Food Puzzles for Cats
The sound of my cat wailing for his food is so annoying that I will immediately provide him with a meal. When Paolo is hungry there will be no peace for me until the meaty chunks are in the dish. His impatience is usually obvious and his wish is my command. So I was very surprised to read that scientists are suggesting that cats enjoy food puzzles which force them to forage for their food.
Experts in energy conservation, most cats appear to be somewhat lazy and Paolo is no exception. The idea that he would enjoy it if I made life harder for him is a strange one. However, a study Published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery recently suggests that foraging for food exercises both mind and body and so offers many benefits to felines.
Hunting for Treats
Cats are naturally hunters and foragers who have evolved to be up for a challenge. When you look at things that way, the provision of a bowl of chunks does seem rather uninspiring. The recent study was conducted by a research team at the University of California. They discovered that food puzzles encourage cats to be more active which can help indoor cats to avoid becoming obese. Foraging for food and working out how to get their paws on it also helps cats to fend off stress and boredom. This means that they will exhibit fewer behavioural issues.
Addressing Bad Behaviour
Having lived with an unusually intelligent and easily bored cat in the past, I know all about behavioural issues! If I had known about food puzzles I might have avoided the periodic destruction of my home that I endured for years!
Providing the Puzzles
You can purchase food puzzles in the form of plastic containers which hold dry food or treats. The cats have to work out how to access the food and this can involve rolling the devices around or having to push their paws through holes or openings in the puzzles.
Alternatively you can undertake a little DIY. Creating a food puzzle can be as simple as hiding some grub in a paper bag or placing a plate of tasty morsels underneath an upturned cardboard box. Food puzzles don’t have to be expensive. As long as your inventions involve the cat having to work something out and to move about, the puzzles should make a real difference.
Testing the Theory
I am going to test the water on Paolo. He is getting on a bit now and so his energy levels have dropped to an all-time low. But he is clearly missing the company of Sammy who died last year and he does still undertake the occasional hunting expedition. Perhaps he could benefit from a few distractions after all. He might take a dim view of me hiding his favourite cat treats but on the other hand, maybe he will relish the adventure of having to seek them out.