Tips for Setting up Your Cat’s Food and Water Bowls

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Your cat looks forward to mealtime. In addition to carefully considering what you'll feed them, it's important to think just as carefully about where they'll feast. The wrong location could make eating a frustrating experience for your cat. But the good news is you can find the perfect spot by following some basic guidelines.

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The best locations for cat food bowls

The best place for a feeding station is a quiet area in your home where your cat feels both at ease and aware of what's going on around them — without being bothered by it.

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If your cat tends to get anxious when people walk near them while they're eating, choose a spot without foot traffic. Some cats might even enjoy eating their meals on a large window sill or wall perch so they aren't on the ground.

If you have other pets, such as dogs, that might pester your cat or steal their food, the ideal location can ensure all of your pets are eating the right food in the right amounts. Again, putting your cat's bowls in a high spot that other pets can't reach may be a good option.

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The goal is to find one or more places where your cat can eat their food without feeling rushed or disturbed. You might need to try a few different areas, or your cat might lead you to a particular spot where they'd like to eat. After you've found a location that works, avoid changing it. Since cats are creatures of habit, feeding them in different areas all the time isn't recommended.

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Keep cat food and water bowls in separate areas

When it comes to the location of water for your cat, the same rules apply. But it's also a good idea to separate your pet's food and water bowls rather than use a double bowl, as this ensures the food won't end up in the water. Plus, cats don't like smelling their food while they drink, so that's another reason to keep the bowls in separate locations.

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Placing more than one bowl of water throughout your house can ensure your cat will always have easy access when they get thirsty. For instance, you might put a water fountain in one room and a water bowl in another.

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Choose a spot that’s a good distance from the litter box

It should come as no surprise that cats don't like eating or drinking near their litter box. Be sure to keep your cat's "bathroom" away from their water bowls and food dishes. That way, your cat won't smell the box, and there won't be a risk of litter or waste getting into the bowls.

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Feeding multiple cats? Use different locations and separate bowls

In a multi-cat household, see whether your cats like eating next to one another. Some cats might be fine with it, but others might prefer eating in their own space.

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If you find that there are conflicts at mealtime or one cat is always trying to eat another one's food, separate them. That way, they'll have privacy. This might also involve putting them on opposite sides of the room or in different rooms.

Even if your cats don't mind eating or drinking near each other, you should always use separate bowls. That way, each cat can get the appropriate amount of food they need.

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Choose the pet bowls carefully

It's also wise to consider the types of bowls you're using. There are several options available in pet stores, and each has its pros and cons.

Stainless steel bowls can be a good choice because they're durable and easy to clean. Ceramic bowls can be easy to clean and long-lasting, too, but they can also chip or crack. Or, you could use glass bowls, but keep in mind that they need to be handled carefully — to ensure they won't shatter.

Plastic bowls might seem convenient because they're less likely to break if you drop them, but they could be harder to get totally clean and could become damaged with cracks or scratches. Also, some cats develop feline acne from the use of plastic bowls.

No matter what, shop for products made of high-quality materials that are safe for pets and free of lead, BPA, and other toxins.

The bottom line

Carefully choose where your cat eats, especially if you have a busy family, kids, or other pets that could make mealtime stressful. Of course, the feeding area should be clean and sanitary. But bear in mind that cats prefer to eat and drink in areas that are peaceful. Keeping food and water bowls away from each other is also a great idea. Don't forget to evaluate the quality of the bowls and dishes you use to feed and hydrate your pet.

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