Whisker Fatigue

Why does my cat think the bowl is empty when the center is bare?


Jackie Johnson

3/23/20221 min read

If you're like most cat owners, you may have wondered why your cat thinks that his food bowl is empty even though there's clearly plenty of food left in there! The answer might be whisker fatigue.

Your cat uses their whiskers to take in all kinds of information. Unlike our ability to turn off background "noise", cats don't have that same ability with their whiskers. So like we don't feel our clothes on our backs all the time because our brain has the ability to tune that out for us.

Basically, cats go through sensory issues when their whiskers are touched too much, such as rubbing on a food bowl during meal times. That means that when your cat leaves the outer ring of food in the bowl and acts like there's nothing available to eat, it's communication that she can't eat comfortably.

Here are some signs that your cat might be suffering from whisker fatigue:
  • Acting hungry but showing reluctance to eat

  • Pacing or sitting in front of food before eating

  • Aggression around food, particularly with other animals in the home

  • "Playing" in food with feet and knocking it onto the floor

So what can you do for your cat?

The answer is actually pretty simple. If you've seen special cat food bowls, they are designed with whisker fatigue. Fixing and preventing whisker fatigue is as easy as replacing your cat's dishes with something that is more shallow and cat-friendly, like the one pictured here.