Cats are not an animal that we associate with work. In fact, I think most of us tend to see them as the exact opposite. They are possibly the laziest creatures on Earth. Cats are naturally very sedentary creatures, and indoor cats are even lazier than their outdoor counterparts.
Cat owners keep “house cats” for a number of reasons, but this isn’t a cat’s natural habitat. Indoor cats especially can suffer from a lack of stimulation. Being an indoor cat can lead to health issues, mainly feline diabetes and obesity.
The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery has recently published findings by a team at the University of California at Berkeley about the benefits of food puzzles. These food puzzles help make cats more physically and mentally stimulated. The study had some pretty cool findings.
A “puzzle feeder” is a toy that dispenses food to your cat after completing a specified task. It provides your cat with mental and physical stimulation, effectively turning dinner time into a fun game. They come in all different kinds, requiring different types of tasks from your cat. It could involve pushing treats through a maze, or pushing a ball with their noses. These puzzle feeders play on a natural instinct cats have to forage for their own food.
Puzzle feeders have tons of benefits for your feline friends. They help your cat eat slowly, helping in weight control and vomiting, all while providing a little bit of exercise. They are overall a much healthier option than free-feeding, which is just dumping your cat’s food into a dish and letting him have at it.
In one case study by the university, an obese eight year old cat lost 20% of his overall body weight after a year of using puzzle feeders!
There are plenty of products on the market today for puzzle cat feeders, but before running out to a pet store, try making one of these puzzle feeders yourself! There is a number of clever do-it-yourself devices available on the internet for feeding devices you can create for your cat. If you have some brown paper bags, boxes, toilet paper tubes, or empty plastic bottles sitting around the house, it should be no problem to whip something up.
For households with multiple cats each cat should receive his own puzzle toy. Cats also seem to have a preference of what feeders they like the most, so experiment a little bit. Ideally, your cat would like to be presented with multiple types of puzzle feeders to keep him engaged and to not get bored.
When you first introduce your cat to the puzzle feeder, it is a recommended that you keep the feeder overflowing. This will help until your cat learn how to effectively use that specific feeder.
Can you think of any ways that could be used to further stimulate your lazy cat? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’ve discovered cats actually may be up to no good at all, and think you should really check this out.