Check out these best cat food and water bowls and the importance of bowl hygiene


best shapes for a cat's food and water bowls

Welcome to the “Healthier Cat Detox Series” Part Two

The best type of food and water bowls and keeping up on cleanliness to avoid bacterial growth is something cat lovers may not think much about.

Who doesn’t like a cute cat bowl? But did you know which materials are best and what to avoid; the shapes that work best for cats to eat and drink from; and the importance of regularly cleaning the bowls to help our cats be their healthiest version. Meow!

*Disclaimer: This post contains a affiliate links, which means I receive a very small commission if you purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). It is a great way to say thanks if you find my information helpful for you and your cat. I personally use or have used any products I recommend. 

Avoid plastic

Plastic is porous. It nicks and scratches. Plastic harbors bacteria and fungi in these scratches. Plastic bowls are believed to be responsible for feline acne on their chins in some cases—due to the bacteria harbored in plastic and/or the cat having an allergy to the plastic. (Stress causes feline acne too.) Plus, over time, it starts to get an unclean odor. Many plastics have labels claiming to be treated to prevent bacteria. A polymer has been added to the plastic. Granted, these plastics (shiny and often seen in cat litter boxes) do seem to not scratch as easily and can go long periods of time before developing odor. I’d rather be on the safe side and avoid plastic. I mean, think about this. Since plastic is porous and wears away with continuous abrasion, a cat’s tongue is pretty rough and is basically rubbing away at the plastic while licking up canned or raw food and even pushing particles of food and saliva into the tiny nicks and scratches. I came up with that one myself, but it seems very logical to me. 

Another reason to avoid plastic bowls is the Bisphenol A (BPA) used to manufacture plastics.  Since at least 1936, it has been known to mimic estrogens.  Tests show it promotes breast cancer cell growth and lowers the sperm count in rats. Heat–such as from the microwave, the dishwasher or very hot dish water–spurs the leakage of BPA from plastic. Not worth the risk when there are much safer materials to use for our kitty cats.

Best Materials to Use

Ceramic, Glass, and Stainless Steel

These are easy to clean, not porous and less likely to have scratches to harbor bacteria.  Obviously, if the ceramic or glass becomes cracked or deeply scratched, it is wise to get rid of them. That was an easy fix!

Best shapes to use — yes — there are best shapes to use! 

Food bowl shapes

The best shape is shallower and wide, so their whiskers don’t touch the sides.  Whiskers have a lot of nerves and are very sensitive. With this shape, they can easily clean up all their canned or raw food. The way this contributes to a cat’s better health is they will have less stress and discomfort when eating.  


In the event you cannot find any dishes at pet stores made specifically for cats with shallow and low sides and in the best material, here are some ideas:

  1) I like Corelle brand bowls. They are nearly indestructible, stackable, dishwasher safe and lightweight.  Choose the 10-ounce bowl for larger cats or the 9-inch all-purpose dish for smaller cats/kittens (the dish is very cute!).  These sizes have a wide enough bottom and fairly low sides–but not so low that food gets flicked over the edge. In the photo below, the white bowls are the 10-ounce bowl.

  2) Saucers and flowerpot saucers (provided the flowerpot saucers are glazed ceramic). In the photo below, the yellow and blue saucers are flowerpot saucers. 



Water bowl shapes

Wide with higher sides are better for water bowls. You can see how canned or raw food can get pushed into and stuck in the area where the sides meet the bottom.  Corelle’s 28-ounce bowl works well, as does Corningware’s 16-ounce or 24-ounce bakeware bowls. I have bought the Corningware bowls at thrift stores, often sold singly or in sets of two.  

Food and water bowl hygiene

This might seem like a subject that doesn’t need explanation. Well, I’m gonna cover it anyway because as a pet sitter, I’ve seen some pretty dirty food and water bowls in peoples’ homes.

Food bowl hygiene

If we are not washing the food bowl after every meal, bacteria will grow on the crumbs or residue leftover and it may attract ants, cockroaches and flies. We don’t like to eat off of dirty dishes. It’s best health practice to wash food bowls after every meal. Wash bowls with hot water and an earth-friendly dish soap at least one time per week. Rinse thoroughly so as to not leave any dish soap film or scent on the bowl.

Water bowl hygiene

Mold and bacteria grow in standing water. Dust and animal hair settle in it. Water should be changed daily, or at the very minimum every other day. Like for food bowls, clean with hot water and an earth-friendly dish soap. Rinse thoroughly so as to not leave any dish soap film or scent on the bowl.

In water dispensers, mold grows inside the bottle, the bottle’s cap, and the bowl. It grows in all the little crevices. A water dispenser should be dishwasher safe and washed once per week in the dishwasher. Then again, heat causes BPA to leak from plastic. Be sure your dispenser does not contain BPA. Personally, I don’t like water dispensers for two reasons.

  1) The amount of mold that grows in them

  2) If you wait for the bottle to finally empty before washing out the bowl, the bowl has lots of stuff in it just from sitting there: animal fur, food from your cat’s mouth, dust, bugs, bacteria, etc. Yuck! The same thing occurs in the bowl of the dry food dispensers (which by the way, if you haven’t already figured it out, I am absolutely not a fan of dry cat food or free-feeding). Dry food — dispensers — convenience.

When talking about a cat’s health, using dry food for convenience should not be part of the equation.  

Kim Staley|Cats Gone Healthy


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What is your biggest take-away from this article? Share in the comments below!


Don’t miss any of the Healthier Cat Detox Series:

Part One:  Safe Household Products to Use Around Cats

Part Two: No More Shots — The Cat Vaccine Hoax

woman holding orange tabby cat



Kim Staley
Healthy Life Cat Coach

Best Cat Food and Water Bowls and Hygiene

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