Eat Better: Do Special Food Bowls Help?

There are many ways to enhance the living quality of your cats. Improving the eating experience of your cats is one of them. How about changing to a special food bowl? This time we compared the ordinary bowl with two special designed bowls for cats and see how different they are.

中文版:

理想優質貓生活:食好啲!特製食物碗有否幫助?

A new dining experience

Generally, cats eat clean food and drink fresh water with appropriate sized bowls is enough to live healthily. But some cats may have special needs as they are of special breeds or in very young and old age. There are bowls designed especially for their needs,  in order to promote their appetite and improve their health. Thus the living quality of cats might be further improved by a new dining experience.

Despite the mouth of cats is well engineered to consuming their preys(their food) on different height, some bowls with elevated design can help them to eat more easily. Elevated bowls can reduce the muscle stress and the pressure to the joints while the cat is eating or drinking. They are always recommended for the old aged cats which are more likely suffering pain from arthritis.  These bowls are believed to be one of the methods to relieve the pain and promote the health of cats.

So we bought two new special bowls from the shops and compared them with a cheap ordinary porcelain bowl. We with our 7 months old kitten tried them all and the following will tell you the details.  Are these specially designed bowls can help eating better? Does the kitten love to use them? Why are these special bowls priced so high? Hope you will find your answers.

– 1 – Ordinary Porcelain Food Bowl

Dimension:  (W)110mm x (D)110mm x (H)40mm (Approximate)
Capacity:~185ml
Wright:176g
Origin:Japan
Price:HK$12

The first we tried is an ordinary porcelain food bowl for man use bought from a local department store. It is made of thin porcelain and glazed. It does not come with any package and we just found a very brief product information listed in the store telling us it is Japan made.  We do not know if it is heat resistant or microwave oven safe. We have no intention to use it for cooking purpose as we seldom serve our cats with hot food. So I think it is okay to use it as a cat food bowl too.  As its whole surface is glazed, we can clean it easily with detergent and warm water.

Advantages:It would be the most economic choice if your cat does not have special needs. It is light in weight and can be cleaned easily.

▲It is also suitable for cat use though it is an ordinary food bowl for man. What to be taken considered for choosing a suitable cat bowl are the size and depth of it. Generally, a widely opened and low profiled bowl is more appropriate. The acuter of the angle made by inner bottom against the wall is better as it facilitates delivering food into the mouth effectively.

Ordinary Porcelain Food Bowl  Introduction and Tests

▲It is more difficult to eat the small round kibbles with the smooth inner bottom surface. The kitten tried hard to push the food into the mouth. It caused the spill of some food whatever it is dry or wet.  (Please be reminded that cat needs time to chew and swallow the food, so you can see it stopped eating for a while consecutively in the clip。)
Test Group A: Eating 10 small round kibbles: 2 spilled
Test Group B: Eating 10 disc like kibbles:0 spilled
Test Group C: Eating 1 teaspoon wet food:Slightly spilled

– 2 – HARIO NYANKO Plate PTS-NYL
(NYAN Plate for long haired catにゃんプレロングヘア PTS-NYL-DBU)

Dimension: (W)135 × (D)90 × (H)42mm (Approximate)
Capacity: 30ml
Weight:211g
Origin:Japan
Price:HK$199 [¥2,000(Tax not included)in Japan]

HARIO is a Japanese brand and has a long history in producing glasswares. Hario has not only expanded its product lines to the glasswares for household uses, but also to the market of pets.  They produce bowls and plates for cats and dogs, some of them for dogs are made by famous Japanese Porcelain Craft “Arita” (ありたやき). Talking back to this cat use plate  PTS-NYL, it is a shallow plate with special design. Its three sides are lowered to fit the head of a long-haired cat, thereby the coat can be kept tidy whilst eating cheerfully. The most sophisticated is the uneven inner bottom surface.  Unlike smooth surface,  kibbles do not slip while the cat is scooping the kibbles by its tongue. Cats can grab every kibble more firmly and experience a happy meal even with the common dry commercial food.

Advantages:Obviously, this Hario plate can help cats eating more effective than the ordinary one.  Microwave oven and dishwasher safe. Heat resistance up to 120°C.

▲The cartoon box holds the plate safely 。

▲The lowered side can fit the cat’s head better . Especially long-haired cats may feel more comfortable when they are dining with this plate because the facial coat is less likely to touching the plate.

▲As many cat owners know, cats have to push the dry food kibbles into their mouths by the tongue. It is quite strenuous sometimes for cats. The flat bottom is finished with embossed lines, with this uneven surface cats might grab the dry food more effectively.  In our tests, it certainly functioned.

▲The design works like raising the kibbles up and stopping the kibbling from rolling.

▲The bottom of the plate is not glazed but it can provide friction.

▲To avoid the sliding during eating, the mat is a must. It is included in the package and claimed to be heat resistant (180°C).

▲Using the anti-slip mat.

▲This plate is made in Japan and its quality is also reflected in the pricing HK$199. Is it a value buy? It all depends on how could your cats benefit.

▲Made of material Porcelain. Microwave oven and dishwasher safe.

▲Manufacturer produces two models “PTS-NYS” and “PTS-NYL” for short-haired and long-haired cats respectively. The short-haired model has a higher profile. As British Shorthair has medium length coat, we thought the long-haired one could do better with our cats.

HARIO NYANKO Plate Introduction and Tests

▲Our kitten ate the tiny round kibbles much faster than the ordinary one. Either eating dry food or wet food with this plate, spill still occurred with our kitten. But it is interesting that the kitten could get better noticed of the spilled food and ate them all. It was perfect in the test eating the disc-like kibbles that no food spill occurred. (Please be reminded that cat needs time to chew and swallow the food, so you can see it stopped eating for a while consecutively in the clip。)
Test Group A: Eating 10 small round kibbles: 5 spilled 
Test Group B: Eating 10 disc like kibbles:0 spilled
Test Group C: Eating 1 teaspoon wet food:Slightly spilled

Product website:http://www.hario.com/seihin/productdetail.php?product=3PTS-NYL-DBU

– 3 – 猫壱高腳貓用食物碗
(Necoichi Raised Food Bowl [Cupcake])

Dimension: (Diameter)110 x (Depth)30mm [Bowl]
(Diameter)90 x (Depth)40mm [Foot] (Approximate)
Capacity: – ml
Weight:271g
Origin:China
Price: HK$168 [¥1,490(Tax not included) in  Japan]

This elevated bowl is named “Necoichi Raised Food Bowl (Cupcake)” (「ハッピーダイニング 脚付フードボウル カップケーキ」). Necoichi is a Japanese brand focusing on pet utensils. It just looks like a bowl raised up by an additional foot. We think it also looks like an antique Chinese “oil lamp” that was commonly used in the past, the time when electricity and light bulbs had not been applied. It also looks like an aroma candle diffuser, but it is totally made for cats.

This bowl is claimed to be heat resistant and safe for microwave oven and dishwasher.  The manufacturer also produces other bowls in different sizes. They have different patterns printed on the surface in similar design, a bowl with a foot.  The purpose of elevation is to reduce the pressure on the muscles and joints of cats when they are eating, especially the neck and forelimbs. As cat’s head is kept in a higher position when eating, it might help cats swallowing the food too. Old cats would benefit from this design more , we think.

The other featured function of this specially designed bowl is the “anti-spill” bowl edge. The thickened edge is said to be useful to stop the food from spilling out when eating. Our kitten tried it and found that this function is really working with wet food. But for the dry kibbles especially the small round ones, food spill still occurred with our kitten.

Advantages:Both elevated bowl height and thickened bowl edge make this product functional and are believed to be beneficial to cats. Though it is China made but we are impressed with the quality. The glazed surface of the porcelain is thoroughly smooth and clean. The bottom of it is even enough to allow standing firmly on the floor.  

▲It looks simple, a bowl with a foot.

▲Necoichi produces different similar bowls. They all look fancy. This one is called “Happy Dining” series.

▲Material used in this bowl is high-temperature porcelain and FDA approved. It is claimed to be microwave oven and dishwasher safe.

▲”Made in China” is printed on the package box.

▲The flat inner bottom of the bowl fits the requirement. The bowl can stand firmly on surfaces with its weight. Our kitten did not cause any movement of it when eating. But, one of our bigger cats overturned it during eating. Some cats might need time to train themselves so as to use it well.  We believe a wider base would improve. Always use it on a safe surface as porcelain is fragile.

▲”Anti-spill” edge is thickened and bent inward, in order to prevent spillage of food. Our kitten tried it and proved that it worked well with wet food.

Necoichi Raised Food Bowl Introduction and Tests

▲With a higher head’s position, the chewing and swallowing movement can be facilitated. So you can see the kitten can eat faster with this bowl.   The “anti-spill” bowl edge worked well when eating wet food, but food spillage still occurred when eating small round kibbles.  (Please be reminded that cat needs time to chew and swallow the food, so you can see it stopped eating for a while consecutively in the clip。)
Test Group A: Eating 10 small round kibbles:4 spilled 
Test Group B: Eating 10 disc like kibbles:0 spilled
Test Group C: Eating 1 teaspoon wet food:None

Product website:http://www.necoichi.com/Products/detail/id=3735

Why porcelain?

There are many choices of cat bowls in the market, you may ask why did we only buy two special bowls for this review? The material, porcelain, is the main reason. We could see a few more special bowls in the shops, but they are made of plastic. You may know that porcelain is the most favorite material compared to plastic as it is easy to clean and resistant to heat. Plastic bowls are more vulnerable to scratches and the users must be knowledgeable in distinguishing whether the plastic bowls are approved for food use. In between porcelain and plastic, stainless steel and lead-free glass wares are also the choices.

But, porcelain is fragile and it is a major disadvantage. So, excessive care is alway taken when handling porcelain bowls. Never use hard brushes to clean the surface of porcelain bowls. In general, the pricing of porcelain bowls is not always higher than that of plastic. The ordinary food bowl reviewed this time is really cheap. However,  shaping and adding functions to a porcelain bowl is not as easy as molding of a plastic one. High-quality porcelain food wares are produced by special crafts which turn to higher production cost. So the porcelain bowls reviewed are not the budget buy. However, they are still durable if handled properly.

Is elevated bowl really good?

In the wild, most felines are able to consume their food(their preys) in everywhere. They can eat on the ground immediately. So, is it necessary to raise the food bowl for cats? It is true that elevated food bowl does not fit their natural behavior if you feed natural food, the bloody flesh, bones, and organs. They have to use all their teeth, jaws, claws and limbs to tear, cut and slice into small edible pieces. Nowadays we commonly feed commercial food that is totally different from the natural food. The dry foods are processed to kibbles and the wet foods are minced and soaked with sauce. So only head part of a cat is involved in having a meal, two or four limbs are in standing posture. It is of course not a total natural habit of cat and it is why many experts think stress is induced to cats. So cats are expected to have better eating experience by specially designed bowls.



▲Feeding postures of Panthera and Felis, as illustrated by N. N. Kondakov

There were many cases of health risks caused by elevated food bowls with some large breeds of dogs. (You can read:How an Elevated Dog Feeder Could Lead to Bloat )。However, such health problem caused by elevated bowl by so far is not heard in the cat population. Some owners and vets are still recommending elevated bowl as it effectively alleviates the muscles and joints pain suffered by pets, especially the old aged dogs and cats. You are suggested to ask for advice from your vets before raising up the food bowls.

Shape of dry food is worth improving

This time our kitten tried the bowls with different cat foods. Accidentally we found that the shape of dry food kibbles would cause variations. We used two kitten formula dry food kibbles separately, round and disc-like. Finally, the disc-like ones did not cause any spill out of all bowls. It showed us that our kitten could grab the disc-like shape kibbles more firm than the round ones. Before the kibbles can be chewed (exactly not chewing as cat’s jaw move up and down only,  it can crush) and swallowed to the oesophagus, they need to be pushed into the mouth by exquisite movement of the tongue, upper and lower jaws. Some cats may use their incisors tactfully. The small round kibbles are more easy to roll after lubricated by the saliva of the kitten and therefore it is harder to grab.  The disc-like kibbles are less likely to roll and they are more easy to be grabbed up.

We understand that smaller kibbles are more palatable to kittens, but the shape of the kibble does matter too. The cat food manufacturers need to put much more effort in it and hope our cats can experience every happy meals!

▲The shape of dry food kibbles does matter too! The disc-like kibbles are more palatable.

This time we used our 7 months old kitten for the tests. She is small and is still not too skillful in eating kibbles with the new bowls. Perhaps a few weeks ago she can eat much better. We will let you know how she does after using the bowls for a long period of time. All in all, eating experience may differ from cat to cat. The above are just examples and you are highly suggested to ask for advice from your vets.

Thank you!

Summary :

 

About the author

Kiwidom Cattery

Cattery specialized in the breed British Shorthair since 2000

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