Reduced back pain, better digestion, healthier eating—when owners see these big benefits claimed, it’s no wonder they turn towards elevated food and water bowls for their cats. These bowls are usually raised so their bottoms are between 4 and 6 inches off the floor. But is the difference as big as the manufacturers say?
The truth is, no studies are showing whether elevated bowls are better for cats. Although we don’t know for sure whether these bowls are the best choice, there are still reasons to consider these bowls, especially if you have a senior kitty.
Possible Benefits of Elevated Bowls
Even though there haven’t been any scientific studies about elevated or raised cat bowls, we can still look at some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of these bowls. Just remember that health claims should be taken with a grain of salt for now.
By raising your pet’s bowl a few inches off of the floor, you’re making it so that your cat doesn’t need to lean down to eat and drink. This might improve your pet’s posture overall or reduce strain. Just like hunching over a computer can cause lumbar pain, it’s possible that spending too much time leaning down to drink at floor level might be straining muscles.
This change of posture also means that cats with joint pain, arthritis, or other mobility issues might be more comfortable eating at an elevated bowl. Many vets have begun recommending these bowls for senior pets who are starting to get a little stiff.
Finally, some manufacturers claim that elevated bowls reduce indigestion or vomiting by changing the angle your cat is eating and drinking to aid the movement of food into the stomach.
Potential Drawbacks of Elevated Bowls
Although these benefits sound great, there are some other things to consider as well. Elevated bowls might be less convenient for the owner, depending on the design. Poorly designed bowls can be top-heavy or difficult to fill, leading to more spills. They also might not be ideal for kittens and smaller cats.
Whether cats prefer elevated or traditional cat bowls varies from cat to cat. Some seem to enjoy eating food that’s higher up, but others don’t. Some cats eat more quickly from elevated bowls as well, which is generally considered less healthy. If your cat is eating too quickly, a puzzle bowl or delayed feeder might be a better option.
The biggest argument against elevated bowls is that they’re mostly unnecessary. Manufacturers talk about traditional food bowls making cats eat and drink from “unnatural” angles. However, in the wild, cats drink from in-ground puddles and streams and usually eat food from the ground as well. If your cat doesn’t have mobility issues or joint pain, it’s unlikely that the time spent eating is enough to cause strain.
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Elevated bowls can be a great choice for some cats. If your cat has joint pain or other mobility issues, it’s worth a try to see what your cat prefers. But these bowls also aren’t a silver bullet. An elevated food bowl isn’t a replacement for proper medical care, and it might not be the most comfortable choice for every cat. Depending on your cat’s preferences, you might end up going right back to your old bowl.
Featured Image Credit: Elayne Massaini, Shutterstock