Cats are famous for being picky eaters, but the reason behind this may not be the brand of cat food you bought. Many cats also like to fish pieces of food out of their bowls and eat them off the floor…but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re just playing with their food. If your cat is exhibiting some odd eating behaviors, the culprit could be “whisker fatigue.”
Whisker fatigue is the term used by veterinary experts to describe the stress and discomfort your cat feels when his sensitive whiskers rub up against the sides of a food bowl. A recent article about whisker fatigue in The New York Times sheds some light on this little-known issue. Your cat’s whiskers are highly sensitive, like antennas, and pick up signals from the environment that can be as subtle as a light breeze.
What happens when your cat’s whiskers rub on her food bowl while eating? Many experts describe it as a stressful feeling, sort of like sensory overload. The solution is surprisingly simple. Choose shallow food dishes instead of deep ones, and make sure your cat’s water bowl is as shallow as possible.
The article points out that you can use a flat dish you already have, or buy a bowl with shallow sides specifically designed for whisker fatigue. One company mentioned in the article called Dr. Catsby makes a wide, shallow stainless-steel bowl with a non-skid bottom. Stainless is also preferable to plastic or ceramic because it is less porous and inhibits the growth of bacteria (a primary cause of feline chin acne).
Just like dog bowls that are made for dogs of different sizes, and long or flat faces, your cat’s bowl should be whisker-friendly too!