Cats love to play with toys and chase fake mice around the house and this sometimes extends to their food. And when bored, our cats tend to eat more especially when dry food is let out all day long. Food Puzzles can help make cats work for their food while stimulating them at the same time.
What are food puzzles?
Food puzzles are contraptions or home-made puzzles that make cats work for their food. The puzzles can be as simple as putting dry food in a closed and empty cottage cheese container and cutting a hole in the side, so that the cat has to bat around the container to get the food to fall out
Cats given food puzzles thrive as they tend to be more physically fit and happier. It seems there are also fewer behavioral problems, such as aggression and over-grooming, than cats with regular food bowls.
“Food puzzles provide cats with exercise and mental stimulation,” said review co-author Mikel Delgado, a doctoral candidate of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Delgado is also a certified cat behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. "It gives them an outlet to let cats be their natural predatory selves."
Indoor cats tend to be overweight since they don’t have to work for food and get less exercise
Indoor kitties are often given unlimited food, and don’t have to work for their dinner. "It's no wonder that indoor felines have a high risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems and chronic lower urinary tract signs," she said. Indoor cats can also have behavioral problems, including attention-seeking and stress-related behaviors, such as house soiling.
In the review, cats that used food puzzles were thinner and behaved better
Food puzzles can alleviate those health and behavior problems. In the review, Delgado and her colleagues assessed about 30 cases that they had personally observed when food puzzles helped kitties. For instance, an obese 8-year-old male cat lost 20 percent of its body weight after using food puzzles for a year. Another case was a pair of sibling cats. They were constantly meowing for food, wanting the owner's attention and stealing leftover food from dirty plates on the counter. The owner stopped leaving out leftover food, and gave the cats food puzzles, which slowed down both cats’ eating. Afterward, the cats stopped meowing for food so much, and they left the owner alone while they were distracted with the food puzzle.
Food puzzles have worked on kittens and even senior cats
Food puzzles have worked on kittens, senior cats, three-legged cats and blind cats. Delgado did caution that young, old and disabled cats should be given easy puzzles as a way to ensure that they’re getting enough food. And, for the cats who love them, keep them challenged by changing the puzzle.
I think I'd better get started on making some food puzzles! Found some directions for making five different ones which I will share with you next week.
Marion Lovato is the author of Sam, the Superkitty. Her book describes an ordinary cat changing into a superhero to protect his family from things that go bump in the night. Available on Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1604588667