August 31, 2016

There has been a lot of recent innovation in the cat bowl category with the spotlight on functionality that takes into account certain specifics pertaining to felines, from feline whisker stress to their finicky eating habits and penchant for leaving food in their bowls to nibble on later.

And, much of this innovation was fueled by the old adage that necessity is the mother of invention.

Combating Whisker Stress
Loren Kulesus, cat owner and designer of the Dr. Catsby’s cat bowl, came up with the design of his stylish cat bowl after watching his own cat consistently pawing food out of the bowl to eat on a flat surface.

“I discovered that he didn’t like his whiskers touching the sides of his cat bowl and further learned that this was a common cat problem,” said Kulesus at this year’s Global Pet Expo, where he introduced his design to the industry at large.

Kulesus went to work with a 3-D printer to formulate his design, which features a slightly curved stainless steel bowl which allows gravity to “focus” the food in the center of the bowl (instead of being pushed over the sides in the course of eating). The bowl sits on a rubber mat to prevent its sliding around and has a special “finger hole” for easy pick up off the mat.

Beco Pets, a Britain-based manufacturer making inroads into the American market, has produced a selection of whisker-friendly bowls made from their proprietary plant fiber materials sourced primarily from bamboo and rice husks.

“The wave design helps with long whiskers and allows cats to dip into the bowl comfortably to eat,” said Toby Massey, Beco Pets cofounder and design director, who designed the bowls. “The wide design is tailored to cats’ typically wider and flatter facial features. The natural surface of the Beco bowl also provides a uniquely mottled matte texture making these products a particular favorite with cats, who are known not to enjoy extra shiny or gloss surfaces.”

The bowls are dishwasher safe and ultimately biodegradable.

The Drinkwell Sedona fountain by PetSafe is designed with brachycephalic (flat faced) pets in mind, with its large oval shape making it easy for pets to drink from the water surface as well as the fountain water inlet.

“The large see-through bowl holds 100 ounces of water and the design also minimizes spills and splashes,” said Sarah Beene, category manager of water and feed. “Also, the sound of the falling water is whisper-quiet, making it easily approachable by apprehensive pets.”

“The Drinkwell Platinum remains one of our most popular models amongst cat owners because it offers a falling water stream which, for many cats, attracts them and encourages them to drink more water,” she added.

Preventing Waste and Mess
Sureflap, the British manufacturers of the Surefeed Microchip bowl, have introduced their new motion-activated Surefeed Sealed Pet Bowl to the US market. This compact design opens when a pet approaches and closes when they are through eating, producing a tight seal that keeps food fresh longer.

“We conducted research in the United Kingdom that showed that cat owners waste 33 percent of wet cat food a year,” said Piers Hampson, marketing manager for the company. “Many cats are reluctant to return to eat food that has been standing out. The design of this bowl seals off the food, maintaining freshness for longer periods and keeping it free of flies.”

The bowl is designed for single cat households and doesn’t rely on a cat’s microchip or a collar tag to activate. It has a training mode to allow the lid to open in staggered training increments to introduce a cat to the system, can be used with different colored bowls and the bowl’s oval design takes whisker stress into account. It is even easier to train cats to use than their original design, which has the overhead plastic strip that contains the microchip readers.

For many cat owners who like to create a food station for their cats that offers both food and water bowls, the Loving Pets’ Bella spill-proof mat is an option. The fish-shaped mat has scale-like ridges to contain food spills and is designed for the placement of three stainless steel Bella bowls.

Throwaway food bowls that work within a bowl frame, such as the Kinn Kleanbowl with paper inserts that are removed from the bowl and discarded after each meal, are gaining popularity amongst cat owners. There are several systems now on the market, as well as freestanding biodegradable disposable pet bowls. Currently, many of these designs are sold in channels other than pet specialty. Retailers should keep these in mind and consider adding them to inventory if their popularity continues to rise.

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