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!


35 thoughts on ““Whisker Fatigue” Could Be the Cause of Your Cat’s Finicky Eating

  1. I’ve never heard of this before! One of my cats sometimes won’t eat out of her bowl, but if I dump it on the table she will eat it. Never had any idea it could be due to whiskers. Just thought she was being spoiled and demanding haha.

  2. Interesting! I’ve never heard of that. I’ll have to be more observant but, thankfully, we’re using shallow bowls. I do like that stainless one pictured. I just might have to check it out! 😸

    1. I am a total cat person but will admit to never having heard the term “whisker fatigue” myself! It does make perfect sense when you think about it, and shallow bowls are an easy fix.

  3. Greetings fellow cat lover! Thanks for sharing this. Good to know. I am a cat lover and we have just rescued three little cuties, Nera, Ebony and Ziggy. I have a poetry blog here on WordPress and today’s poem is about a cat I saw on holiday in case you have time to look? Have a good weekend, Sam 🙂

  4. I buy dog bowls for my cats. They’re about 6″ in diameter and heavy earthenware so they don’t move around as much. And they can fit their faces in the bowl to eat without feeling crowded. Cat food dishes are just too small.

    1. I agree about the size of cat bowls, so small! We have two large breed cats that definitely need big bowls. Their water bowls are dog bowls and we put their food on flat plates.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.