Puzzle feeders help to mentally stimulate cats as they need to use their problem-solving skills and engage their hunting instincts to obtain their food. These can be as simple as an empty toilet roll with dry food placed inside to a feeder where they need to open compartments. The “no more bowls” system which encourages cats to search for their food thus engaging their hunting instincts. The food placed inside and you hide the mice around the house for them to seek out. A good quality complete dry food is perfect for all of these.
Puzzle feeders are a great way to help cats who need help reducing their weight. Our pet cats have descended from a solitary hunter which would hunt small prey throughout the day and night, their digestive system suits eating small amounts of food regularly rather than less frequent large meals. Puzzle feeders provide food in a way that links cats to their ancestral and natural instinct, whilst helping to keep them active and engaged. Using their dry food in the puzzle feeders it is essential you weigh out their food daily to prevent giving them too much throughout the day.
Top Tip: Weigh out their daily dry food allowance once a day and keep in an airtight container and take food from that to go in the puzzle feeders.
Wet food puzzle feeders are available too. These are slightly different to those used for dry food but are as effective. It is less easy to get creative as cardboard gets soggy, but you can adapt plastic items destined for the recycling, ensuring that cut edges are smooth or covered over as they can be sharp. Take care when cutting that you don’t injure yourself.
Introducing puzzle feeders does need to be done carefully to ensure your cat doesn’t get frustrated with it.
If there are difficulty levels involved in the puzzle feeder then set it at easiest to start with.
Place a small amount of food next to it to entice them towards it.
If nothing comes out for them initially help them so that they get a reward for effort put in, then leave them to carry on working it out.
Tips for choosing the right style of puzzle feeder for your cat.
Watch how they play, those who love balls may suit a puzzle ball.
Watch how they eat or drink, do they use their paws? Then stacked toilet rolls or puzzle feeders where they reach in and pull out the food.
Get creative: On a wet afternoon why not get the family involved in creating puzzle feeders for your cats. All you need is some imagination and items destined for the recycling or bin which can be converted into a puzzle feeder for your cat.
Note – Please be careful if cutting items and those which may leave sharp edges ensure these are smoothed off or covered to prevent injury to yourselves or the cats who are going to use them.