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How Cats Eat

by | Jun 18, 2021 | Cat Behavior & Care | 8 comments

How cats eat and their cat bowl preferences seems the next logical post in a series of blogs that have covered how dogs eat, as well as how cats hunt. The cat that must hunt for his food typically catches small game like mice, rats, or rabbits, crouches over the kill, and swallows small prey headfirst, fur, feathers and all. If the cat is able to rarely nab a bird, it may be plucked first to remove obnoxious tail feathers. Rabbit-size prey are eaten more slowly.

cat huntHow Cats Eat

The cat’s teeth are designed for a carnivorous lifestyle. The dagger-shaped canine teeth are used to kill, while the tiny incisors across the front of the jaw pluck feathers or skin from the prey. Rather than chewing, cats shear off manageable portions of food with their molars, then swallow these chunks. The specialized teeth are located in the side of the cat’s mouth, so Kitty typically tilts his head to the side while eating. Nibbling with incisors and licking with his rough tongue rasps off smaller pieces.

Cats tend to be intermittent feeders, or grazers—rather than gorgers (like dogs). Healthy cats eat several small meals throughout the day. A typical meal of dry food might consist of half a dozen kibbles or so—about the nutritional value of a mouse. That’s why I prefer to feed Karma-Kat with feeder like the Doc & Phoebe No Bowl solution. It mimics the way cats hunt. Some food-obsessed cats gobble food, though, which can lead to problems.

how cats drink

How Cats Drink

To drink, the cat uses his water-absorbent tongue curled into a spoon shape. Kitty laps up liquid creating an efficient bio-mechanical process that creates a column of liquid they swallow before gravity sucks it back into the bowl. They swallow after every four or five laps. Larger cats lap more slowly than smaller cats to adjust for the size/process.

A bowl of clean water should be available at all times. A water fountain may be an ideal solution–especially to keep cats from drinking from the toilet! Learn more about kitty drinking technique in this post.

Why Cats Hate Cold Food

Cats relish food that is body or room temperature—the same as prey. Food cooler than this may be refused, or even vomited when eaten cold, so always allow refrigerated foods to warm before serving. A few seconds in the microwave often helps, but don’t overheat.

Do your cats prefer room temp foods or will they gnosh on refrigerated items? For a while just due to easy storage, I kept Seren’s dry food in the freezer and she didn’t seem to mind.

Some cats share food bowls with no problem, but dinner time is less stressful when everyone has his own place. When you have more than one cat, feed them in separate bowls some distance apart to help avoid confrontations.

how cats eatCAT BOWL PREFERENCE

Several bowl choices are available, from trendy designer crockery to paper plates. Consider what the cat likes before making your choice.

Cats dislike chasing a lightweight bowl over the floor. They are turned off by a dirty or smelly dish. Longhaired and flat-faced cats prefer shallow bowls that allow them to eat to the bottom without bending their whiskers or getting their face messy.

Plastic bowls tend to hold odors, are hardest to keep clean, and their light weight allows them to slide around the floor. Some cats may suffer skin problems like acne resulting from plastic food bowls.

United States-made ceramic bowls are better choices because of their solid weight and ease in cleaning. The glazes in ceramic bowls manufactured in some foreign countries, though, may contain lead.

Heavy non-breakable glass bowls are also good choices, and cats may drink more water from glass containers because they like the taste. But care must be taken if the glass is breakable.

Stainless Steel Cat Bowl, the Cats Meow

Stainless steel bowls are the choice of veterinary clinics because they are easily sterilized and are non-breakable. The FrostyBowlz is one of the best products I’ve seen, in which the insert can be frozen to keep food and water chilled and fresh. See what Seren thinks of the bowl, below. Some cats object to the taste of water or food offered in such containers, though. You may need to experiment before finding a safe, practical alternative for your cat.

What sort of bowl or dish do you serve to your cats? Do they care or are they persnickety? Do tell!

 

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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

8 Comments

  1. Brenda

    We’ve been feeding Oscar on saucers at least since he has been switched to wet food — maybe before I think. Today’s is a U.S. made Corelleware one. Sometimes U.S. made china saucers have been used. He prefers clean saucers for sure. His water bowl is plastic and probably should be replaced with a stainless steel.

  2. Andrea Dorn

    I’ve learned after decades of living with cats that all water bowls must be in either the bathtub or the sink. This is because my cats have always loved scooping the water out of their bowls and playing with it! Right now I keep three large bowls in the tub, one small one in the bathroom sink and one in the kitchen sink.

    Oh, and so many of them prefer to drink water direct from the faucet. My bathroom faucet dripped for a long time before I got it fixed. Now the cats sometimes jump up there and just stare at it perhaps wondering what happened 🙂

    • Amy Shojai

      Andrea, Seren has always enjoyed the drippy faucet, too. With her I think it has a lot to do with interaction at the sink…she knows what to expect when we’re in the bathroom, and can hang out, get attention, AND get a drink all at one place.

      Fortunately she doesn’t play with the water. 🙂

  3. Patricia Hubbard

    My indoor cats use stainless steel bowls for their water and dry food and use throw-away bowls for their wet food. They all get along well when eating but do not like cold food and thank goodness for the microwave to sometimes take the chill off. Now of course if it’s ice cream or milk, that’s a different story. I swear if Thomas is in another room and he hears the cap come off the milk here he comes running meow meowing all the way. I usually give him a couple drops so he knows he had some. He’s got ears like a elephant. Very interesting about their teeth and the specific things they use them for. Oh yes, many years ago I came home from work and apparently a mouse had got in and my gift was part of a foot and tail. Ugh! Of course they wanted to be praised. Great review on the FrostyBowlz.

    • Amy Shojai

      Patricia, isn’t that funny how they don’t want SOME kinds of food to be cold…but the ice cream or even yogurt is fine. lol!

  4. Bruce

    thanks for the information Amy this article is very interesting, I usually put the food bowl close to the drinking bowl. and provide meals 3 times a day

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Personalized Pet Bowls Review | Amy Shojai's Blog Personalized Pet Bowls Review | Bling, Bitches, and Blood - [...] an honest review…or rather, the pets would. After all, I’d already written about how cats eat as well as…
  2. How Cats Hunt: Feline Hunting Behavior Explained - […] groom herself before claiming the prize. Then, she’ll carry the prey to a well-sheltered area to eat. Like your…
  3. Food Obsessed Pets: Here's Why Pets Gobble Food & What to Do - […] specific breed of a cat doesn’t appear to play a role in feline gobblers. Refer to this post on…
  4. Sick Kitty: What to Do About Anorexia When Pets Won't EatAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] important to know your individual pet’s routine and preferences. Read about how dogs eat and how cats eat for…
  5. Why Do Pets Suck? Learn Why Dogs & Cats Nurse On ObjectsAMY SHOJAI'S Bling, Bitches & Blood - […] Suckling is natural for kittens. Learn more about how cats eat in this post. […]

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