Ceramic or stainless steel should be chosen in preference to plastics. Ensuring they are quite shallow is important too. Try and feed your cat on the floor if possible rather than placing the bowls on an elevated surface and when the cat has finished eating, give the bowl a rinse, or better still, place it in the dishwasher. Keep water clean and fresh by replacing it often, and try and separate the water and food bowls to avoid spillage and contamination of the water. Feeding your cat in the kitchen is the most suitable place as it allows you to be near a sink for refilling the water and the dishwasher for cleaning the bowls. You can also clean or mop up any food and water spills that are made with ease.
These are the most important considerations to have a think about when you are selecting a cat dish for your furry friend.