I’ll be the first to admit that the term whisker fatigue might sound a little out there at first.
But when you stop and consider just how powerful and sensitive your cat’s whiskers really are it’s no surprise that they aren’t going to be comfortable shoved inside a food bowl.
Heck, whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect changes in wind currents that are made by nearby prey. Yep, they’re that powerful.
However, your cat can’t turn their super-sensitive whiskers off and whisker fatigue occurs when a cat has to constantly push their head into a bowl in order to get their food or water. Most food and water bowls are surprisingly deep and while that may help keep food in the bowl it also requires your cat to have their whiskers pushed against the sides during mealtime.
It’s also worth noting that in the wild, your feline friend’s wild ancestors wouldn’t have had this problem. When they’re chasing down a mouse or other small mammal, their whiskers would be unhindered and free to do their thing.
That means whisker fatigue is a primarily modern problem but luckily we’ve got plenty of modern solutions in the form of beautifully designed bowls that give cats some much-needed whisker relief.
We’re going to go over the basics of whisker fatigue, how to pick the best bowl along with reviews for each of our favorites. But if you just want to skip ahead and see what made the list you can check out our favorite whisker fatigue bowls here:
- Best Food Bowl: CatGuru Whisker Relief Cat Bowl
- Food Bowl Runner Up: Dr. Catsby’s Food Bowls for Whisker Relief
- Best Water Bowl: Dr. Catsby Whisker Friendly Water Bowl
- Water Bowl Runner Up: CatGuru Whisker Friendly Water Bowl
- Best On A Budget: Lorde Cat Bowl for Relief Of Whisker Fatigue
- Best Elevated Whisker Relief Bowl: NECOICHI Raise Whisker Relief Bowl
- Best High Capacity Cat Bowls: VENTION Stainless Steel Whisker Relief Bowls
What Does Whisker Fatigue Look Like?
While both of these habits are often chalked up to strange cat behavior, and sometimes that’s completely true, in many other cases it’s just a cat’s way of solving the problem on their own. If your cat’s whiskers are bothering them because they’re rubbing against the bowl, then eating kibble off the floor is an easy solution for whisker relief.
In other cats, you may find them a bit more irritatable around mealtime and many will take this irritation out on other pets. Then there are cats that will show more subtle signs and may spend a few moments staring at their food bowl as if they’re debating the pros and cons of diving into the bowl.
The final clue lies in how your cat actually eats- or more specifically what the food bowl looks like when they’re done. The Two Crazy Cat Ladies have a great example of this in the video below where they show how many cats avoid eating food on the edges of the bowl potentially to avoid stress to the whiskers.
Check it out:
Consider A Proactive Approach To Whisker Fatigue
Even if your cat doesn’t have a noticeable change in behavior that you think is related to whisker fatigue, it’s still a good idea to take a more proactive approach and set them up with a comfortable food and water bowl.
As the folks at Cornell Unversity explain, our cats are experts at hiding their pain, illness, and discomfort so just because your cat isn’t on a tear at food time doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling some level of discomfort related to whisker fatigue.
Besides the need to make a new purchase, there’s really no downside to taking a proactive approach and setting your cat up for maximum whisker comfort.
What Makes A Food or Water Bowl Good For Whisker Fatigue?
With the basics of whisker fatigue out the way, let’s take a closer look at what makes a bowl good for whisker fatigue in the first place. These are the same factors that went into picking the best bowls for this list.
Shape, Depth, and Design
This is, of course, the most important factor when picking out a whisker-friendly bowl! In order to provide relief to the whiskers, bowls need to be shallow enough that cats don’t have to bury their heads in to reach what’s inside.
But bowls also need to be wide enough on the sides so that there’s plenty of room for whiskers to wiggle around.
You’ll notice that every bowl on this list matches this description to a tee and it’s an absolute requirement for picking out a proper whisker fatigue bowl.
Easy To Clean
In most cases, this is a given when it comes to a whisker relief cat bowl. That’s because these bowls are usually designed specifically to be wide and shallow which leaves very few nooks and crannies for cat food to get stuck in.
For some folks, the ability to throw a cat bowl into the dishwasher is an absolutely requirement so you’ll also be happy to know that every bowl on this list is dishwasher safe.
Cat Safe Material
Cat bowls, including those for whisker relief, come in all types of materials and some are clearly better than others. We’re going to include bowls made from several material types but in general, stainless steel is your best bet.
Plastic can work in a pinch but not only can it be easily scratched which creates crevices for bacteria to hide in but plastic is also a common culprit for causing chin acne.
If you aren’t sure what type of material makes sense for you, I’d generally recommend stainless steel. It’s easy to clean, looks good and unlike ceramic or plastic won’t develop cracks and cut where bacteria can hide. Stainless steel is sometimes a favorite of picky eaters too since it doesn’t hold taste and smell like plastic can.
One of the biggest complaints people have with whisker relief bowls is that they just don’t hold very much. While that’s not the purpose of these bowls, it is just part of having a wide and shallow design.
I’ll be making a note of how much each food or water bowl can hold but make sure you keep this in mind and compare it to what you’re already using. If this is a big concern to you, check out the last set of bowls on our list which can hold up to 56 ounces!
Elevated From The Floor
This isn’t a requirement as much as a consideration but there are several benefits to elevating your cat’s food and water bowls including improved comfort and possibly even improved digestion. It might not need to be a deal-breaker but since we’re already looking to address the problem of whisker fatigue it’s worth considering other ways to make our cats comfortable.
Luckily, you don’t have to choose between an elevated food bowl or whisker fatigue bowl and we’ve got options that can help with both on this list.
Do I Really Need A Whisker Relief Bowl?
It’s a fair question.
After all, if you take a close look at any bowl designed to prevent whisker fatigue you’ll probably notice that it also looks a lot like a plate. Which will lead some folks to question if they need a bowl at all.
First, when it comes to water, a whisker relief bowl just makes more sense. It’s certainly possible, but not always easy to find a bowl that has the shallow and wide specifications that we’re looking for. Bowls like that just don’t have many purposes for human use so they can be hard to find which makes a whisker relief water bowl an easy choice.
However, you can find plenty of small plates that will be shallow enough to be used as a whisker relief food bowl and it may solve many of the same problems that the purpose-built bowl will.
But you are going to lose the ability to pick a specific type of material as most plates are made of ceramic. Ceramic isn’t the worst material for a cat bowl but some folks will prefer to go with something extra sturdy and easy to clean like stainless steel.
The other issue is simply the design of plates vs cat bowls. Some folks won’t care but a plate will look a little strange on the floor and cat bowls are designed to look clean, cute, and simple.
Finally, even though the risk of anything negative happening is pretty low, some people won’t want to eat off a plate that their cat previously licked clean.
If none of these issues are a big deal to you, then you can absolutely go the plate route. But for me, I’d rather have a purpose-built bowl for my cat instead of having to share the dishes with my feline friend!
Won’t Whisker Fatigue Bowls Make A Bigger Mess?
Every bowl designed for whisker fatigue will feature lower sides and an overall shallow design. As a result, some people may be concerned that these bowls will cause a bigger mess.
For some cats, this is true. But if your cat is knocking kibble out of their bowl in order to manage their own whisker fatigue then picking out a whisker relief bowl will actually make less of a mess since you’d be solving the problem for them.
If cats are messy eaters already, they may make even more of a mess when they use a whisker fatigue bowl but it’s still not worth making them uncomfortable just to control some spills! Instead, if you’ve got a messy cat consider adding in a pet-friendly mat under your cat’s bowl.
You’ve got a ton of options to choose from but this pet-food mat on Amazon is one of my favorites and it’s very easy on the budget. Not only will it let you easily scoop up food when needed but it will also help keep food bowls in place.
Mess problem solved!
Best Whisker Friendly Bowls
With all the background information out of the way, let’s take a look at our favorite whisker fatigue food and water bowls!
Best Food Bowl: CatGuru Whisker Relief Cat Bowl
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This whisker-friendly food bowl from CatGuru has everything we’re looking for in a whisker relief bowl along with some nice extras.
First, I love that’s it’s made of stainless steel. That means it’s easy to clean by hand or you can easily toss this into the dishwasher. Stainless steel is resistant to just about everything and unlike plastic or even ceramic, it won’t form any cracks or scratches. Not only do scratches and cracks look bad, but they can actually house bacteria that can be almost impossible to get out over time.
Stainless steel also looks great and while some folks may prefer the cuter designs like some of the other bowls on this list, you can’t deny the clean look of stainless steel.
The folks at CatGuru also attempt to solve the biggest problem with whisker fatigue food bowls and that’s kibble slipping and sliding all over the place. They’ve added a series of ridges that help prevent kibble from rolling out of the bowl. It won’t stop cats that are determined to knock their food around but it will decrease spillage from messy eaters.
Overall, the ridges are pretty darn effective and it’s great to see a bowl that’s addressing the biggest problem within the world of whisker-friendly bowls.
If you check out some of the images on their Amazon page, you’ll notice that the bowl is elevated in some of them. That’s with the help of a separate cat guru product that you can check out here. While I’d love to see it come standard with the elevation option, it’s still nice to see that you can get a purpose-built add-on for lifting the bowl off the ground.
Overall, it’s easy to see why the CatGuru bowl made the top of the list and as if all those features weren’t enough, it’s also backed up by more than 2,500 five-star reviews on Amazon.
You can check out today’s price and read some of those reviews on Amazon by clicking here.
Food Bowl Runner Up: Dr. Catsby’s Food Bowls for Whisker Relief
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The biggest name in the whisker-friendly cat bowl market is Dr. Catsby. This company seems to make one thing and one thing only: whisker relief cat bowls.
They do a great job with it and like our best overall, they feature a clean stainless steel design that’s easy to clean in the dishwasher or by hand. Their bowl also includes a large silicone mat that goes a long way to keeping the bowl in place.
So why are they the runner-up instead of the number one pick? Two reasons.
First, this a premium brand with premium pricing. You get what you pay for and this is high-quality stainless steel but there are other budget options out there including our best overall pick.
Second, unlike our best overall pick, the bowls are completely smooth which doesn’t help manage messy eaters. Some people may not even notice this difference but for others, this could be a deal-breaker as the ridges on the CatGuru bowl really can help.
Despite those small differences, this is great a solid choice and you really can’t go wrong with a Dr. Catsby bowl. You can read more reviews and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Water Bowl: Dr. Catsby Whisker Friendly Water Bowl
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It shouldn’t be any surprise to see another Dr. Catsby brand bowl at the top of our list. But instead of a runner-up, they’ve taken the top spot when it comes to water bowls.
That’s because Dr. Catsby is one of the few brands to offer a stainless steel water bowl and we’ve already talked about how stainless steel is a great option because it’s easy to clean, resists scratches, and will last for years to come.
The water bowl is still shallow, as you’d expect from any whisker relief bowl but holds 12 ozs should be enough for most cats, especially if you have multiple water locations which most cats prefer.
Instead of having a silicone edge to keep the bowl in place, Dr. Catsby uses a large mat that’s the same size as the actual bowl. This can really help keep the bowl in place as some cats seem to love splashing around in the water.
Much like the food bowl, this simple, clean and high-quality stainless steel bowl is absolutely great! You can read more reviews and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Water Bowl Runner Up: CatGuru Whisker Friendly Water Bowl
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Even though it has a large overall capacity, I had to put the CatGuru bowl in the runner-up spot simply because it doesn’t come in a stainless steel option.
Which is surprising since the stainless steel food bowl was our best overall! Instead, this CatGuru bowl is made from BPA-free melamine plastic.
As I’ve already mentioned, melamine may stick out in your mind if you had a pet during the 2007 pet food recall since melamine was the main problem. However, there’s a big difference between the melamine that was found in pet food and the form that’s used for dishware. Despite the risk being extremely low, or even potentially non-existent, I’d always go with stainless steel over plastic when possible.
This CatGuru bowl is still a great option, and easy on the budget. It’s wide enough to keep whiskers happy but still deep enough to get more water capacity than our best overall. It’s also dishwasher safe!
You can check out more reviews, peak at the color options, and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best On A Budget: Lorde Cat Bowl for Relief Of Whisker Fatigue
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If you’re looking for a balance of affordability, value, and whisker relief it’s hard to go wrong with this option from Lorde.
This matching set of two also has a lot more style than we’ve seen for far and instead of plain stainless steel we’ve got matching colorful cat-shaped designs. The ridges are a little higher than you’d typically see in a whisker relief bowl but they’re still low enough to be comfortable for most cats.
The slightly higher ridges also have some benefits and the bowls hold 8 oz each which is around 3 oz more than our best overall pick.
The only downside here is the material. While the plastic is BPA-free (which is important) and much better than many other options out there it is made from melamine which will still raise some eyebrows for some cat parents.
If melamine sounds familiar, you could be remembering the 2007 pet food recall where it was found in pet food. There’s a BIG difference between a melamine bowl and directly eating the stuff and the FDA has said that melamine is considered safe when used for dishware.
However, I wasn’t able to find anything that specifically looked melamine bowls in cats but it’s fair to say that the risk is generally quite low. If you want to play it safe, stick with one of the stainless steel options above.
But if you’re comfortable with the material and you want a cute, colorful, and budget-friendly set of whisker relief bowls then these make a great option. You can read all the reviews and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Elevated Whisker Relief Bowl: NECOICHI Raise Whisker Relief Bowl
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Elevated feeding has been popular in the dog world for many years, in part because of the potential benefits it may have in prevently the deadly GDV.
But even though cats don’t suffer from GDV, elevating your cat’s food bowl can have a whole host of benefits. From making felines feel more comfortable when they chow down to potentially even reducing the dreaded post-meal puke, it’s worth adding an elevated option for your cat.
With this cute NECOICHI you can both elevate your cat’s food and alleviate any whisker fatigue, all in one simple package!
This bowl sits 4.1 inches off the ground which should be just right for most cats and is made from ceramic. In terms of material, ceramic is usually a great option but if this bowl ever cracks it’s a good idea to replace it.
Like all the other bowls so far, this option is also safe for the dishwasher which means cleaning a breeze.
In terms of sizing, the bowl holds around 6 oz so it’s not massive but enough for most meals and still enough for water.
You can read more reviews and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best High Capacity Cat Bowls: VENTION Stainless Steel Whisker Relief Bowls
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The biggest complaint that most people have around whisker fatigue bowls is that they’re just too small. Unless you’re free-feeding your cat, this usually isn’t a problem for food when it comes to water many people will find that 12 oz or so just isn’t enough.
That’s where these high-capacity bowls from VENTION can help! They offer 6 different diameter options and the largest diameter can hold a massive 56 ounces.
Okay, maybe 56 ounces isn’t huge in the world of standard cat bowls but when it comes to whisker fatigue options it’s gigantic!
As always, I also love that these bowls are stainless steel which really is the gold standard of cat bowl material as far as I’m concerned.
The only downside is that even these are advertised as whisker fatigue bowls, they aren’t are committed to the cause as our best overall picks. In other words, you’ll still find a bit of a ridge on these bowls but the large diameter more than makes up for this and most whiskers (and cats) will be happy.
You can check out all the available sizes and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Whisker fatigue is one of those subjects that can leave cat owners with a lot of questions. Most cat owners have never even thought of it so the fact that you’re actively looking for the best food and water bowls for cats to avoid whisker fatigue puts you in an elite group of cat owners!
Still, we wanted to take some time and answer some of the most common questions we get about whisker fatigue. Check it out!
Q: Is whisker stress the same thing as whisker fatigue?
Yep, these terms both describe the same thing. We honestly think that Whisker Stress is a better description of the condition but the most popular term is whisker fatigue.
Whisker fatigue makes it sound like the whiskers aren’t working when in reality its the fact that the whiskers are working too much! Most people equate the word stress to being overworked which is why we prefer that term.
Q: Does it hurt a cat to lose a whisker?
If the whisker falls out normally (which is completely normal) then no it’s not particularly painful. However, if you someone were to remove a whiske by pulling it would absolutely be painful and uncomfortable for your cat.
Q: Should I avoid touching my cat’s whiskers?
You don’t need to do anything special to avoid touching your cats whiskers. In most cases, your cat has complete control over whether or not they want their whiskers to interact with the world so they’re able to manage this on their own.
The big problem arises when they have to choose between whisper stimulation and eventually stress or food. So while your cat probably doesn’t want you to pet their whiskers every day, you don’t need to do anything special to avoid touching them.
Q: Would cutting my cat’s whiskers help?
No! Don’t ever cut your cat’s whiskers! We’ve heard from several cat owners who came with this idea to manage their cat’s whisker fatigue but your cat needs their whiskers! Removing your cats whiskers would be like taking away or greatly dulling one of your senses. Sure, you could still navigate in the world but if you lost your sense of touch, hearing or sight in an instant it would be stressful and scary!
Q: Why does my cat have one black whisker?
This isn’t unusual! The same way that humans can grow multiple colored hair with slight variations so can your cat with their whiskers. For another example, take a look at your cat’s feet (if they’ll let you). Many cats have different colored pads! For example, my cat Debbie has a mix of pink and black pads at the bottom of her feet! It’s very cute!
Q: Is whisker fatigue a real thing?
Absolutely! While some might think the idea of “tired whiskers” sounds far fetched the fact is whisker fatigue is a real problem that can negatively impact your cat’s behavior. Not only can it make your cat uncomfortable it can eventually affect their mood and appetite.
Q: What does it mean when your cat loses whiskers?
Cat’s shed whiskers just like they shed hair so in most cases it’s a completely normal occurrence. Your cat may shed more (including whiskers) if they’re stressed.
Q: Do cat whiskers have nerves?
Your cat’s whisker is jam-packed with nerves! The tip of your cat’s whisker also features a sensory organ known as a proprioceptor which helps your whiskers do all kinds of amazing things including sensing changes in air current from movement.
Q: Why do cats only eat from the middle of their bowls?
While it can vary between cats, whisker fatigue or stress is one of the more probable explanations. In order to reach food on the edges of the bowl, cats really have to push their whiskers against the side of the bowl which can make whisker fatigue worse. It’s typically more comfortable to eat from the center of the bowl where whiskers have more room.
That fact that you’re even considering picking up a whisker relief cat bowl puts you light years ahead of most cat owners! And even though your cat can’t say thanks, we’re pretty sure your kitty will show their appreciation in a hundred other ways!
I hope this list of the best food and water bowls for cats to avoid whisker fatigue helped you find the perfect bowl!