Ceramic construction is safe for cats with plastic allergies and helps prevent acne. Openings accommodate even the largest paws. Easy to fill. Dishwasher safe. Large enough for multiple cats. Effectively slows eating without causing too much frustration. Stimulates mental and physical activity.
Enthusiastic eaters might manage to pull it around hard floors. Needs to be placed on a nonslip mat.
Wide, lidded top compartment is easy to fill. Automatically dispenses food to tunnels along the sides for a stimulating mealtime challenge. Wide base helps keep "caught" food off the floor. Adjustable output gives owners full control of portion sizes. Nonslip ring prevents sliding. Affordable.
Only suitable for dry food. Screwing the feeder lid on and off can be fiddly.
Protrusions force cats to reach into the bowl and lift food out, putting an end to gulping. Low sides allow unmotivated kitties to push bits of food out. Appeals to natural feline hunting instincts. Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Heavy enough to resist tipping. Free of BPA and phthalates.
Large-pawed cats might have a tough time reaching food near the center of the bowl.
Low ridges are ideal for wet food or cats who aren't interested in fishing food out with their paws. Manages to slow greedy cats down without being discouragingly difficult to use. Ceramic construction prevents plastic-related skin and allergy issues. Smooth surface is easy to keep clean.
Clever or determined kitties might get food out faster than owners would like. Prone to sliding on smooth surfaces.
Multilayered vertical design encourages physical activity and slows eating. Hones problem-solving skills. Openings are large enough for big paws. Generous dimensions accommodate multiple cats. Variable difficulty settings can be adjusted to suit individual personalities. Easy to fill. BPA-free.
Take-charge cats might simply knock it over to access food. The bowl could be bigger.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Does your cat seem to devour each meal as fast as you dish it out? While we certainly want our feline friends to have a healthy appetite, gobbling grub at lightning speed can cause problems. Not only can rapid eating put Fluffy on a fast track to obesity, but it also frequently results in food being regurgitated minutes later. If you're concerned about your cat's speedy eating habits, a slow feed cat bowl could be the solution.
Slow feed cat bowls come in a variety of designs, many of which actively encourage cats to "hunt" for their food. This innovative approach to mealtime delivers the two-fold benefit of slowing your cat's eating pace while providing mental stimulation at the same time. Some slow feed cat bowls are more challenging to eat from than others, so be sure to keep your cat's personality and paw size in mind while you shop. Other important considerations include size and capacity, materials, and wet/dry food compatibility.
If you need help choosing the best option for your kitty, our in-depth guide to slow feed cat bowls, and recommendations, will point you in the right direction.
Slow feeders for cats come in four basic styles: slow feed bowls, slow feed lick mats, puzzle feeders, and automatic feeders. Keep your cat's disposition, food type, and lifestyle needs in mind as you browse through the various options. It will help you find the best fit for your feline.
Slow feed bowls: These generally consist of either a flat dish with a series of raised ridges spread over the surface, or a dome-like dish with paw-size openings positioned around the dome. Some flat dishes have deep ridges that require felines to fish out little bits of food at a time using only their paws. Others have shallower ridges that allow cats to simply eat around the pattern. Dome-shaped bowls have a center cavity for food and openings in the dome, inviting cats to reach in and pull out their "catch."
Slow feed lick mats: Lick mats are made of flexible silicone and consist of a flat, mat-like structure with a shallow ridge pattern on the surface. This unobtrusive design allows cats to simply lap up their meals. Because these slow feeders don't require any pawing or picking, they're most effective when paired with wet food or lickable cat treats. Most slow feed lick mats have suction cups to keep them from sliding and can easily be attached to any smooth, nonporous surface.
Puzzle feeders: As the name implies, cat puzzle feeders require some intelligence and cunning to master. Available in a host of interesting designs ranging from multilevel food trees to little balls that dispense food while your cat plays, puzzle feeders appeal to your feline's innate hunting instincts, making one an excellent choice for indoor cats in need of mental and physical stimulation. With that said, puzzle feeders aren't every cat's bag of catnip. If your kitty is impatient, physically impaired, or even just hopelessly lazy, it might be a good idea to pass up the puzzle feeder in favor of something a little less challenging.
Automatic feeders: While automatic cat feeders don't call for much effort from your cat, they can still give you some control over the volume of food ingested in one sitting. The best automatic cat feeders allow you to adjust the portion size and dispensing frequency as necessary. Needless to say, this setup can be ideal for busy pet parents who would otherwise be forced to resort to free-feeding (leaving food out for cats to eat at will) when they’re away from home.
The average slow feed cat bowl holds one generous portion for a single diner. If you have multiple cats who are accustomed to eating together, consider choosing a larger bowl so your extended feline family can continue to enjoy their meals together. Either way, it's always a good idea to check the total food capacity of any slow feed cat bowl to ensure it's able to accommodate your desired amount of food.
Even the best slow feed cat bowl won't be much help if it's filled with the wrong kind of food. Although most manufacturers specify wet or dry food compatibility somewhere on the box or in the product description, a quick look at the bowl's design and ridge pattern can also help you identify whether it's a good fit for your cat's food type.
Dry food: As a rule of thumb, deeper ridge patterns or anything that requires cats to use their paws are best suited to dry food.
Wet food: Bowls or mats with shallow ridges that allow for licking should be reserved for wet food or runny treats.
Wet and dry food: Bowls with widely spaced ridges can be used for both wet and dry food as long as your cat is able to fit its snout between obstacles without getting poked in the face.
Slow feed cat bowls are typically made of plastic, silicone, or ceramic. Plastic is an exceedingly popular choice, not only for its affordability but also because it can easily be molded into a wide variety of shapes. Although most cats do just fine with plastic, it can cause acne breakouts in some felines. If you think your cat might have a plastic allergy, consider choosing something made of ceramic or silicone. Of course, there's always the possibility of breakage when using ceramic bowls, but if you're concerned about sensitivities or bacterial buildup, it's well worth the risk.
Some clever kitties quickly figure out how to tip over their slow feed bowl. If tactics like this are right up your cat's alley, a hefty ceramic bowl or a model with suction cups should thwart Fluffy's plans.
Because most slow feed cat bowls call for a paws-on approach to mealtimes, they're far more likely to end up sliding around on hard surfaces than their run-of-the-mill counterparts. A nonskid base or suction cups will help keep your cat's bowl in place while she works at getting her food out. If you feed your cat on the counter, this is one feature you definitely won't want to overlook.
A handful of slow feed cat bowls come with a water bowl attached. While this configuration works in theory (and in practice when used with regular bowls), your cat could very well end up dropping her hard-earned kibble into the water. Unless it comes attached to a lick mat or a bowl with a shallow ridge pattern that allows your cat to eat without scooping food out first, we recommend giving food-and-water-bowl combos a miss.
Slow feed cat bowls come in a wide variety of colors. While Fluffy probably doesn't care too much about the color of her bowl, choosing something that blends well with your color scheme or other pet accessories certainly doesn't hurt.
Water fountain: PetSafe Drinkwell Pagoda Pet Fountain
Getting enough water is vital to your cat's digestive and overall health. A pet water fountain will ensure that every sip is always crisp, clean, and refreshing.
Cat probiotics: Nutramax Laboratories PROVIABLE-DC Probiotics for Cats
Giving your cat a suitable probiotic can help improve gut health, aid digestion, and boost immunity.
Interactive cat toys: Friends Forever Interactive Cat Laser Toy
Playing with toys can help alleviate boredom, a common cause of overeating in indoor cats. Having a tough time motivating a flabby feline? Interactive cat toys like this one often prove irresistible.
Inexpensive: Regular slow feed bowls made of plastic and silicone lick mats start at $6 to $10.
Mid-range: Silicone lick mats in packs of two, large regular slow feed bowls, and some puzzle feeders can be purchased for around $10 to $20.
Expensive: Want only the very best for your feline prince or princess? Ceramic slow feed cat bowls, elaborate and entertaining puzzle feeders, and automatic cat feeders will set you back anywhere from $20 to $40.
“Scarfing and barfing” generally occurs when large amounts of dry food are ingested too quickly and swell to an unmanageable size in the stomach.
A. Yes. Wolfing down food doesn't give your cat's stomach much time to signal the brain that it's full. Reducing the speed at which your cat eats solves this problem, and most felines will automatically eat less than they used to. However, exercise is also important, so be sure to crack open your kitty's toy box to encourage physical activity as well.
A. If your kitty is particularly stubborn or impatient, you certainly won't want to serve up its supper in a miniature replica of the Labyrinth of Crete. Opting for a simpler model, such as a dome-shaped slow feeder, can help reduce frustration and bolster your cat's "hunting" confidence.
A. Many slow feed bowls are suitable for both cats and dogs. However, models that are designed for large dogs or simple slow feed dog bowls might not pose much of a challenge for your cat. If you're interested in a slow feed dog bowl, it's a good idea to take a closer look at the ridge pattern and size specs before you buy.
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