How Many Food and Water Bowls Do I Need Per Cat?

You don't want to run out of cat bowls! It's important to have enough bowls per cat. Plus, clean bowls help cats stay healthy. 

In this article, we'll help you figure out how many cat food and water bowls are best for your home!

Cat eating

Ideal Number of Cat Food Bowls Depends On:

  1. How many cats you have
  2. The types of food each of your cats eat
  3. How often you clean your cat bowls
  4. Whether your cats have any unique needs

Answer the 4 questions below to learn how many cat food bowls to have on hand per cat.  

1. How Many Cats Do You Have?

Give each cat their own food bowls, so they don't compete for resources (aka food), and so you can customize and monitor each cat’s food intake.

Tip: Cat Food Bowls Per Day = At Least the Number of Cats

These are our favorite cat bowls and what we use in our home!

Cat bowl on placemat

Here are the reasons we strongly recommend that each cat eats from their own cat food bowl: 

Cats instinctively prefer to eat alone: In the wild, outdoor cats hunt alone and eat alone for multiple small meals each day. 

Indoor cats also prefer to eat alone: Just like outdoor cats, indoor cats prefer eating away from other cats in separate locations, not shoulder to shoulder. Therefore, they need separate bowls. 

Reduce conflict among cats at home: According to the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine, “the most common cause of conflict between indoor-housed cats is competition for resources." Food is one of the most important resources. 

Honor different eating styles: Some cats eat all their food at once (like Lewie), and other cats are grazers (like Bella). Sharing bowls may force a grazer to scarf down all their food in a rush. Or your less dominant cat may be afraid to approach the shared bowl and go hungry. 

Cat eating from stand

Accommodate different diets: Bella is on a prescription kidney diet, and Lewie is on a regular indoor cat diet. So, they need separate bowls for their different foods.

Feed different amounts: Each cat in your house probably doesn't need the same amount of food. Customize portions depending on their weight and age.

Monitor eating habits: If your cat's appetite changes, it could be a sign that they're not feeling well. To monitor their eating habits accurately, use separate bowls and keep track of how much each cat eats per day.

If you need more bowls, we recommend these stainless steel cat bowls!

2: Does Your Cat Eat Wet Food, Dry Food or Both?

If your cats solely eat wet or dry food (and not both), you'll need 1 bowl per cat. But, if your cats eat a combination of wet and dry food, the number of bowls you need depends on the answers to these two questions: 

  • Does each cat like a mix of wet and dry food in the same bowl?
  • Or does your cat prefer wet food in one bowl and dry food in another (like those of us who don’t like our foods touching)?

If you're not sure, try feeding your cat wet food and dry food in separate bowls one day. Then, experiment with mixing them together another day. Observe what your cat likes best!

Tip: Cat Food Bowls Per Cat = Number of Different Foods Eaten in Separate Bowls

Cat eating from bowl

In my home, both Bella and Lewie primarily eat wet food. But they get a small amount of dry food as a treat.

Bella is a grazer. She prefers dry food by itself, not mixed. So, she gets a bowl for wet food and a separate bowl when it's time for a kibble treat.

Lewie (above) lived outside as a stray before we rescued him and loves food any way. He gets wet food and dry food in the same bowl.

Therefore, I need 2 bowls per day for Bella (1 for wet food and 1 for dry food), and 1 bowl per day for Lewie. We use and love these cat bowls.

3. How Often Do You Wash Dishes?

Think of the saliva and crumbs left behind after your cats finish eating. Bacteria can begin to feed on those leftovers and contribute to sickness.

Therefore, either wash your cats' food bowls daily or give them new bowls each day. 

If you’re washing cat bowls by hand each day, you may not need extra sets. But, if you’re using a dishwasher or not hand washing daily, you’ll need additional sets. That way, cats can eat while dirty bowls are waiting to be cleaned.

Learn more about how to clean cat bowls here.

Tip: Number of Days Between Running Dishwasher or Hand Washing = Number of Additional Sets Needed Per Cat 

    Cat eating from bowl

    I run my dishwasher every other day, so I need at least 1 extra set of cat bowls. Since I use 3 cat food bowls per day, that means I need at least 6 cat food bowls per week.  


    • If leftovers have been sitting out for several hours, it’s best to wash or change bowls before the next meal to reduce the risk of bacteria growing. Don't keep piling new food on top of old food - gross!
    • If you feed a raw food diet, clean, or replace the bowl with each meal for safety to prevent Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.

     4. Do You Have Extra Cat Bowls?

    Tip: Have extra bowls per cat - you never know when you'll need them!

    Here are some examples when extra bowls come in handy: 

    Cat eating from bowl

    A new medical condition: Illness, disease, and aging may cause your cats to become pickier about food. Sadly, this happened to my Bella after she was diagnosed with severe heart disease. Some days she'll eat all her breakfast. Other days she won't touch her favorite flavor.

    When this happens, she gets a buffet of wet and dry food and different flavors so she can eat whatever she is in the mood for. This means lots of bowls, but the most important thing is that she eats!

    Find or adopt a cat suddenly: A feral cat started visiting my mom’s yard. We began feeding her, so we could trap, spay, and vaccinate her. We suddenly needed more bowls, so having extras at home saved us time!

    Ideal Number of Water Bowls:

    We recommend having at least 2 water bowls in your house. That way, if one spills, is dirty, or is being used, there is always extra water.

    Place cat water bowls in different rooms or on different floors in your home. 

    Do You Need More Cat Bowls?

    We hope this article has helped you figure out how many cat bowls you need to keep your cats well fed and well hydrated. If you've discovered that you need more, pick a bowl that is safe and non-toxic, like these cat bowls from Americat Company.

    Cat bowls

    Bella and Lewie love their stainless steel cat bowls! They are made in the USA, human grade, and foodsafe. Plus, they are dishwasher safe and durable. Even after years of use, they still look brand new!

    About Us: Americat Company is where love for cats meets American craftsmanship. Founded in 2016, we are a cat-loving, woman-owned, small business. We make cat products in the USA from safe, durable, U.S. materials. Shop all our made in the USA cat products here.

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