Many cats are kept indoors for various reasons, but because they’re natural foragers this can lead to a host of behavioral and health problems. This includes obesity, diabetes, and troublesome behaviors such as aggression, house-soiling, and excessive attention demands on the owner (1).
In a new study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, a research team from the University of California at Berkeley tout the benefits of food puzzles—gadgets that force cats to work for their food. These puzzles take advantage of the feline hunting instinct, fulfilling their ingrained desires. By “foraging” for food in this way, cats are more physically active, they experience reduced levels of stress, and they become less demanding of their owners (2).
Some puzzle feeders are ball- or tube-shaped and release bits of kibble when rolled just the right way. Some have sliders that move to reveal hidden compartments where you stash the food. Others have silos of different heights to add complexity to the hunt. Many of these can be made out of common household objects (3).
There are also many publicly available puzzle feeders that provide excellent environmental enrichment. Here are some of our favorites (we use these at home) and links to Amazon where they can be purchased.
Please follow these links for more detailed information about Puzzle Feeders and Environmental Enrichment:
(1) Food Puzzles for Cats