Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
Why is my cat picking up food with her paw and eating it outside her dish?
Siouxsie: I know this is going to sound really weird, Kwantos, but there’s this thing called whisker stress.
Thomas: You see, our whiskers are super-sensitive. They grow out of special hair follicles with lots of nerve endings, and the messages we get from our whiskers can tell us all kinds of things.
Bella: But the flip side of this amazing sensitivity is that if our whiskers are pressed against the side of a dish, it can be annoying and possibly even painful.
Siouxsie: So if you feed your kitty in a small or deep dish, the pressure on her sensitive little whiskers can make eating out of that dish very uncomfortable.
Thomas: Sure, this whisker stress thing seems like just another silly thing invented by marketers to sell specialty bowls, but I promise you it’s quite real!
Siouxsie: Mama feeds us in wide, shallow bowls so we don’t have to worry about that annoying nonstop tingling we feel when our whiskers are rubbing the sides of our dishes.
Bella: I wish Mama would feed me in a shallow dish.
Siouxsie: Well, if you wouldn’t vacuum up your food in 15 seconds flat, Mama wouldn’t have to give you that “slow down, kitty” bowl. Maybe you should try not being so greedy.
Bella: Maybe you should try not eating in my special room. The other day, Mama fed you in my room and I didn’t know what to do with myself! I cried and cried and I couldn’t even eat my food because she put you in there!
Siouxsie: Maybe Mama was trying to give me a break from you and Thomas so I could actually eat something before I got shoved away from my supper.
Bella: Well, if you weren’t so slow, maybe we wouldn’t have to help you with your dinner.
Siouxsie: Help, my left rear paw! You try scarfing down food when you’re missing six teeth and see how fast you eat! *grumble*
Thomas: Come on now, ladies, be nice. Now, Kwantos, pulling food out of a dish and onto the floor is a key sign that your cat is feeling whisker stress.
Siouxsie: Another sign is that once your cat’s dish is half full, she might sit next to it or pace, meowing piteously. And you humans laugh about that! How cruel!
Thomas: If your cat is like this guy in the image on the right, try getting him a shallower dish and see if she actually finishes her meals.
Bella: Also, when you choose bowls for your cat, please choose glass, ceramic or steel. Plastic dishes quickly fill up with very tiny scratches which can harbor bacteria and other nasties.
Siouxsie: Some vets believe that the bacteria and allergens present in plastic dishes can contribute to feline acne.
Thomas: Feline acne can range from a few blackheads on the chin to lots of very painful and ugly inflammation.
Bella: So, Kwantos, try feeding your cat on a plate or in a very shallow and wide dish, preferably made of ceramic, glass or steel, and see if that solves your cat’s food-fishing issue.
Siouxsie: How about you other readers? Do you have a cat that fishes food out of his or her dish? What have you done to try to solve this problem? Now that you’ve read this article, are you planning to replace your cat’s bowl? Let’s talk in the comments!
Chase always thinks starvation is imminent if he can see the bottom of the bowl. All is well otherwise. All ceramic and steel bowls.
Ms. Sam Adams (there was a mistake made when she first came to live with me) has never liked to finish the food in her bowl. And I don’t think she ever has. She eats but not all her food, and then she’s finished. Next time I just add a little more. When the bowl gets too full, I empty it and start from the beginning. I’ve tried everything I can think of. On the other hand, Clyde who went over the bridge close to ten years ago, used to take his food out piece by piece and eat the corners off and leave the rest on the floor. We never could understand it, but because he was CLYDE, it was perfectly fine.
I have a foster cat whose done this since I’ve known him. I gave him food without a bowl, and food on a small plate. Both times he continued to knock 1 off the pile and eat it. Could it be related to getting enough food as a kitten?
You are so right about food dishes. You are wonderfully smart to give this advice. Our meowmy finally discovered that flat dishes are so much easier for us to use, especially when she serves us raw chicken. We would also like to add that white dishes can be ever so much safer since some dyes in plates can potentially be toxic. Thanks for the purrfect suggestions.
Since cats use their tongues to eat and drink, I always wash the saliva from their dishes and bowls before every meal. They seem to appreciate it! – Jerry