Feline Mental Stimulation Part 2 – Puzzle feeders ...

Feline Mental Stimulation Part 1

Many cats are fed their food in a bowl in the same location day in, day out, meaning little or no exertion is needed in order to obtain food. For some this works well but for others they may eat all their food in one go and then pester for more. Hunting provides opportunities to… Read more »

Many cats are fed their food in a bowl in the same location day in, day out, meaning little or no exertion is needed in order to obtain food. For some this works well but for others they may eat all their food in one go and then pester for more. Hunting provides opportunities to search, capture and kill their food, all of which involve mental and physical exertion. For the cat, hunting is problem-solving of finding the prey, successfully capturing it and then killing it which has to be accomplished before eating can commence.

This activity slows the eating and allows the brain to realise there is food in the stomach and they are in fact full and satisfied and don’t need to eat more, which is very handy for the cats that are on a diet.

Puzzle feeders provide this opportunity by allowing the cat to ‘hunt’, forage, ‘kill’ and eat the food, while leaving them satisfied and mentally stimulated. Some puzzle feeders require cats to fish food out with their paws, manipulate the object with their paws or nose to release the food, or to extract food with their tongues and jaws especially when wet food is used.

You can buy puzzle feeders from many pet shops but with the current climate and lack of deliveries, as these aren’t classed as essential items, we can save money and get creative with household items- think Blue Peter 😊.

Ideas include and are not limited to-

  • Egg boxes- food can be placed in the egg slots and crumpled up newspaper can be placed on top so they can forage and find the food.
  • A clean and dried plastic drinks bottle with the lid attached still and some of their biscuits placed inside- cut a hole in the bottle just big enough for the biscuits to fit through and allow the cat to push it around to encourage the biscuits to fall out (just make sure there are no sharp plastic edges).
  • Collect empty toilet tubes and stick them together in a pyramid shape, place food inside and either leave to find and hook the food out or stuff newspaper in each end to encourage them to forage and find.
  • Turn a box upside down and stick pots to the top such as egg boxes, used chocolate box trays, yoghurt pots and any other packaging you can find. Hide food and get creative!
  • If wet food is used then wash up well or recycle when done with and save another piece of packaging to use.

It is best to introduce puzzle feeders gradually giving the cat time to learn how to use them to avoid causing frustration from being unable to get to the food. Otherwise they may give up and refuse to use it. Therefore, when introducing puzzle feeders:

  • Continue to feed the cat’s daily allowance of food in a bowl, as well as offering some of it in the puzzle feeder
  • Adjust the settings of the puzzle feeder so that obtaining food is easy to start.
  • Filling the puzzle feeder with plenty of food so the device is at least half to three-quarters full meaning the food is easy to obtain.
  • Use clear puzzle feeders and/or ones with lots of openings so the cats can easily see, smell and hear the food.
  • Sprinkle some dry food around the puzzle feeder as this will encourage interest in the device and help the cat make a connection between food and the puzzle feeder

As they become more confident and skilled at using the puzzle feeder and if showing no signs of stress, anxiety or frustration when using it then increase the amount of the cat’s daily food allowance provided via the puzzle feeder. It is recommended that 100% of the cat’s food is provided via puzzle feeders if possible.

The difficulty of the puzzle feeder should be gradually increased to keep them stimulated and challenged, while working with their individual preferences. Overall, the use of puzzle feeders should be enriching and entertaining for your cat, allow them to express their natural hunting behaviours and exercise their bodies and minds.

Please send us pics and ideas of your fur-babies puzzle feeders at home so we can all be inspired and encouraged by your creative ideas and comments 😊

If you are needing any help or advice please feel free to call or message us at the practice.

The final instalment in the series is looking after ourselves and staying healthy and happy at this challenging time.

Stay safe and healthy all 😊