Why You Should Make Your Cat Work for Her Food

Lisa Selvaggio
by Lisa Selvaggio
fast facts

Your cat has everything she needs, served right to her. But making your cat work for her food is actually a good thing!

You might think that your laid-back kitty is perfectly content with having her food plated and served to her, but research has shown that the opposite may be true: your cat might actually prefer working for her food every now and then.

Food Puzzles Can Be Challenging but Fun

There are a variety of food puzzles available that are specifically designed for cats who could benefit from having to work for their food a bit, and experts recommend getting your pet a few food puzzles to keep things interesting.

Related: Top 5 Puzzle Games for Cats

Researchers have found that, with the help of food puzzles, overweight cats could lose weight, and pushy kitties who beg their owners for food could be distracted as they work on figuring out how to get the food on their own. Plus, food puzzles could work wonderfully on felines of all ages, as long as the puzzles are providing the cats with adequate amounts of food (you don’t want a puzzle to be so hard that your pet doesn’t get enough to eat from it).

Overall, cats who have to work through puzzles to get to their food may be happier, may exhibit fewer behavioral issues, and may be in better shape than their counterparts who are given a bowl full of food all the time. After incorporating the use of food puzzles into your kitty’s everyday life, you might find that she is less stressed, that she bothers you less for food, and that she is able to be more active as she enjoys the challenge that comes with foraging for her meal.

Puzzles Provide Physical and Mental Exercise

What makes food puzzles so great? Well, indoor kitties don’t have the thrill of the hunt, so they might become bored. But food puzzles could bring variety into their day and allow them to figure out a problem and receive food as their reward. Cats who are living in the lap of luxury inside a cozy home could still forage for food and get the satisfaction that comes with working for it and attaining their goal.

Related: NoBowl Feeding System Lets Your Cat Play With His Food

Plus, the right food puzzle could not only stimulate your cat mentally, but could also serve as a form of physical exercise too. For example, even though there are stationary puzzles available, there are also those that would entice your cat to bat around a ball filled with dry food to figure out how to get the food out.

It’s Best to Vary the Puzzles Used

Once your kitty has figured out how to get to the food in a puzzle, it might become too easy for her and she won’t reap the same benefits after a while. Simply switching up the food puzzles that you offer to your pet could ensure your cat has new problems to solve and new rewards to reap.

From stationary to mobile puzzles, the key is to provide your feline friend with variety, whether you make the food puzzles yourself or you purchase them from a pet supply store. It might take some trial and error to figure out which puzzles are best suited to your cat, but once you find a few that work, you can rotate them while adding new puzzles to keep things interesting. And if you have more than one kitty, experts recommend getting each cat their own food puzzle to work on.

So go ahead and let your indoor cat let out a bit of her wild side by giving her the chance to work for her food. You might find that her emotional wellbeing and physical health improve, thanks to this simple addition to her everyday routine.

Lisa Selvaggio
Lisa Selvaggio

Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.

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