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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Why is my cat picking up food with her paw and eating it outside her dish?

~ Kwantos

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.

Meme: Food dish is half empty: starvation is imminentSiouxsie: 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!

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