Food puzzles are toys intended to decrease boredom, frustration, and environmental variables in cats! Cats often display behavioral problems as a result of these stressors. By encouraging cats to forage for their meals, food puzzles mimic their natural hunting instincts, which otherwise lay dormant in a domestic environment.* Based on a recent article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, food puzzles slowed mealtimes and encouraged activity and enrichment.** Cat owners were surveyed about what type of food they feed their cat, the method of delivery, and their attitudes toward and use of food puzzles. Many owners were using food puzzles in weight management and obesity prevention for their fuzzy felines and over 50% were filling their bowl throughout the day.
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your food puzzle:
- It is important that cats are able to solve the puzzle, so pick a puzzle that is relatively easy to complete.
- Try different types of puzzles. Examples include stationary puzzles, rolling puzzles, wet food puzzles, and foraging boxes.
- Try hiding the puzzle in different locations as a way to challenge your cat.
- Do not use too many high-calorie treats to encourage the use of a food puzzle – this might defeat the purpose if you are trying to get your cat to lose some weight.
- Recommendations will need to be tailored to each family environment and specific motivations of your cat.
- Always continue with traditional weight loss methods in consultation with a veterinarian including calorie counting.
* Dantas, Leticia, MS, Bain, MJ & Buffington, CT. (March, 2016). Food puzzles for cats: feeding for physical and emotional wellbeing. Journal of feline medicine and surgery. Retrieved October, 2019
** Delgado, Mikel, Bain, MJ & Buffington, Tony. (March, 2019). A survey of feeding practices and use of food puzzles in owners of domestic cats. Journal of feline medicine and surgery. Retrieved October, 2019