Providing the Best Quality Dining Experience for Your Cat
By: Suzanne Denk, Dip.FBST, Animal Enrichment Specialist
Cats have a reputation for being picky eaters. While they may be choosy about whether they prefer pate or shreds, there are simple steps we can take to provide the most stress-free and pleasant dining experience for our cats.
First, choose a safe place for food dishes to be placed. A cat wants to see what is moving around them whether that is other animals, children or you. Make sure that the litter box is located far away – no one wants to eat near the bathroom! While household cats may be willing to eat out of the same bowl together, they shouldn’t have to. Cats will gather around a food source but eating is not a social activity for cats like it is for people. Each cat should have their own bowl of food in a separate location, be able to eat peacefully and eat the amount they want.
Next, observe how your cat eats. Do they lean to the far edge of the bowl so that their whiskers are not touched or pressed by the sides of the bowl? While a hungry cat will eat out of a bowl, you can try a very shallow bowl or small plate instead for their comfort. Whiskers can be very sensitive!
It may be convenient to have your cat’s food and water dishes side by side, but it is not what they would prefer. Water should be placed away from the food to avoid any tiny crumbs in the water. While cats like having a clean litter box, they like clean, fresh water even more. Clean the bowl daily and keep the water level consistent. For a cat who likes to play in the water, use a large, heavy ceramic dog bowl with an absorbent rug underneath it. A fountain may be ideal for the water player or a cat who sits by the faucet. Fountain water also stays oxygenated which helps it taste better and may encourage more drinking.
Many of us feed our cats dry food and have it available at all times. There are benefits to scheduled feeding times and removing uneaten food after 15-20 minutes. Cats have small stomachs and eating several small meals is more natural for them. Scheduled meals can influence their energy levels and create regular bathroom habits. If your cat is a little hungry, they may be more willing to eat and be less finicky at meal time.
Cats will eat when they are hungry but meal time should be pleasant, comfortable and stress-free. Following these tips will give your cat the fine dining experience they deserve!