Feeding puzzles and feeding toys for cats can be a game changer if you have a cat who needs to be encouraged to eat more slowly. Such toys and puzzles help engage species specific behaviors and can increase interest in play for cats who are overweight. They can also be a great distraction for a cat who needs to be redirected into another activity for any reason, or who could simply use extra enrichment in their lives… because who can’t use extra enrichment in their lives?
One thing that’s important to know, though, is that if your cat hasn’t used feeding tools before, you’ll need to make sure they’re comfortable with them before just taking away the food bowl. This can mean a slow introduction for most cats, as well as starting with a beginner level feeding tool.
- Let them win right away. Make sure their first puzzle/toy allows your cat to see and access the food easily.
- Associate it with a meal. Start by sprinkling some of your cat’s meal on the puzzle and by keeping it near their feeding station.
- Increase the food, then the difficulty. Slowly increase the food that they’re eating from the puzzle until they’re getting their entire meal from the puzzle. Then, once your cat is successfully using that feeding tool for their meals, increase the difficulty of the puzzle, keeping in mind that you’ll need to keep an eye on how well your cat is eating from that feeding tool to make sure they’re not becoming frustrated or disinterested in it.
Finding the puzzle or toy that works for your cat can be a bit of detective work, but there are so many benefits that it’s more than worth it for your cat’s mental and physical health!