Should You Raise Your Cat’s Food Bowl? The Pros and Cons


There has been an ongoing debate among cat owners and veterinarians about whether elevated food bowls are beneficial for cats or not. On one hand, some claim that elevated bowls can help prevent whisker fatigue and slow down fast eaters. On the other hand, others argue that elevated bowls may increase the risk of bloat and are not necessary for most cats.

Proponents of elevated bowls say that the height helps keep cats’ whiskers from bending when they eat, reducing stress and discomfort. For gulpers and gobblers, raising the bowl could slow their speed to promote better digestion. However, critics point out the lack of scientific evidence for these benefits. There are also concerns that elevated bowls may increase swallowing of air, raising the risk of potentially deadly gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), or bloat.

Overall, there is no consensus on whether elevated bowls should be used for all cats. Opinions differ on the validity of the potential benefits versus the risks. Many veterinarians recommend assessing each cat’s needs on a case-by-case basis to determine if an elevated bowl would be advantageous. This article will explore the debate further, outlining the pros and cons and expert opinions on elevated cat bowls.

Potential Benefits of Elevated Bowls

Elevated cat food bowls may provide some potential benefits for cats, especially as they age. One of the main advantages of elevated bowls is that they can put less strain on a cat’s joints and neck while eating and drinking. This is because elevated bowls allow cats to approach and eat from their bowls in a more natural, upright position. Cats generally eat with their necks extended and their chins close to the floor in order to see their food. Eating from bowls set on the floor requires cats to bend down and crane their necks, which can put stress on their joints over time.

By raising bowls a few inches off the floor, cats can stand in a straighter, more upright and relaxed position while eating. This takes pressure off their necks, shoulders and backs. Elevated bowls also prevent cats from having to bend as far to reach their food, reducing strain on their hips, knees and ankles. For senior cats or those with arthritis or other joint issues, eating from elevated bowls can make mealtimes much more comfortable and prevent further joint damage from straining into uncomfortable positions.

Prevents Whisker Stress

One potential benefit of elevating a cat’s food bowl is preventing whisker stress. A cat’s whiskers are highly sensitive tactile hairs that provide spatial awareness and help cats detect air currents. When a cat’s whiskers brush against the sides of a bowl on the floor, it can cause stress, discomfort, and make it more difficult for the cat to eat.

An elevated bowl lifts the food higher so a cat’s whiskers don’t touch the sides when eating. This allows cats to relax and eat comfortably without their whiskers getting irritated or overstimulated. With a raised bowl, cats don’t have to manipulate their whiskers to avoid contact with the bowl and can simply focus on their meal.

For many cats prone to whisker stress from low bowls, an elevated food dish can be a simple solution to make mealtimes more relaxed and whisker-friendly.

Slows Eating

Using an elevated bowl can help slow down a cat’s eating speed, which provides several benefits. Eating too quickly can lead to vomiting, regurgitation, and choking. Elevated bowls place a cat’s mouth at a more natural angle in relation to its stomach, allowing food to move more slowly into the stomach and giving a cat more time to properly chew (Best Cat Slow Feeders). This slower pace may prevent overeating by giving a cat’s brain more time to receive the signal that its stomach is full.

Elevated bowls are designed to manipulate the speed and angle at which a cat eats in order to slow it down. The tilted angle requires a cat to work against gravity, forcing it to eat at a more natural pace. Slow feeder bowls often have mazes, patterns, or obstacles inside to achieve the same effect. These changes in speed and effort allow a cat to feel full while eating less. An elevated bowl may be especially helpful for cats that gobble down food too quickly.


While elevated bowls come with several potential benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

Elevated bowls can be messier and harder to keep clean. Food and water placed higher up are more likely to get knocked over or spilled, creating more of a mess on the floor. Cleaning up fallen food and water can be tedious and time consuming. With a bowl on the floor, messes may be more contained.

Some cats may also have trouble getting used to an elevated bowl, especially if they are accustomed to floor feeding. The unfamiliar height could discourage some cats from eating or drinking normally. Additionally, elevated bowls can be a tripping hazard for cats and humans moving around the home.

According to one source, elevated bowls may promote faster eating in some cats, which can potentially lead to digestive issues like vomiting or bloating (source). Owners should monitor their cat’s eating speed and habits carefully with a raised bowl.

Overall, elevated bowls require a bit more effort to keep tidy and may present an adjustment period. Cats and owners alike will need to get used to the new setup. While messy and inconvenient at times, elevated bowls can still be worthwhile for many cats if used properly.

May Cause Bloat

Some vets argue that elevated bowls may increase the risk of bloat in cats. Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with air and twists around itself, cutting off blood flow. It is more common in large, deep-chested dog breeds but can occur in cats as well.

The exact causes of bloat are not fully understood. However, vets hypothesize that elevated bowls may promote faster eating and swallowing of air, potentially contributing to bloat. The height of some elevated bowls may also require cats to crane their necks downwards, possibly putting pressure on the esophagus and stomach.

However, there is no definitive research linking elevated bowls to bloat in cats. Some vets recommend taking precautions like monitoring your cat’s eating habits and avoiding exercise immediately after meals. Slow feeder bowls may also help reduce air swallowing. But other vets maintain elevated bowls can be used safely in most cats if properly introduced.

Not for All Cats

While elevated bowls can be beneficial for some cats, they are not recommended for every feline. Shorter cats or seniors with mobility issues may struggle to reach elevated bowls. The extra height requires them to stretch upwards more to eat and drink, which could potentially cause muscle strain or discomfort, especially for cats with arthritis or joint problems. Older cats often have a harder time jumping up to higher spaces as well. Kittens and smaller breed cats may also lack the height needed to easily access raised bowls.

Veterinarians generally advise keeping food and water bowls on the floor for senior, disabled, or very small cats. Bowls can be gently elevated by an inch or two if needed to aid digestion, but they should not be so high that the cat has trouble accessing meals. Owners should monitor their cat’s comfort and ease of access. If the cat seems to be struggling, it is best to lower or remove elevated stands. While raised bowls serve a purpose for some cats, they are not one-size-fits-all and should be used with caution in elderly or petite felines.

Vet Recommendations

Most veterinarians agree that elevated food bowls can provide significant benefits for cats. According to, elevated bowls help prevent whisker fatigue by allowing cats to eat without bending over and uncomfortable pressure on their whiskers. The natural upright body position also aids digestion. Veterinarians recommend elevated bowls to prevent vomiting, gas, and other digestive issues caused by fast eating from bowls set on the floor.

However, as pointed out by, elevated bowls may not be suitable for all cats. Cats with medical conditions like megaesophagus are at higher risk of bloat and aspiration pneumonia. Kittens and senior cats may also face increased risk. Veterinarians advise cat owners to monitor their pet’s health closely when transitioning to an elevated bowl.

Types of Bowls

Elevated cat bowls come in a variety of materials and designs. Common materials include plastic, stainless steel, ceramic, and glass. Stainless steel and ceramic bowls are often preferred for their durability and ease of cleaning. Plastic bowls may be more affordable but are more prone to scratches over time.

Bowls may be elevated on a stand or have an attachable rim to raise them off the floor. Stands are often made of plastic, stainless steel, or bamboo. They raise the bowl anywhere from 2-12 inches off the ground. Stands with adjustable heights allow you to customize the height for your cat.

Attachable rims clip onto existing bowls to lift them up. They are usually made of plastic or silicone. Rims raise the bowl 2-3 inches. They can be useful for raising your cat’s current food dish without buying an entirely new product.

When choosing an elevated bowl, consider your cat’s needs. Materials, adjustability, and ease of cleaning may be deciding factors. Measure your cat’s height while eating to determine an ideal bowl height as well.


When evaluating whether or not to use an elevated food bowl for your cat, weigh the pros and cons carefully. Elevated bowls can help slow down greedy eaters, prevent whisker fatigue, and possibly reduce vomiting. However, they may also increase the risk of bloat and are not suitable for all cats.

Consider your cat’s individual eating habits and sensitivities. An active, fast-eating cat is more likely to benefit from an elevated bowl than a slow, grazing eater. Kittens and cats who vomit frequently may also see improvements with elevated bowls. Check with your veterinarian if you are concerned about bloat or other conditions.

Make sure to transition your cat slowly to a new bowl and monitor them for any issues. Start with a slight elevation of just a few inches. Only use bowls designed specifically for pets to prevent tipping. While elevated bowls work for some cats, they are not mandatory for all. Pay attention to your cat’s needs and preferences.

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