There is still no definitive research on whisker stress/fatigue (the theory that leads folks to suggest wide, flat bowls).
Boston Magazine recently interviewed multiple sources looking for confirmation of whisker stress and could not find any veterinarians to agree it is a problem that cat owners should be concerned about. These sources include:
- Journal Searches
- Journal of the American Veterinarian Association
- American Journal of Veterinary Research
- International Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
- MSPCA's Angell Animal Medical Center
- Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
- American Veterinary Medical Association
Many of the sources quoted in the article stressed that if your cat has trouble eating or has behavioral changes at mealtime, they should see a veterinarian for an assessment.
As the AVMA’s Meyer explained, “If you notice your cat having
difficulty eating or showing behavioral changes at meal time, talk to
your veterinarian. There could be serious and treatable medical
problems affecting your cat, such as an illness or painful problems
with their teeth.”
This advice agrees with my own experience. Whenever a cat has changed their eating habits (or gotten significantly messier at meal time), they've had a painful mouth condition. Once we addressed that issue, their habits returned to normal.