Mealtime for cats is pretty routine. Free-feeding dry food, which can lead to weight gain, or feeding a couple of times at day, around the same time of day. A cat’s instincts, though, are to snack throughout the day, and to eat alone. To add some mental stimulation and fun to your cat’s mealtime routine, consider adding food puzzles.
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Cat’s Feeding Instincts
Feeding multiple cats together, or feeding large meals is stressful for a cat. Since pet food is quite palatable, it’s easy for cats to eat it quickly, which often leads to overeating and weight gain. If your cat tends to “binge and purge”, food puzzles can slow down his eating and help break the binge/purge cycle.
If you have more than one cat, feed each in a separate location. Rather than feeding one or two meals each day, break up the schedule into several smaller meals.
Food puzzles add mental stimulation to your cat’s day and provide him with exercise.There are many types of food puzzles available, or you can create them, depending on what type your cat prefers. One food puzzle I’ve had success with is the PetSafe SlimCat Meal-Dispensing Cat Toy. It’s round, so it’s naturally attractive for cat’s to bat. Once cats figure out food comes out, they usually love the toy! I like the fact you can adjust the size of the food distribution holes on the ball to make the game more difficult as cats learn the game.
Get Started with Food Puzzles
When first introducing food puzzle toys, do it when your cat is hungry. He’ll be more motivated to stay with the game. Begin the game by offering treats. Transition afterward to his regular food.
For cats that eat wet food, use stationery puzzles. like this one from Amazon Basics. It works great to slow down cats that gobble their food, plus provides mental stimulation as they work to access their food. Put a small spoonful of wet food in cubbies of the puzzle they can access pretty easily. They are dishwasher safe.
Many cats tend to get bored easily. Keep at least two different puzzle toys to interchange periodically. Observe your cat to see what puzzle style he prefers and look for variations on those.
For more information on how to get started with food puzzles, types of puzzles available, and DIY food puzzle ideas, go to foodpuzzlesforcats.com.
Have you used food puzzles for your cat(s)? Please leave a comment and let us know how it went, we’d love to hear from you!