When mealtime is one of the major events of your cat’s lazy day, don’t let it be boring! Have fun by turning dinner time into play time with food puzzles–they aren’t just for dogs! Mental stimulation is an important part of keeping an indoor cat happy, and what better way to make that kitty brain think than have it work for its favorite thing, food?
Is a Food Puzzle Right for My Cat?
When considering introducing a food puzzle to a cat, ask yourself: how food motivated is my cat? If he/she is running into the kitchen, meowing or pawing at your leg for his dinner, then chances are he’ll benefit from a food puzzle! Or if your cat goes crazy for treats, you can use food puzzles for treat time instead. There are a few commercial brands of cat food puzzles you can buy that work great, but you can also make one yourself.
How to Make Your Own Food Puzzle:
- Take an empty yogurt container (preferably a brand that has a plastic lid; or use any cylindrical container that has a lid and is soft enough to cut through). Carefully using a sharp knife or scissors, cut two holes on either side of the container.
- Use duct tape or sandpaper to soften the edges of the holes (make sure there are no sharp bits!)
- Place food inside and put the lid back on!
Be sure to thoroughly clean the container before using it, and always check homemade items for potentially hazardous materials before giving them to your cat. When first giving your cat a new item, be sure to supervise.
What If My Cat Doesn’t Like It Or Won’t Use It?
Some cats get the hang of food puzzles quickly, but others might stare at you wondering what on earth they’re supposed to do. For reluctant learners, you can start by using a large yogurt container and cutting big holes (big enough that the cat’s entire paw can fit inside). It may seem too easy–one good knock over, and most of the food has spilled out, but what your cat is learning is that if they push the container, they get food. Once your cat is a pro at that, move down to a smaller yogurt container. Once that is mastered, a commercial, weighted food puzzle will be a worthy purchase–or try cutting the holes so that your homemade food puzzle is more challenging!
Why Food Puzzles?
–Indoor cats generally have less activities to keep them mentally stimulated throughout the day. Having them work for food gives them a puzzle to solve and keeps their brains active.
–Cats who are prone to eating too fast and suffer from stomach upset/vomiting can use food puzzles as a way to slow down their food intake.
–Food puzzles give your cat some more exercise–and help keep them at a healthy weight!
Are You Sure Cats Really Use Food Puzzles?
Yes! Check out these photos of an ARL alum learning how to use a food puzzle, and a recent video of him enjoying a satisfying dinner as a food puzzle pro!