Types of Cat Food Bowls and Feeders
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Cats need various accessories for their health and well-being. Since food bowls allow cats to eat the food necessary to keep them alive, making sure they are right for your cat is important. You may have always used the same type of food dish for cats, but there are actually many different types available. While many traditional food bowls will work to allow your cat to eat, there are some hidden factors regarding cat feeders you may not have considered.
At AnimalWised, we look at the different types of cat food bowls and feeders to see what advantages and disadvantages they may have. Taking these into consideration, we can help you to choose the right type of food bowl for your cat.
The different types of cat food bowls and feeders
Cat food bowls, feeders and dispensers have benefited from various technological advancement. However, this doesn't mean the best cat food bowl for your feline will cost a lot of money. You will need to look at the needs and requirements of your cat and choose one of the following types of cat food bowl:
- Traditional cat food bowls and feeders
- Automatic cat feeders
- Interactive cat feeders
- Elevated cat feeders
- Slow cat feeder
- Smart cat feeders
To know more about these different types of cat feeders, we explain them in greater detail below. Before you do so, you may also be interested in how much food you should feed your cat to know how much to put in their bowl.
1. Traditional cat food bowls and feeders
Whether they have decorations, are square or round, traditional cat bowls operate in the same way. They are a shallow cat food bowl in which the cat's food is placed. You set it on the ground and the cat bends down to eat from it. It is the most simple type of cat feeder and the one you will likely first think of.
Shallow cat food bowls can be made from various materials. Often, they are made from cheap plastic which allows them to be of various colors and decorated with different designs. However, you can also find steel, ceramic and even glass cat food bowls. Some have rubber strips or studs on the bottom to prevent them from slipping on the floor. Other may have a non-slip mat. Although round cat food bowls are the most common, you can find them in almost any shape. Some are even shaped like cat's paws or similarly related designs.
If you have ever noticed that your cat has black spots on their chin like dandruff, then it may have something to do with their food bowl. Plastic cat food bowls are more porous than most and dirt accumulates on the edges. This contributes to feline acne and other problems. Steel and ceramic bowls do not have this problem, although the brittleness of the latter can make them problematic.
Ideally choose a traditional cat food bowl which is made from metal and has stoppers on the bottom to prevent movement. While they come in different sizes, all will need to be shallow enough to allow a cat to eat from them.
2. Automatic cat feeders
Automatic feeders are becoming more popular, likely in relation to the quickening pace of modern life. They are useful in using portion control for animals which spend extended periods on their own. The mechanism can work in various ways. Some use a microchip on the cat's collar to issue an amount of food when the cat comes close to eat. This is something also used for cat doors.
More commonly, the automatic dispenser issues a certain amount of food at a preset time. This means the cat can have the correct portion at a given time, even if we are not in the home. Some may use a timer on its own or in combination with a remote operation. Cat guardians can let their cat have some food ready by using their smartphone or computer.
Benefits of automatic cat feeders include portion control. For large or obese cats, providing small portions throughout the day helps them to avoid overeating. Since the food is housed inside the feeder, they also keep the food fresh and avoid contamination with insects or anything else we might find in the home. Although they can be used to feed cats when you're not around, it is still important to know how long can you leave a cat alone.
Another benefit is for those with more than one cats. Since some of these automatic food bowls can be opened with a chip on the cat's collar, only the cat which needs the food will be able to eat it. This prevents greedy cats in the home from eating more than their share. This also allows a specific cat to eat a special diet if they need it.
These plastic feeders are often made out of plastic and may run on batteries. Some have a special feature which allows you to remotely provide them with treats.
3. Interactive cat feeder
These types of cat feeders act in the same way as interactive toys. They not only provide the cat with their necessary food, but also equally necessary cognitive stimulation and physical activity. They also allow the cat to eat more slowly.
Although not ideal, they are most commonly made out of plastic. They are designed in such as way that the cat has to work out a system to extract the food from the feeder. This is usually in the form of a labyrinth. Molded plastic creates sections which the cat has to maneuver the food through. Other interactive feeders for cats have holes where the food enters one end and the cat has to push the food out another.
Due to the way interactive feeders are made, it is not advisable to use wet food. Only dry food can be maneuvered properly and it is more hygienic. There are some levels of difficulty which prohibits the cat from becoming bored.
4. Elevated cat feeders
We can also find cat feeders with a base, which makes them rise above the ground. Some have an ergonomic design that facilitates access to food and the adoption of a comfortable posture that can favor cats with mobility problems.
Another option to achieve elevation is a support for feeders or feeders that have a built-in silicone base with the support in the center. This base provides them with good stability and protects the floor from stains. They are usually made of ceramic or aluminum, although you can also find them made of wood.
However, there are certain considerations to make. Not all cats will need an elevated cat feeder and we should ensure we only provide one if it is helpful. If it is too high, then it may not be beneficial. To make these considerations, you can take a look at our related article on whether your cat's food bowl should be raised.
If you do decide to make your own elevated cat food bowl, check out this video below for inspiration:
5. Slow cat feeder
Some cats are so anxious about food, they eat much too fast. This is often the reason why they may vomit after eating. The reasons are myriad and often due to stress or a fear the food will be taken away. To combat the situation, anti-voracity feeders have been crated which slows down the cat's eating. The way this is done is via impediments to food access, similar to interactive cat feeders.
Whether you need to stimulate their cognition or reduce their eating speed, slow food eaters can be very helpful. However, you will also need to look at the other reasons behind this fast eating as a slow cat feeder addresses the symptom, not the underlying problem. Image: feelcats.com
6. Smart cat feeders
The so-called smart cat bowls contain a scale that allows you to accurately weigh the amount of food to be eaten by the feline. Some models of these cat feeders are made with antibacterial materials to maximize hygiene. They are also often lower in height and allow better access to food.
Another benefit found with the use of smart cat feeders is that it is usually linked to a mobile application with which a detailed guide of the cat's diet can be taken. You can chart your cat's eating habits, notice any abnormalities and provide the veterinarian with helpful details is a problem arises.
How to choose the best feeder for your cat
First of all, it is important to look at the material. The most popular material is plastic due to its cheapness. It is increasingly being replaced by steel, ceramic or even bamboo. The material is relevant, as plastic can cause allergic reactions in some cats. In addition, it acquires odors and degrades over time. For these reasons, ceramic, stainless steel or bamboo are more recommended options.
When choosing the best cat feeder for your cat, you also have to take into account the individual cat. For example, Persian cats are often brachycephalic and will have a shorter snout. Food bowls too low to the ground can make it difficult for them to access the food. The same occurs when the cat is a small kitten. Very shallow cat food bowls or even plates may be better in these circumstances.
If we decide to use automatic cat food bowls or smart cat feeders, we need to know there will be a period of adjustment. Cats are creatures of routine. You will need to introduce the cat to the system and supervise them to ensure they are eating properly.
Another key factor to consider is placement of the water bowl. Double cat feeders which have the food bowl and water bowl directly next to each other are not recommended. Separation means the water does not become easily contaminated with the food and remains more appetizing for the cat. This encourages the cat to drink more water and helps to avoid dehydration in cats.
The best cat feeder for your cat is the one which best meets their particular needs. These needs will change throughout their lifetime. For example, older cats may not be able to maneuver as much as before and will need a feeder with easy access and which doesn't strain their muscles. If the cat develops anxiety, we can help them feel secure by providing slow feeders. The same goes for bored cats which require more environmental enrichment and mental stimulation.
The most important thing is always to know our animal to learn to meet its needs, since not all cats are the same or need the same type of feeder.
If you want to read similar articles to Types of Cat Food Bowls and Feeders, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.