Are Plastic Bowls Bad for Cats? Yes! Here's Why...

When you search for a cat bowl, you will quickly become overwhelmed by the plethora of options. Which cat bowl material is best? Plastic, ceramic, glass, or stainless steel?

According to the 2019-20 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey, 44% of cat owners use food and water bowls that are made of plastic. Although a lot of people use them, plastic cat bowls are bad and not recommended for cats.

Stainless steel is actually the best material for cat bowls, and our cats use these stainless steel cat bowls. Here's why...

Dangers of Plastic Cat Bowls

Cat with plastic bowl

Plastic cat bowls can leach harmful chemicals, harbor bacteria, and cause medical issues. Surprising, right? 

Harmful Chemicals from Plastic Can Leach into Cat Food

Many plastic containers and bowls contain toxic chemicals such as phthalates or Bispehnol A (better known as BPA). These chemicals can transfer or leak from plastic into food through a process called leaching.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these toxins have been found to damage the liver, kidneys, and other organs, and cause reproductive issues in women, men, and other animals. Very scary!

While most studies about the effects of plastics, phthalates, and BPA have been on humans and rats, it seems likely that cats would also be vulnerable to many of the same negative effects.

Since plastic cat bowls are subject to daily use, are exposed to high temperatures in the dishwasher, and may also be sitting in sunlight, they may be prone to leaching and should be avoided. 

Plastic Cat Bowls Cannot be Fully Sanitized

Along with the potential danger of BPA and other chemicals leaching out of the bowl into your cat’s food, plastic cat dishes also harbor bacteria which can put your cat’s health at risk. Many cat owners do not clean their pets’ food and water bowls frequently enough. Learn more about how often to clean your cat’s bowl in a previous article we wrote.

But even frequent and thorough cleaning cannot get all of the bacteria out of plastic bowls. Plastic bowls develop tiny cracks and scratches that are impossible to fully sanitize. Even if the bowl's surface gets cleaned, bacteria can remain inside these tiny crevices. This means that despite your best efforts, your cats can still be at risk of ingesting leftover bacteria—a scary thought!

Cat with plastic bowl

Cats Can Develop Feline Acne

Cat acne is a medical condition which results in inflammation and the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, bumps, and lesions on a cat’s chin, face, and surrounding area. Plastic bowls are the main cause of cat acne, as the bacteria within the scratches and cracks of plastic food and water dishes can aggravate a cat's skin.

Fortunately, cat acne can be treated, but it can occasionally lead to further infections. So, if your cat has acne, stop using your plastic bowls and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss medical treatment.

If Plastic Cat Bowls are Bad, What Kind of Cat Dishes Should I Use Instead?

Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences shared that “Plastic food dishes tend to harbor microbes, so we recommend that owners switch to metallic dishes and clean them daily.”

Stainless steel is the best and safest material for cat food and water dishes. Thanks to its non-porous surface, stainless steel doesn’t scratch or crack to harbor bacteria like plastic and ceramic. Also, it isn’t breakable like ceramic or glass.

Recommendation: Use Stainless Steel Cat Bowls

For our own cats, we use these stainless steel bowls from Americat Company which are made in the USA from U.S. stainless steel. They are made in a facility that also makes medical and cooking products, following the strictest safety protocols. These bowls are certified free of lead and other radioactive metals. I know our cats are safe eating and drinking from these bowls!  

Cat eating from stainless steel cat bowl


Cats love to lick their bowls to get every piece of food! They eat and drink from their bowls multiple times a day every single day. So, we encourage you to think carefully about the bowls you serve your cats. Our cats are a part of our families, and they deserve the best!

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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