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Pet parents might not give a second thought to which water bowl is right for their cat. But it turns out that there are a whole host of benefits to making sure your cat stays properly hydrated. The cat’s wild ancestors evolved to get most of the moisture they need through their diet of small prey, so they don’t have a high thirst drive. House cats that eat mostly dry food can suffer from chronic mild dehydration, which can lead to urinary tract and kidney problems, especially as cats age.
Making sure your cat is properly hydrated is one of the best things you can do to promote healthy functioning of their urinary tract, kidneys, and literally every other organ in their body. Just like humans, proper hydration helps flush out toxins, prevents constipation and kidney stones, and keeps their brain and body functioning at optimal levels.
Even when you put out a water bowl, your cat may not readily drink from it. Thankfully, pet goods suppliers have developed a number of different types of water bowls that encourage a cat to drink more water including chilled and heated bowls and even drinking fountains. When choosing the bowl, you’ll also want to consider factors like what materials the bowl is made from, the size and shape and how easy it is to clean.
Below, you'll find the best cat water bowls.
Best Overall: Our Pets Premium Rubber-Bonded Stainless Steel Cat Dish
Dimensions: 6.4 inches diameter x 1.2 inches deep | Volume: 1.75 cups | Weight: 0.2 pounds | Material: Stainless Steel with bonded rubber bottom
Non-skid rubber molded to the bowl
Heavyweight stainless steel
Wide and shallow profile
Made in the U.S.
Could be heavier
Our Pets Durapet Premium Rubber-Bonded Stainless Steel Cat Dish meets all of our ideal criteria for a cat water bowl. It’s wide enough that it won’t tip easily and your cat’s whiskers won’t touch the edges. The stainless steel is resistant to bacterial growth, sturdy, and easy to clean. The bonded rubber bottom stops it from sliding. We like that it is high-quality at an affordable price while also being dishwasher safe and made in the U.S.
Although it could be a touch heavier, it should hold enough water to last one cat for a day and a half or more. It’s also available in 0.75 cup, 1 cup, and 1.25 cup sizes.
Best Budget: Frisco Stainless Steel Bowl
Dimensions: 10.25 inches in diameter x 3.25 inches deep | Volume: 4.75 cups | Weight: 0.75 pounds | Material: Stainless steel with rubber base
Wide tip- and slide-proof rubber base
Made in China
The angled sides and wide rubber base make it difficult to turn over the Frisco stainless steel bowl. A bit larger than our Best Overall pick, this very affordable bowl is a close runner up. It has all the benefits of stainless steel—being easy to clean, resistant to bacterial growth and scratches—while also being wide and shallow just like cats prefer.
The rubber ring is easily removable for easy cleaning in the dishwasher or by hand.
Best Ceramic: Park Life Designs Paris Pet Bowl
Dimensions: 6.25 inches diameter x 2 inches deep | Volume: 2.75 cup | Weight: 0.75 pounds | Material: Ceramic
100% FDA-approved ceramic
Heavy to prevent tipping and sliding
Four decorative patterns available
Bottom is heavy but not non-skid
This beautiful decorative bowl is made of heavyweight, FDA-approved ceramic that doesn’t easily slip or spill. Its durable stoneware is 100% dishwasher- and microwave-safe. Park Life Designs Paris is just one in a collection of glossy “designer” bowls with several tasteful patterns to choose from as well as a 2-cup and 8-cup capacity. With one of these affordable beauties, you can treat your cat like a prince or princess.
The width is just right for cat whiskers and shallow for easy access. Its straight sides and hefty weight keep it from tipping. We love the cheerful designs that blend in easily with all kinds of kitchens, living rooms, and everywhere in between.
Best Fountain: PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Pet Fountain
Dimensions: 14 inches diameter x 9 inches tall | Volume: 16 cups | Weight: 4.3 pounds | Material: Stainless steel with plastic accessory parts
Carbon filtration keeps water fresh
Five water stream options
Fairly quiet operation
A bit more expensive than some others
Extra parts to store
Many cats will drink more water if they have access to a clean fountain. That’s because their species evolved to understand that fresh, cool, flowing, and aerated water will have the least chance of being fouled by bacteria and viruses.
We really like the PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Pet Fountain. We like the large capacity and that it includes a carbon filtration system to keep water tasting and smelling clean and fresh. An additional foam filter protects the motor to make it last. It’s relatively easy to disassemble and most parts are dishwasher safe. It’s built to last, but you can rest easy because a replacement pump and carbon filters are available separately for purchase if you’re in need.
It may take your cat a bit of time to get used to the motion and the hum of the motor, but you’ll have five different water flow options to test to find out the one that makes them the most comfortable and willing to drink.
"We were a little concerned about putting the PetSafe Drinkwell 360 together since it involved a lot of pieces, but the process was simple thanks to the included instruction book. Once assembled, it was simply a matter of filling it with water and experimenting with the spout attachments."—Sharon Lehman, Product Tester
Best Spill-Proof: Modern Artisans Heavy-Weight Splash-Resistant Stoneware Water Bowl for Dogs and Cats
Dimensions: 6.75 inches diameter x 2.5 inches deep | Volume: 3 cups | Weight: 2 pounds | Material: Stoneware clay pottery
Handmade in the U.S.
Heavy to prevent tipping
A little more expensive
Lip is more effort to clean
Your cat might be spilling their water because they’re feeling playful and the bowl is doubling as a toy. But more often, spills happen because your cat is trying to determine how much water is in the bowl. Because they evolved as hunters, cats have good distance and night vision but they tend to have weak up-close vision. So to find out if there is water in their bowl or not, they dip their paw in or push the bowl to create a visible ripple.
You might consider our pick for Best Fountain above, or try out this Modern Artisans Heavy-Weight Splash Free Water Bowl. Not only is this spill-proof bowl super sturdy, it is also weighted and has a lip around the edge to contain any splashes. Pet parents like that it is also easy to clean and built to really last.
Handcrafted “on the potter's wheel from solid stoneware clay” in North Carolina, this bowl is glazed in a chip-resistant, lead-free, food-safe white glaze that’s dishwasher and microwave safe. The inverted curved rim is key to preventing splashes on your flooring, but does take a little more effort to properly clean. For multiple cat households, you can also get this bowl in a larger size that has a 9-inch diameter and a 6-cup capacity.
Best Weighted: Bone Dry Ceramic Dog Bowl
Dimensions: 7.5 inches diameter x 2.4 inches deep | Volume: 3 cups | Weight: 4.6 pounds | Material: Ceramic with silicone bottom rim
Great size and volume
Heavy to prevent tipping and sliding
Non-skid silicone bottom rim
Made in China
The name says it all. Perhaps the heaviest bowl we could find, the 3-cup Bone Dry Non-Skid Ceramic Pet Bowl is a whopping 4.6 pounds so will keep your floors dry because it is impossible for just about any cat to tip or push. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food-safe ceramic bowl itself is resistant to bacterial growth, easy to clean by hand or in a dishwasher and free of lead and bisphenol A (BPA).
It’s available in a variety of classy patterns and colors that can complement your own personal style. You’ll find them as singles or sets of two bowls that are also available in 0.75 and 1.5 cup capacity.
Best Set: Ureverbasic Small Pet Feeding Bowls, Set of 2
Dimensions: 4.7 inches top diameter, 5.9 inches bottom diameter x 1.4 inches deep | Volume: 1 cup each | Weight: 0.35 pounds | Material: Painted stainless steel bowl and silicone ring
Available in a variety of fun colors
Removable silicone non-skid ring on base
A bit small and lightweight
Paint can come off with scrubbing
Many cat bowls are sold in matching sets with cute colors and designs that can be coordinated with your home decor. PetFamily’s Ureverbasic Non-Skid Stainless Steel Cat Bowls are available in a wide variety of cute color combinations.
Pet parents like the durable stainless steel and wider base with a silicone ring that prevents tipping and sliding. Perhaps the only downside of this set is that you have to be careful when washing not to use abrasives that might scrub off the paint. Similarly, these bowls are only dishwasher safe if you remove the silicone ring and avoid a high heat setting.
Because cats don’t like smells near their water, veterinarians recommend keeping food and water at least three to five feet apart or more.
Best Heated: Farm Innovators Heated Stainless Steel Pet Bowl
Dimensions: 13 inches diameter x 4 inches deep | Volume: 12 cups | Weight: 2.4 pounds | Material: Stainless steel and plastic
Stainless steel interior surface
Chew resistant cord
Thermostat with auto shutoff
Works below zero
A bit large for one cat
Must hand wash
If you have barn cats or your feline just loves the cold weather, you might want to consider a heated bowl for the garage, carport, barn, or other protected area (you will need a power source to plug it in). Cats aren’t likely to eat snow when they’re thirsty.
Not only will cats use the Farm Innovators SB-40 Stainless Steel Bowl, but so will birds and other wildlife. The 40-watt heater keeps water thawed even during below-zero temperatures. Although the volume seems large, you’ll need it because the water evaporates when located in areas with low humidity. The stainless steel interior is hygienic and effortless to clean, although it must be washed by hand to protect the electronics.
The heating element will shut itself off when the water runs dry to prevent overheating or damage. It’s also safely grounded to prevent shocks and electrocution. It has a one year limited warranty and is also available in 5.5-quart size.
We like the simple quality and value of Our Pets Durapet Premium Rubber-Bonded Stainless Steel Cat Dish (view at Amazon). It’s just the right size and depth while also being slip- and spill-proof. You may also be able to get your cat to drink more by offering them the fresh, clean water that can flow with five different settings in the PetSafe Drinkwell 360 Stainless Steel Pet Fountain (view at Chewy).
What to Look for in Cat Bowls
The bowl aisle at the pet store might feel overwhelming because there are so many types to choose from. There are a few important factors to look out for when selecting a water bowl for your cat. Veterinarians often recommend water bowls made from stainless steel or ceramic material because they are durable, easy to clean, and somewhat resistant to bacterial growth. They also less likely to add extra odors or flavors to the water that might further deter your cat from drinking.
In addition to ceramic, stainless steel, and plastic, you’ll also find in stores bowls made from bamboo, stoneware, melamine and silicone.
It’s worth noting that to make stainless steel bowls more decorative, many manufacturers have added a powdered coating or epoxy plastic on the outer surface, and sometimes even on the inner part of the bowl. So be sure that if you’re shopping for a stainless steel bowl for all of its benefits, you’re not actually buying a plastic-coated stainless steel bowl that instead would be more similar to a plastic bowl.
Veterinarians don’t often recommend plastic bowls because they may be lower-quality and have a number of drawbacks for your cat. All plastics are made from petroleum-based chemicals. Some are highly porous and most leach chemicals as they degrade over time, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. Cracks and crevices can also harbor unhealthy bacteria that can cause digestive upset and an odor that could deter your cat from drinking.
If you must use a plastic bowl, ensure that it is “BPA-” and phthalate-free. BPA, short for bisphenol A, is a chemical hardener used in plastics manufacturing. According to the nonprofit watchdog Environmental Working Group, BPA has been shown to disrupt the endocrine system and trigger a wide variety of disorders, including chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular damage and early puberty to name only a few.
Silicone is definitely more environmentally and health friendly than plastic because silicone is more inert than plastic, meaning it will last longer and has a lower chance of leaching chemicals into the water. But the quality of silicone varies widely, and those with more added fillers are less healthy for your cat. There also aren’t many long-term studies on the use of silicone for food and water containers so in general, they’re only slightly better than plastic. Lightweight silicone is a top choice for collapsible portable pet dishes but may be less ideal for everyday use.
It’s also worth noting that both silicone and plastic tend to leach chemicals when exposed to high heat, including the drying cycle of your dishwasher. So if you must use plastic or silicone, be sure to hand wash them regularly and replace the bowls annually.
Size and Shape
The shape isn’t so crucial, although choose straight sides or those that flair outward making them harder to tip. Make sure that the bowl is at least a bit wider than your cat’s whiskers. Their whiskers are an extra sensory organ, sending their brains as much information as their eyes or ears. Many cats won’t drink from small water bowls because they don’t like how the edges feel against their highly sensitive whiskers. Choose a wide, shallow water dish that will hold a two-day supply of water for your cat.
Generally, cats drink about 20 to 40 milliliters of water per pound of body weight per day. That comes out to about 1 to 2 cups for a 12 pound cat per day. If you give them fresh water every day, a two-day supply should never run out and won’t have time to develop much bacteria or odor. Be sure to scale up the volume accordingly for multiple cats and those with higher body weights.
Where should I put my cat’s water bowl?
The ideal spot for a cat’s water dish is quiet, clean, and odor free. While cats are predators, their biology tells them they are also prey. That means that getting a drink of water can make them feel vulnerable. If the location is too busy or loud, your cat may not feel relaxed and comfortable enough to take their time and drink their fill.
Many cats are also sensitive to smells and odors. They may avoid a water dish that is too close to their food bowl or the litter box. That’s because their species has evolved to only drink water that is free from odor. To them, water that has an odor could mean the water is contaminated with bacteria or something harmful. Distance from food and litter will also help ensure that foreign objects aren’t falling into their water and fouling it.
Perhaps most importantly, select a location that you can monitor easily so there’s no chance your cats will run out of fresh, clean drinking water.
How can I stop my cat from tipping over their water bowl?
Spilled water is more than just an annoyance. It can damage some flooring and cause trips and falls. To prevent tipping, look for a bowl that is wide at the base and shallow. Straight sides can also help prevent tipping. Some bowls have added weight in the base or are made from naturally heavy material like stoneware or ceramics that make them harder to tip (see above). Others find that using a mat made from rubber or other material under the bowl can also prevent the bowl from sliding and keep any spilled water off the flooring.
Can cats share a water bowl?
Although no harm is caused by more than one cat using the same water bowl, it is best to have at least one water dish for each cat. Because we want our cats to drink their fill of water each day, we want to be sure nothing keeps them from it. Even cats raised together from birth who love each other deeply can be territorial. Their species is known for its independence. That extends to their need for their own space. As mentioned above, they also need to relax to be able to drink their fill. But they may not be able to relax if they think there is competition for the bowl. If they can’t just move on to another bowl when the dominant cat comes along, they might not be getting all of their needed hydration.
Be sure to separate multiple drinking water bowls by placing them in separate rooms or far apart in the same room. That way no cat can guard more than one bowl at once and there will always be another bowl to drink from safely.
Why Trust The Spruce Pets?
This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde who has had at least two cat companions in her home for the past 35 years including some special needs kitties. Two of her cats lived happily and healthily into their early 20s. Her current feline companions have been challenged by digestive and urinary tract health issues so making sure they drink enough water has been extra important.
When researching these brands, Lorraine evaluated the type and quality of each product, customer reviews, the company’s research and development, and their business ethics.
Lorraine also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in environmental science. She is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed, and environmentally-conscious choices to protect their pets and our planet.