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The Best Food Puzzles for Cats (And Why They're Important)

Brittney is a fourth-year veterinary student at St. George's University and has a sweet and playful cat named Toulouse.

Food puzzles can help reduce your cat's anxiety by encouraging play.

Food puzzles can help reduce your cat's anxiety by encouraging play.

Are Food Puzzles Good for Cats?

Yes! A lot of people adopt cats because they think that they're low maintenance. They think, "It's a cat, I don't have to walk it. I'm not going to have to play with it. I can feed it, clean its litter box, and it will just kind of exist in my house." But it's really important for you to interact with and stimulate your cat, whether it's a kitten or an adult.

They Reduce Anxiety and Behavioral Issues

A lot of behavioral problems in cats stem from them being bored and unchallenged. Food puzzles are a great way to combat that boredom.

They Boost Activity and Curiosity

My cat Toulouse is amazing. He loves to explore and he's very curious, and because of that, I have to keep him active. In this article, I'll be sharing two great food puzzles I have for Toulouse. Both are great for hard food or treats (I recommend Temptations—his absolute favorite), but not wet food.

Hiding treat-dispensing toys around the house is a great way to get your cat up and moving...or hunting!

Hiding treat-dispensing toys around the house is a great way to get your cat up and moving...or hunting!

1. Toy Mouse Treat-Dispenser (Beginner)

I found this little mouse on Amazon. It comes in a pack of four, and basically what you do is load the treat into the mice and hide them around your house. This stimulates your cat's natural instinct to hunt and look for it.

Say your cat is getting overweight; this can be a great way to get your cat up and active. A lot of cats become overweight because they're not active in the house—they don't play, they're not running around. They literally fall asleep on the couch, wake up, walk to their food bowl, and then go right back to the couch.

A food puzzle like this is going to make them look for their food. They don't have to be chasing it around, but it's just increasing their activity level.

Food puzzles with moving parts can help stimulate your cat and reduce boredom.

Food puzzles with moving parts can help stimulate your cat and reduce boredom.

2. Cat Treat Puzzle (Intermediate)

Now, this one has probably been my favorite buy for Toulouse, not only in regards to it being a food puzzle, but also to it being a toy. It's huge and it has these slidable pieces that move around to make the treats harder to access.

With this particular toy, there are a few different ways to hide the treats—some more challenging than others! This is considered an intermediate toy, but Toulouse has figured it out. (See the video above for a demo of this toy in action!)

Toulouse is kind of chunky, but he's not to the point where I feel like I need to be increasing his activity because I do walk him a lot. So this is usually a reward. I don't put treats in here every single day—it's something that I do maybe once or twice a week.

Other Ways to Stimulate an Indoor Cat

If you're just not into food puzzles, look for something else. Consider active playtime, two bouts of 15 to 30 minutes a day, or leash walking. Anything is better than nothing! You'll be so surprised by how much your cat's behavior can change by doing things such as working with food puzzles and playing or going on walks.

Activities like this can help to reduce anxiety and make for a happier, healthier cat!

© 2021 Brittney Kilgore