Your cat is built to use its muscles and mind to find it’s meals. They are hunters by nature, quick, strong and clever. Left to hunt for their food, wild cats spend a good amount of time each day in pursuit of dinner. Not so much for our pet cats. We call them to dinner, they run to the kitchen, and wait while we serve up their meal, munch, crunch and gobble a bit and then it’s over.
Maybe took 5 – 10 minutes. There wasn’t much demand on the cats. And if you free feed, your cat ambles by the bowl every now and then to snack a bit. Still not much work to that. What’s my point?
You can greatly, improve the health of your cat, by doing this one thing! Change the way you feed it. For optimal health of your indoor cats (and even your outdoor ones) we want to replicate as much as possible their normal built in behaviors when they are inside. Since we control the environment they live in, your home, it is up to you to enrich the life of your cat, by providing the chances and opportunities to do what cats are born to do. You’ll hear all about this in the podcast episode below, from Dr. Kelly Ballantyne, a veterinary behaviorist, who talks about her chapter, “The Feline’s Dream Home, Creating an Enriched Environment for your Cat’s Mind and Body” from the new book, “Decoding Your Cat.”
I know, it’s very easy and convenient for you (and your cat) to simply feed them their meals in a bowl on the floor but as Dr. Ballantyne told me on the show, if there was ONE thing I MUST do to help my cat have a better life, it’s this. Get them working – thinking and moving – to eat.
How? Feed your kitty by putting their kibble or canned or raw food, whatever you use, in puzzle feeders and other things that will dispence the food.
It can be as simple as a paper tube that the cat works its way into and then has to nibble the kibble out.
There are very elaborate puzzle feeders you can purchase. These may be stationary but it still takes problem solving to figure out. More than one cat can use them (if they get along and don’t mind eating next to one another.)
These can cost a bit, but don’t be discouraged – make your own puzzle feeder. Here’s an idea. All you need is a plastic water bottle.
Then, watch your cat roll and chase the bottle around. The idea is not to just use these methods for giving your cat treats. You want to begin feeding ALL their meals this way. But start slowly. One meal from the regular bowl and some food from a puzzle. Gradually work up to all of the meals from the unusual feeders. Otherwise, your cat may be confused about what to do.
If you have one cat at home, take 12 little paper or plastic bowls and divide your cat’s wet food into them and hide them all over the house. This also works if you free feed. Each day, switch up where you hide the bowls. Your cat will get to forage for their food.
You get the idea. The goal is to have your cat hunt out their food in your house. It will satisfy them on a number of levels, mentally and physically.
I’d love to see what you come up with. Go to our facebook Raising Your Paws page and post a photo of your cat with its puzzle or the new feeder you make. You can also leave me a comment here.