All About Cat Puzzle Feeders and Why Felines Love Them
Our fancy feline fur-friends can be frivolously foolish when it comes to playing with or hunting for their favorite kitty-cat treats and fresh foodies. And it’s no different when there’s a game involved, particularly when you have a puzzle feeder (the most common type of cat game) or other puzzle reward system for cat food or cat treats. Fluffys the world over love to move the pieces to get to their token prize: the kitty chow inside.
Here’s the gist. If you’ve never had a cat puzzle toy or a pet puzzle feeder, they work as follows: The cat has to figure out how to get the food out of the puzzle toy and is then rewarded with the food or kitty treat when he succeeds. It's a natural concept for a hunter. Most cat treat puzzle feeders are made of plastic-like or cardboard materials. Some have holes for the cat to stick his head (or paws) into to reach the cat food; others have little pegs that slide around so that the cat can appropriately move them to get to the food. Yet others are homemade and come in a variety of shapes and sizes (see below).
Pet puzzle feeders are a great way to keep your cat entertained while you’re at work, on a day trip, gone for a night, or to simply entertain, train, and educate while you are at home with your feline fur-riend. Plus, indoor cats in particular have a tendency to gain weight, which can lead to digestive problems and less mobility. Fortunately, special puzzle feeders can slow down the pet's eating and digestion, and provide fun while they’re at it.
Setting Up Your Cat Puzzle Feeder
You can use cat treats (your kitty’s preferred brand or one you are trying to turn him on to), you can use dry kibble, or you can even use wet food. Just don’t use more than you would at a typical meal if you are feeding at meal time, and don’t use more than the allotted snack amount recommended on the packaging if doing so in between meals. This will ensure kitty doesn’t eat too much.
Benefits of Using Cat Puzzle Feeders
The rewards of using a puzzle feeder include more than just the pure pleasure on the cat’s part; i.e., seek and reward. Puzzle feeders can be helpful if you’ve put your cat on a diet because she’ll have to work (play) for the food and will eat slowly and in small amounts, since only a small amount is distributed at a time. Feeder games are also beneficial for cats who tend to inhale their meals quickly (ahem, my cat Maxwell could really use one of these lately). And of course, it’s a great move to break up monotony or boredom. You can also integrate the use of puzzle feeders with cats that are in stressful situations. They can focus on the fun activity of trying to get food out of the puzzle feeder as a distraction from whatever is causing anxiety or stress in their daily environment.
Puzzle Feeder Designs Are Cool, Contemporary & Not Too Easy
When you discuss puzzle feeders several design options come up. They range from modest ball designs with a hole in them for dispensing kibble to multifaceted structures that provide entertainment for more than one cat at a time. The type of cat food you use may depend on the design of the feeder game toy. A simple Google search will turn up lots of sites that design and/or sell puzzle feeders for cats.
Make a Homemade Cat Feeder
To make a homemade cat puzzle feeder, take a small cardboard box and cut holes that are larger than the size of your cat’s paws. Cut these holes in random places and use random shapes like circles, squares, triangles, etc. Tape the flaps of the box closed and then toss some dry kibble in there. Shoe boxes make good puzzle feeder boxes.
Another popular homemade cat puzzle feeder design is the toilet paper tube feeder.* Take the cardboard center from the toilet paper roll and cut holes in it that are a little bigger than the size of the kibble. Fold the ends in to close them and you have an easy and cheap puzzle feeder.
You can also make one out of a small plastic water bottle.* Simply cut holes in the plastic and then pour some dry kibble in. Replace the cap and you have a feeder that’s simple for the cat to roll around, plus it makes an alluring sound.
When you make homemade puzzle feeders, make some of the holes big enough so kitty has lots of opportunities for achievement in getting the kibble, otherwise he may tire of it quickly. Once he gets the idea of the game and becomes skilled at it, you can make it a bit more challenging with smaller holes.
*With cardboard or plastic bottle feeders, make sure you only provide them to cats who don’t eat cardboard or plastic. Supervise play until you know for sure.
Variety of Puzzle Feeders on Market
There are cat puzzle feeders available online and in pet stores ranging from about $6 all the way up to about $30. You can go to a local retailer or order online from your fave pet supply store or outlet. Companies that specialize in puzzle feeders and animal environmental enrichment will have the best selections. Some companies that make cat puzzle feeder toys are Kong, Premier, Aikiou Stimulo, Good Pet Stuff, Play-N-Treat, andNina Ottosson.
To recap, cat food puzzle feeders are perfect for both indoor and outdoor cats for a number of reasons. Say you want to stimulate intellect or entertain. Or perhaps you want to prevent weight problems or reduce digestive problems. Cat treat puzzle feeders are ideally suited for all of this. In addition, they also help increase the activity of older and/or ailing cats and reduce stress to boot. Tigger will love this tasty treasure-themed game at home and will love spending time playing alone or with you. We guarantee it!
Remember one last thing, your cat puzzle feeder should be specifically designed — in both physical design and the cat food or treat you use inside — for what your cat finds stimulating, exciting and motivating!