Puzzle Feeders

Put a little challenge
on your cat's menu.

  1. Hunting put the skills of your cat’s wild ancestors to the test. Your cat can benefit from the same.

    It’s easy to slip into a routine. Same food. Same time. Same location.

    We love our cats, and it shows. However, this life of luxury can have unintended consequences. 

    The reality is, cats are wired to work for their food. And in the wild, the daily search for food is a recurring puzzle.

    For these cats, this means the necessity of actively hunting for prey and learning how to extract other sources of food from their environment, like insects or berries, as the opportunities present themselves.

    To replicate the stimulation that is naturally comes with working for food, consider incorporating puzzle or exercise feeders into her routine.

    To replicate the stimulation that naturally comes with working for food, consider incorporating puzzle or exercise feeders into the feeding routine.

     This activity will introduce you to some different types of puzzle feeders. Each is designed to appeal to different instincts and actions, and rewards efforts with food. The goal is to help your cat burn physical and mental energy while playing right into the energy cycle of Play Eat Rest.

  2. Portion Control Feeders

    These feeders look like a dome with a funnel in the top and can be made of plastic or ceramic. When you pour the kibble into the funnel, it spills down into the space enclosed by the dome. To get at the kibble for this easy challenge, your cat must reach in through different sized openings in the sides of the feeder.

    True Nature Tip: These are helpful for cats that have a tendency to overeat or simply eat too fast as it forces them to feed at a more gradual pace.

    To Complete This Step

    Try a portion control feeder with your cat and save an image of her grabbing kibble from it. Did you try this type of feeder to address a particular habit? Do you rotate this feeder in with a traditional feeding dish? What was your cat’s reaction? Did you find it helpful? Note your experiences.

  3. Rolling Feeders

    Openings in the side of these ball or egg-shaped feeders can be adjusted to allow one or more kibble to drop out when the feeder is rolled or batted about. To make it easy, start with the holes opened widest. Then, as your cat gets more comfortable with using it, gradually close them down over time in order to make it more challenging to get the kibble out.

    True Nature Tip: Most cats will take the easy road. So if your cat is used to feeding exclusively from a dish, it’s important to remove that option while the puzzle feeder is out. And please stay within our recommended daily feeding amounts to avoid overfeeding.

    To Complete This Step

    Have you tried a rolling feeder with your cat? Why did you choose that particular one? Did it take a while to get used to interacting with it or did she take to it right away? Record your observations in your journal. Then upload a photo of your cat playing with her puzzle feeder.

  4. Slider or Box Feeders

    These feeders pose a moderate challenge and use hidden compartments to stash the kibble. Your cat uses his or her paws and body to shift the puzzle pieces and “uncover” the food.

    To Complete This Step

    Does she show determination in getting her reward? Grab a photo of her working the puzzle with her paw. And note if she stops after getting the easy bits or pushes ahead with the more difficult challenges.

  5. Silo Feeders

    Also described as a feeding station or activity center, this type of feeder has individual silos of varying depth where you place the kibble and poses the most difficult challenge. Your cat must first use her eyes and nose to identify the location of the food before extracting it with her paws. It’s much like the way her wild ancestor would dig for termites.

    To Complete This Step

    Describe how she solves the challenge at hand and take a picture of her in action. And pay attention to which paw she uses most as she may show her “handedness.”

  6. DIY Feeders

    Use items around the house to make your own. Try cutting holes in the side of a round food container so it works much like the ball puzzle feeders. When the lid is on and it’s rolled on edge, the kibble will fall out. Don’t worry if your feeder only lasts a few days - changing often helps keep things interesting.

    To Complete This Step

    If you’ve made a puzzle feeder for your cat, upload a picture of it and explain the materials you used and how you went about building it. Describe your cat’s reaction to it. What did you hope to achieve with your puzzle that an off-the-shelf feeder might not have?

  7. Move it Around

    Change locations and time of day to change up the routine. This way, your cat won’t get into a rut.

    To Complete This Activity

    Make note of your old pattern and location, and the shift you made to keep interest high. Save a photo to your Journal.

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