What makes the perfect cat bowl? How to choose one for your cat

Feb 07, 2024

What makes the perfect cat bowl? How to choose one for your cat

Cats can be notoriously fussy about their food and water bowls, and choosing the right bowl for your cat is important to ensure they have a comfortable and enjoyable feeding and drinking experience. 

In this article, we answer some frequently asked questions to help you navigate the world of cat bowls, whether you are buying your kitten’s first bowl or a new one for your cat. 

Bone china cat bowl

What should I look for when choosing a bowl for my cat?

There are so many cat bowls available that it can feel overwhelming to choose one. A good pet bowl should be durable, sanitary, safe, and the right size and shape for your cat’s needs. 

What is the best material for a cat bowl?

Cat bowls generally come in three materials: metal, ceramic or plastic. 

We don’t recommend plastic food and water bowls. They are readily available and inexpensive, but little scratch and bite marks on the surface are a breeding ground for bacteria, which could become a health risk for your cat and make them unwell. It is also a common cause of chin acne that can be bothersome. 

Plastic can also take on tastes and smells that can be off-putting to your cat’s sensitive sense of smell, and some plastics can even leech toxic chemicals that are harmful to your precious kitty, so it’s definitely a material to avoid. 

Instead, choose a bowl that is metal or ceramic. 

Cheshire & Wain’s cat bowls are made from stoneware or fine bone china, which makes them stylish, durable, and easy to clean. All our bowls are dishwasher safe, which is a real bonus.

Kate Welton cat bowls

Check out our range of cat bowls here: https://www.cheshireandwain.com/collections/homeware-for-cat-owners-food-and-water-bowls 

What shape should I look for when choosing my cat’s bowl?

Wide and shallow bowls are generally the best shape for your cat’s comfort when eating. If a bowl is narrow your kitty could brush their sensitive whiskers against the sides which can put them off using it. 

Our Kate Welton feeding dishes have been carefully designed to avoid this problem. They are wide and shallow, meaning your cat can eat comfortably - perfect for kittens, adult cats and senior kitties who sometimes struggle to eat from deep bowls. The straight sides keep food from spilling over the edge and making a mess. They are lovely on their own or as a set of two for multicat households.  

Shallow cat feeding dishes

Our Koi Carp stoneware water bowl is extra large and holds approximately 1.5 litres (50 fl oz) of water, providing plenty of fresh, clean water for your kitty to drink from. In the wild, cats would generally drink from larger bodies of water, like lakes and streams. Sadly (for your cat) this bowl may not contain real fish but the playful Koi Carp design can help your kitty to dream! If you have a large-breed cat, such as a Maine Coon or Savannah Cat, this bowl would work well as a food bowl too! 

Koi Carp XL cat bowl

For a set of extra-fancy dinnerware, our bone china bowls come in two cute illustrated designs. The shape of these bowls are curved with a flared rim to make it more comfortable for your cat’s sensitive whiskers. 

Louis Wain bone china cat bowl
Caviar cat bowl bone china

How often should I change my cat's water?

It's essential to regularly provide fresh and clean water for your cat to ensure their health and well-being.

You should change your cat's water at least once a day. Cats can be picky about the freshness of their water, and they may avoid drinking if the water appears stale or has been sitting for too long. 

It is crucial to regularly clean your cat’s food and water bowls to kill any bacteria that may be growing there. Simply pop them in the dishwasher, and they will be sparkling clean in a jiffy! 

 Koi Carp water bowl

Where should I put my cat's food and water bowls? 

To ensure that your cat feels calm and relaxed, place their food and water bowls somewhere quiet so they don’t feel stressed and can eat and drink in peace.

Often, cats like their water bowls away from their food bowls, and this behaviour may be rooted in their natural instincts. 

In the wild, a cat's instinct is to keep its food and water sources separate. This behaviour is believed to be a survival instinct to avoid contaminating their water with potential prey remnants or bacteria from their food.

Cats are hygienic creatures known for their grooming habits and prefer clean environments. Placing the water bowl away from the food bowl may be an extension of this preference for cleanliness.

I have multiple cats. Can they share bowls? 

If you live in a multi-cat household, make sure they each have their own food bowl. This will avoid any competition between your kitties, and means that everyone can enjoy their meals in a stress-free environment. It is often recommended to put them in different places too, as some cats can become territorial around food. 

Some cats will tolerate sharing water bowls, but it’s recommended to have more than one water bowl per household, even if you only have one cat. Percy and Penelope gladly share their Koi Carp Bowl, but we have a few other bowls of water dotted around the house, so water is always conveniently available to them. 

Multicat household

Why won’t my cat won’t drink out of their water bowl?

As previously mentioned, cats can be very fussy about their eating and drinking conditions. Ensure you offer your cat fresh water daily and consider moving your cat’s water bowl away from their food bowl. 

Some cat owners find their kitties drinking from almost anywhere other than their bowl: the shower, the sink, a glass of water, or even the toilet…! As long as your cat is drinking water, there shouldn’t be cause for concern if you observe these behaviours. 

If your kitty seems obsessed with a dripping tap, they may prefer running water. If this is the case, you could try a cat water fountain or turn the tap on for them sometimes, as some cats find taps fascinating and fun! 

Cats may avoid drinking water if they have dental problems, kidney issues, or other health concerns. If you notice changes in your cat's behaviour, especially if they are lethargic, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian.

Cat's like taps!

My cat isn’t drinking water. Should I give them milk instead?

If your cat isn’t drinking water, please don’t be tempted to give them milk. While cats are often portrayed as enjoying milk, especially in popular culture (think Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Aristocats, even the phrase 'the cat that got the cream' to name a few), the reality is that many cats are lactose intolerant. This means that they lack the enzyme lactase, which is needed to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk. Drinking milk can lead to digestive upset and make your kitty quite unwell.  

While some cats may tolerate small amounts of milk without any adverse effects, it is generally not recommended to offer milk to cats. Instead, always provide them with fresh water to drink.

There are cat milk substitutes that are lactose-free and specifically formulated for feline digestion but these must be consumed in moderation.

Why does my cat knock over their bowl?

This behaviour is often observed in cats and it’s a funny one. Cats are naturally playful and are notorious for knocking things over, so it could be a continuation of this. Or - it could also be in protest that the food/water isn’t up to scratch!

All our bowls are ceramic (heavier than materials like stainless steel and plastic), which makes them harder for your kitty to knock over if they are prone to this! 


We hope this has helped you choose the right bowls for your kitty!