Why consider food puzzles for your Cat?
Eating out of a dish isn’t all that interesting to cats. Instead, try a feeder that simulates normal feline hunting and eating, which includes searching for their food.
Puzzle feeders promote both mental and physical stimulation for your cat, as they are naturally adept at hunting and searching for food. Using a puzzle feeder (also called a slow feeder or food toy) is an easy way to feed cats as they prefer to be fed. Food puzzles are also beneficial to slow down eating in cats that rush their meals and can help with weight loss in overweight cats by promoting activity.
Techniques for Introduction
Food toys can be homemade or bought, simple or complex. With any new puzzle or toy for your cat, try a simpler one first, where your cat can access the food easily. Then work up to more complicated options. When first using a food puzzle, highly desirable treats should be used, then move to their regular food. Just like with other toys, always supervise the first time you offer a new food puzzle. If you have multiple cats, make sure each one gets food toys appropriate to their skill level.
Rotate the food puzzles you use, too – you can use a new one every meal, or change them out if you notice your cat losing interest in one or it has become too easy for your cat.
- Toss single bits of kibble for the cats to chase and find.
- Trixie cat puzzle feeders – these are great feeders that are very well built and come with different challenges. I start most cats with the Trixie 5-in-1 to gauge their interest in using puzzle feeders. This one can even be used for canned food on the two ends of the feeder. They are available on Amazon or Chewy.
- Doc and Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Feeder with mice-shaped food toys are also great because the individual mice filled with kibble can be hidden around the house. (Also available on Amazon.)
- Easy and creative homemade options and more information on food puzzles can be found on the website Food Puzzles for Cats.
- Cat Lasagna is another fun method with paper, toys, and food layered in alternating sheets in a baking dish. This could become a fun project for kids to get involved with, too!
- Spread and smear onto plates or trays
- Put into the small compartments of an ice cube tray
- Spot Doc and Phoebe’s Wet Feeder for Cats
- IQ Treat Ball – I put kibbles in or wet food smeared on it to start
- Lickimat or similar textured silicone mats
Kindly provided for Cat Care Clinic by:
Ilona Rodan, DVM, Feline Specialist and Behavior Consultant, Cat Behavior Solutions, CCBC
Julia Pinckney, MSc. Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare