There seems to be a lot of different opinions among owners about the most suitable household location for cat food and water bowls. Some like to put their cat’s feeding bowls in the kitchen, while others use their utility rooms or hallways.
Where to Put Cat Food and Water Bowls
No matter which location you choose, the most important thing is to make sure the bowls are easily accessible for your cat and in a stress-free, low-traffic location.
You should also ensure that your cat’s feeding area remains permanent (most of the time), in order to avoid stress and/or disrupt his feeding habits.
Why Food and Water Bowl Placement is So Important
Before we delve further into some of the best locations for your cat’s food and water bowls, let’s begin by asking a fairly obvious question. Why is food and water bowl placement important?
The answer of course is that choosing the right location means that your cat will feel comfortable enough to eat his food and drink his water.
In turn, this will mean that he’s receiving the right amount of nutrition to ensure a healthy life. Remember too that felines are notoriously fussy eaters as it is – the last thing your cat wants is a stressful dining experience.
If he finds your chosen feeding spot to be unfavourable, he may go looking for another food source, possibly at somebody else’s house.
Ever had a neighbour’s cat sneak into your house and eat your pet’s food? A poorly-chosen feeding location might be the reason why.
OK, so this is probably a worst-case scenario. Chances are that your cat will just wait until his feeding area is free from noise or distractions and return when nobody’s around.
Nevertheless, the best option is to find a location where he can feed throughout the day.
Choose a Quiet Location
With the above in mind, you’ll therefore want to select a quiet area that allows your cat to feed without interruption or stress.
This means a low-traffic spot in your house. The room or location you choose will depend on your family dynamic.
Some owners choose the kitchen, despite it often being the central social hub of their household. If you lead a peaceful home life, then the kitchen may well be a good option.
But for those of you with large families, you may want to think of another location, so that your cat doesn’t get his tail trodden on.
With that said, if your kitchen has a dining table, you could place the bowls underneath it. This would allow your cat to avoid the traffic and eat without being disturbed.
Utility rooms tend to be a good option if you have one. As well as being away from busier parts of the house, cats often have positive associations with unwashed laundry.
This is because they’re able to detect their owner’s unique scents on the clothes.
Some online sources recommend the hallway. Not sure about this one. Unless you receive visitors around the clock then yes, your hallway might be a good place to put your cat’s feeding bowls.
Though having them in the reception area of your house may be a bit off-putting for guests. Also bear in mind that cat food can emit a rather striking aroma at times.
If you’re happy with the scent permeating your house and you really don’t care what your guests think, then go for it.
A porch could be a great location for a feeding area if you’ve got a cat door that connects to it. It’s away from busier areas of your house and thus quieter.
The same goes for garages too. Like porches, garages are the kind of domestic spaces that we only use when we absolutely have to.
So it follows that your private indoor parking area could be a very suitable location for your cat’s food and water bowls. Just ensure that you place the bowls out of harm’s way.
Can I Move My Cat’s Food Bowls?
Once you’ve settled on a feeding location, you should stick to it. Known to be creatures of habit, cats will follow specific patterns each day in order to feel safe and secure.
So changing your cat’s feeding area might confuse him and may even cause anxiety. It also has the potential to disrupt his eating and drinking habits.
There are however some exceptions to this rule, as we’ll see later.
Be sure to put your cat’s feeding bowls in a different location to the litter box. When in the wild, cats defecate in areas away from their nests.
Unsurprisingly, this instinctive behavior remains present in housecats. Having a litter box in close proximity to a feeding area will merely serve to confuse your cat and may disrupt both his feeding and toilet habits.
Given felines’ superior sense of smell, it’s also likely that the scent of excrement might overpower the scent of the food.
Then you’ve got the possibility of food contamination. Some cats shake off litter material with their hind legs as they exit a litter box.
If the feeding bowls are nearby, there’s a chance that they’ll become contaminated by litter particles. Should contamination occur, your cat might turn his nose up at his food/water or become unwell.
But how far away should cat food be from a litter box? This is completely down to your own discretion. We’d suggest keeping them in separate rooms.
When space is an issue, try placing them in opposite corners of the room.
Should Cats Water Be Near Their Food?
Feline behavioral experts have found that cats don’t actually like to smell their food while drinking.
It is thought that cats learnt to eat, drink and defecate in different areas when in the wild. Presumably, this behavior is designed to put off predators.
And if there are food particles floating in their water, your cat is probably going to seek refreshment elsewhere. So how far apart should your cat’s food and water be?
Well, as a general rule of thumb, try to keep both bowls at least a few feet apart.
Should My Cat’s Food Bowl Be Elevated?
Much has been made of the apparent benefits of elevated food and water bowls. It’s claimed that they can aid with digestion, prevent vomiting and help with gastrointestinal issues.
The problem is that the claims haven’t yet been subjected to scientific research. Unsurprisingly, most of these alleged benefits are trumpeted by the manufacturers. As it stands, there’s no definitive answer.
Thus, we’d recommend that you don’t spend too much time worrying about this one. Ground-level placement is going to be just fine, unless of course you’ve got a dog that likes to sample your cat’s dinner.
Where to Put Cat Food When You have a Dog
If you also own a dog, you might want to consider moving your cat’s food and water bowls to a place that’s inaccessible to the dog.
Placing them in an elevated position such as a table, window sill or shelf is certainly an option.
Alternatively, you could purchase specialist equipment to ensure your cat’s feeding habits aren’t disrupted.
Cat Food and Water Perches/Shelves
Sold by most good pet outlets, these perches are a great way to keep your greedy dog at bay. They’re basically wall-mounted shelves that offer plenty of space for placing food and water bowls.
Microchip Cat Feeders
If you’re not all that keen on mounting a dedicated feeding perch, a microchip pet feeder might be worth considering.
Similar to how microchip cat doors work, a microchip pet feeder only unlocks when it successfully reads your cat’s microchip. They’re not cheap though – expect to pay over $100.
Dog-proof gates can prove extremely effective at blocking access to your cat’s feeding zone. Given how agile cats are, the gate wouldn’t be much of an obstacle. Not so for your dog!
You could also put your cat’s food bowls in an enclosed space such as a cat house. The entrances of many cat houses are too small for dogs to use.
Multiple Cat Households
If you own multiple cats, its good practice to allocate separate feeding bowls for each feline. Cats are solitary creatures that like to hunt alone in the wild. This is contrast to dogs that are essentially pack-hunters.
Because of this, cats tend to be defensive of their food. More often than not though, this won’t cause confrontation during mealtime.
Provided your cats co-exist peacefully and/or you’ve introduced them properly, you’ll probably be able to feed them in the same area.
If they’re not crazy about each other though, a separate feeding location might be required. This is especially the case if you’re putting one cat on a diet in a multi-cat household.
Transitioning to a Second Location
Any sort of confrontation between your cats indicates that a second feeding area is going to be necessary. Should you decide to make the move after your cat has already used a specific area, you’ll need to make the change in stages.
To avoid confusion, keep the cat’s bowls in the old feeding zone, while adding replacement dishes in the new one. Once he’s fed from the new location, remove the bowls from the previous feeding area.