Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Cat feeders are much more than simple bowls to feed your favourite feline. This is the reason why the market has models aplenty: from traditional, to automatic or interactive feeders. Otherwise, all feeders could just be made the same size, with materials like plastic or aluminium to avoid breaking and that would be it.

Your kitten can’t handle food with its paws, which means it naturally has to resort to sticking its snout in the bowl. Cats have more contact with their plate than we have with ours. This is why some may find their feeder uncomfortable, unsuitable, or simply not like it. Keep reading our guide if you want t know more about these essential cat products.

Key Facts

  • Different materials are used to make cat feeders: plastic, silicone, glass, ceramics, stainless steel and melamine.
  • On the market, models vary in depth, shape, height (some are elevated), colours and decorative elements.
  • A cat feeder can be traditional, automatic or interactive, so that there’s always one to suit your feline’s needs.

Our recommendation: The best cat feeders

Nowadays, our pets have become an integrant part of our families, and most people care for them in the best possible way. If you want your feline companion to have an adequate nutrition, buying a quality feeder should be on top of your list. Here is our selection of the best cat bowls available on the market:

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about cat feeders

We designed the following section to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by consumers. This means we will discuss the materials, models and other characteristics of cat feeders. We want to help you get all the answers you need regarding the choice and use of these products, as well as feline behaviour during meal times.

Woman resting with kitten

Cats don’t like their food getting wet, or having dirty water. (Source: Alena Ozerova: 46423368/

What are cat feeders exactly?

Available in different shapes and sizes, the primary function of these containers is to hold your cat’s food. As a result of secondary needs, automatic and interactive feeders have respectively emerged on the market. They’ll provide food for your cat when you’re not around, or entertain it.

How can I recognise a quality cat feeders?

Stainless steel and melamine are the best materials for traditional cat bowls: they are sturdy, durable and easy to clean. While it can easily break, ceramic is also very appreciated by our cat friends. Here are some key aspects to get a quality feeder:

  • The material it is made from is easy to clean, doesn’t absorb or retain dirt, pathogens or odours. Stainless steel, melamine, ceramic and glass are therefore great options.
  • It doesn’t contain any toxic material or compound. If your cat suffers from dermatitis or allergies, we recommend you opt for a hypoallergenic material like glass or stainless steel.
  • The bowl and base are detachable to facilitate washing, and round edges are a big plus.
  • Design-wise, a bowl with a raised support will result more comfortable for your kitty.
  • Its diameter should be big enough so that the whiskers don’t bend when touching the bowl. Otherwise, it will be very uncomfortable for your cat.
  • The depth should be moderate; cats don’t appreciate having to put their head to far down the bowl, so deep feeders should be avoided. On the other hand, a model that’s too shallow will lead the cat to scatter its food all over the place.
  • The base should be non-slip, as many cats have a habit of moving and pushing the bowl while they eat.
Diana RamírezVeterinarian
“Pet owners can naturally choose the feeder that suits their taste, but I recommend stainless steel models to prevent bacteria from sticking. Other materials can hide many microorganisms that lead to the the growth of fungi. This can end up with your cat’s body having a high bacterial load, or having gastrointestinal conditions that will require medical care.”

What materials are unsuitable for a cat feeder?

Plastic is generally not considered a great option. While it won’t break easily, its smooth texture can quickly turn rough and uneven, prone to absorbing food residues and odours. This in turn promotes the development of pathogens and your cat will refuse to use its feeder. As a matter of fact, many felines won’t even accept using a new plastic bowl due to their unpleasant smell.

Wood is a porous material and therefore a bad option too, as its hygiene and disinfection are hard to achieve. It will also splinter over time and may harm your cat.

Certain stainless steel or ceramic bowls have wooden bases, which is completely fine as long as they are waterproof.

Can a feeder cause allergies to my cat?

In reality, the manufacturing materials may lead to allergic reactions. There have been reports of dermatitis, allergies or rashes in cats who use plastic bowls. The symptoms generally appear on the head and muzzle. Certain ceramic feeders use paints that contain toxins, but hypoallergenic paints are now also available.

Close up pet food in bowl

Keep your pet’s bowl in a cool, dry place.(Source: Anurak Ponapatimet: 44313493/

Should I buy a double feeder?

If you have a couple of feline friends, this may be a good option if you want to feed them separately – which is recommended. On the other hand, using a double bowl for food and water is usually contraindicated, as most cats like to keep their lunch and drink separate.

If the two are placed too close together, water can spill into the food or leftovers can end up falling into the drink. And, as we mentioned earlier, cats aren’t too keen on their dry food getting wet, or their water being dirty.

So we recommend you to stick to a single bowl if you have one cat in the house.

Where is the best place for my cat’s feeder?

The one condition that you should absolutely always follow is placing the feeder as far from its litter tray (or sandbox) as possible. Otherwise, your cat might very well refuse eating, and it won’t be the feeder’s fault but rather its location. A quiet place such as the kitchen is ideal for your feline’s feeder.

If you also have a canine friend living with you, make sure to put the feeder in a high place so that it cannot gobble your cat’s food too. Direct sunshine will alter the flavour of the fats and should therefore also be avoided. This last point is particularly important if you use an automatic feeder that keeps food for a week or more.

Dried dog and cat food background macro . cat food wallpaper closeup

The food you give your cat should be carefully chosen.(Source: Svetlana Medvedeva: 85707691/

Are feeders with elevated bases useful?

Yes, bowls with a high support (made from metal, wood or melamine) tend to be particularly comfortable for cats. This is especially true for older cats whose appetite decreases over time; they will keep eating less and less if they need to adopt an uncomfortable posture to access their bowl.

What are the advantages of automatic feeders?

We mentioned earlier that these products were developed as a solution for cats whose humans spend a lot of time away from home and don’t want to neglect their pets’ diet. Automatic feeders allow you to divide the food into several meals per day, so as to best fit your cat’s habits and avoid excesses or deficiencies.

Some people solve this absence issue by simply filling standard bowls to the limit, letting their cat decide when they want to eat; while it’s not necessarily a no go, this doesn’t always work. Garfield-like gluttonous cats cannot self-regulate and will just eat all the food at once, which can lead to digestive discomfort, vomiting and regurgitation.

Traditional Automatic
Price Affordable Expensive
Design/Colours Wide range of colours and decorations (inscriptions, images, prints). Their design is usually plain and the most common colours are black and white.
Can it dispense and ration food consumption when the owner is away? No. Yes (this is its main advantage).
Can it store food for several days or weeks? No, its capacity does not allow it. Yes, certain models can store several kilos of food at a time.
Suitable for dry and wet food? Yes. No, it is only used with dry food.
Durability It depends on the material. Melamine and stainless steel offer excellent durability. Like all electronic devices, they may break down from time to time.
Do they consume energy? No. Yes, they work with batteries or via a power outlet.

What are the key features of a quality automatic feeder?

You naturally want your product to be on time with your scheduled meals and to serve the correct quantity of food to your cat, but there are other characteristics that a good auto-feeder should have. Discover the main ones in the list below:

  • Detachable parts, for easy cleaning.
  • Programming from your mobile phone, to make any adjustments if needed.
  • Low or ultra-low energy consumption, to take care of the environment.
  • A resistant outer structure made from quality materials. Your cat may be tempted to play with it or to try to get the good inside. He might even scratch it or try to throw it to the ground. A durable product is therefore essential.

Cat eating in the floor

Your bowl’s material is the first thing you should evaluate before buying any product.(Source: Deyan Georgiev: 36872205/

What is the best feeder for overweight cats?

Automatic feeders are great products for this issues, as they let you to serve just the right amount of food. That way, you don’t have to leave too much food to your cat when you’re away for fear that it will starve to death by the time you get home. Overweight is often caused by this preventive measure of serving too much food.

Interactive feeders are also a great way to control your cat’s anxiety and voracity. After you hide the feed or treat in the feeder, your feline friend has to hunt its prey to get the reward. By entertaining kitties, these products contribute to channelling their anxiety.

Carmen Marca AndrésVeterinary School Professor
“Stimulating activity during mealtime can also be interesting; you can hide food into hollow toys or buy a feeder that requires effort for your cat to get the food.”

What types of cat feeders are available out there?

How suitable a specific feeder is for your cat will strongly depend on your animal’s characteristics and your lifestyle. It’s hard to say which model is better without analysing the specific situation. We identify three main types of cat bowls according to the different needs of pets and owners:

  • Traditional bowls: They consist of a simple bowl, or a bowl with a base or support. Their only function is to contain wet or dry food, that the owner will serve.
  • Automatic feeders: They are designed to dispense dry feed at a specific time. They will be particularly appreciated by people who spend their days working away from home or who travel frequently.
  • Interactive feeders: These models, besides containing food, will entertain and stimulate your cat. Your feline will have to work to find the food hidden inside the feeder. They are an excellent choice for overweight cats, as well as lonely cats who tend to get bored at home.

Shopping Criteria

Choosing the right feeder for your cat isn’t necessarily a walk in the park. You should take your time, or you might find yourself having to buy a new one in a few weeks only. The last section should have provided you with plenty of information to make your choice, but here are some key shopping criteria to further help you in your decision:


As we mentioned before, this is the very first aspect you should look at when the time comes to buy a cat feeder. It should be easy to clean, comfortable, safe and resistant. However, remember that your cat should always have the last say; it might not appreciate or tolerate certain materials, such as plastic or metals other than stainless steel.

Man sitting in an armchair, holding his gorgeous pet cat

Cleaning your feeder is quite simple.(Source: Andrea Obzerova: 58467683/


In terms of hygiene, materials like stainless steel, melamine, ceramic and glass are easy to clean and safe for your cat’s health. Most of these models will be dishwasher safe too, which is a plus. Traditional and automatic feeders with detachable parts are the easiest to clean.

Shape and size

Here’s another point we’ve talked about before: the diameter of your cat’s feeder should be large enough for its whiskers not to touch and bend against the edge of the bowl. Cats generally don’t enjoy very deep feeders, and it won’t be practical if they’re too shallow. Raised bases to elevate the bowl will help cats eat in a comfortable position.


A traditional bowl will be perfect for your feline friend if you spend enough time at home. On the other hand, you’ll want to respectively opt for an interactive or automatic feeder if your cat tends to get bored or if you’re away all day. If you like, you can naturally switch between feeders to best suit the situation.

Cute persian cat eating dry food

You’ll find many different models on the market.(Source: Anurak Ponapatimet: 54880520/


There are different styles of traditional bowls out there: modern, elegant or minimalist. You’ll find them with a multitude of decorative elements, from engravings to images, stickers or other inscriptions. On the other hand, automatic feeders are generally made from plastic and look like most household appliances, while interactive models look like toys.

Plastic Stainless steel Ceramic Melamine
Price Affordable Moderate. Anti-slip bases or elevated supports can raise the price. Excellent value for money. Moderate. Ceramic bowls are not very expensive, but an extra base or support will set a higher price. Affordable
Ease of cleaning Easy at the beginning, but the deterioration of the plastic will make it more difficult over time. Very easy Easy Very easy
Durability/resistance Good resistance, but it will deteriorate over time. Its durability is average. Excellent resistance and durability. Low resistance to blows. It can last a long time if your cat doesn’t play with its feeder. Very good resistance and durability.
Weight Light Very light Heavy Very light
Is it hypoallergenic? No Yes No No
Anti-voracity design? Plastic can support anti-voracity design. No No No
Acceptance by cats Low Moderate High High
Decorative elements Simple design, usually only colours. The base around the bowl is usually decorated with images, inscriptions and engravings. The ceramic is painted and it can also feature drawings and inscriptions. The melamine is coloured and may present floral elements, arabesques and other inscriptions. 


We’re ready to bet you didn’t think there were so many different factors to take into account when buying a feeder for your cat. However, we strongly encourage you to take enough time to find the perfect model for your feline friend, answering to all its needs – and yours.

Quality traditional cat bowls can be budget-friendly; if you opt for these models, the most important is that it is safe and comfortable for your pet. On the other hand, automatic feeders will be a bigger investment, but they are a fantastic solution if you spend a lot of time away from home and went to make sure your cat maintains healthy eating habits.

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(Source of featured image: Alexey Poprotsky: 33533976/