Cats are born killers by nature, moreover, searching is one behaviour we by no means requested them to vary throughout domestication—we needed them to kill mice and rats. However then we introduced them into our houses, handed them a bowl of meals, and primarily took their jobs away. The end result? Incessantly bored home cats. However concern not. You may present an enriched surroundings to your cat via toys, vertical house, and protected vegetation (amongst different issues), in addition to an usually missed possibility: meals puzzles!
What’s a meals puzzle? Typically referred to as foraging toys, meals puzzles are objects that require interplay to launch meals or treats. This sort of enrichment is commonly supplied to animals in zoos and sanctuaries to encourage pure food-searching behaviours, whether or not the animal is a predator or forages for vegetation. We are able to additionally supply meals puzzles to cats, giving them an outlet for his or her intuition to work for meals.
Meals puzzles come in numerous shapes, sizes and kinds. You should utilize cellular puzzles, similar to a ball with holes in it that you just fill with dry meals. Your cat rolls the ball round, and meals is intermittently launched from the holes. Stationary puzzles are boards or different secure objects which have cups and tunnels that your cat can scoop meals out of with a paw. Some puzzles may be modified to be used with moist meals as properly. Many pet shops and on-line sources have meals puzzles out there, however there are additionally straightforward methods you’ll be able to present your cat with DIY puzzles utilizing frequent family objects.
Why use meals puzzles?
Meals puzzles can supply advantages to nearly each cat, younger or outdated. Many cat house owners work lengthy hours, and their cats could also be sitting at residence with nothing to do all day however nap! Those self same cats could also be wound up within the night when house owners want to sleep, or they may have interaction in undesirable attention-seeking behaviours like meowing or leaping on counters as a result of they don’t have sufficient to maintain them busy. Meals puzzles will help forestall and clear up behaviour issues by offering your cat with problem and psychological stimulation. Time spent busy with a meals puzzle is time your cat is just not partaking in naughty behaviour.
Meals puzzles additionally encourage wholesome feeding behaviour. Do you know that cats are naturally grazers? Given the selection, they’d eat eight to fifteen small meals per day, so a meals puzzle offers your cat extra management over their feeding schedule. Your cat can work together with a puzzle for just a few items of meals and return to it later after they really feel like a snack. Meals puzzles decelerate consuming, which may be useful if in case you have cats who eat at totally different speeds, or for those who’re attempting to assist an obese cat really feel extra satiated earlier than they wolf down an excessive amount of meals.
Maybe most significantly, when launched and used accurately meals puzzles may be nice enjoyable for you AND your cat. Your cat shall be rewarded for enjoying with the meals puzzle, and you can be rewarded with cuteness whereas watching them!
How do I get began?
Your cat’s first foraging toy ought to be straightforward to allow them to be freely rewarded for interacting with the puzzle. Each rolling and stationary puzzles can match the invoice. Rolling puzzles usually present extra problem and may be made harder, whereas stationary boards can add novelty and are a wonderful selection for seniors and cats with particular wants.
For rolling puzzles begin with clear objects with not less than three holes for meals to dispense. Choose a light-weight, simply rolled object so it’s much less difficult, and initially much less irritating. Sprinkle some meals across the toy to get them began.
Some cats favor to have the puzzle positioned of their regular feeding space. For others, placing it in a brand new location sparks extra curiosity. Strive each! The purpose is to scatter the puzzles all through the house, particularly in a multi-cat family. Fill the puzzles not less than half full: an nearly empty toy with 3 or 4 items of meals left inside may be very difficult and will frustrate your cat.
“Meals puzzles additionally encourage wholesome feeding behaviour. Do you know that cats are naturally grazers? Given the selection, they’d eat eight to fifteen small meals per day.”
Don’t be disillusioned in case your cat doesn’t take to it instantly. There may be little motivation to work for what has been available in a bowl for years. Novel meals usually will increase curiosity, so add just a few treats for a “jackpot” reward.
As soon as your cats get the hold of foraging, step by step improve the problem. Cats who’ve been strictly meal fed might take to foraging so shortly that they’ll quickly transition to one- or two-holed objects. You may attempt puzzles that roll much less predictably or are opaque in order that your cats have to be motivated by scent and former expertise.
You too can mix toys, by taking a smaller puzzle that the cat has mastered and putting it inside a bigger meals puzzle. Now your cat should work even more durable to realize the reward. Sure, they actually can get that good at foraging!
Home made choices
If you happen to can put a gap in it, it may be a meals puzzle! One of many best meals puzzles you can also make at house is to poke holes in an empty plastic water bottle. Fill the bottle about 1/2 to 3/4 full with dry meals and place it on the ground to your cat.
Home goods similar to yogurt cups, paper towel rolls, and outdated medication bottles can all be changed into a meals puzzle. For stationary DIY puzzles attempt an egg carton, ice dice tray, or a shoe field. You may even make a moist meals puzzle out of an outdated espresso mug! Flip the mug on its aspect on a placemat and permit your cat to scoop meals out with their paw.
Meals puzzles supply many advantages to cats. Foraging presents an usually missed type of enrichment by offering an outlet to your cats to hunt and downside clear up. These toys create “optimistic frustration,” that means that when the cat solves the puzzle they’re rewarded for his or her accomplishment. Meals puzzles can even encourage peace in your multi-cat family! Meal feeding will increase competitors and reduces environmental management and might result in aggression between cats. Meals puzzles improve out there sources and permit totally free feeding, which reduces the stress in your house.
Encourage pure instincts whereas decreasing binge consuming. Senses 2.0 Digger, from $20, catit.ca
Let your cat hunt for her dinner, whether or not moist meals or kibble! Indoor Searching Feeder, from $20, docandphoebe.com