THE FINICKY CAT BY ARDEN MOORE
Don’t miss a golden opportu- nity to tap the hunter prowl- ing inside your indoor cat
— especially if you live with a feline
foodie who is also quite curious.
Avoid getting into a mealtime
feeding rut in which you measure
out your cat’s food, scoop it into a
stainless steel bowl, and place the
filled bowl on the kitchen floor for
him to eat.
Your indoor cat needs and
deserves to be mentally and physically challenged every day, so go
bowl-less on occasion. Instead, make
your cat work for his meal or treat
by placing the food inside a food
puzzle made especially for felines.
I’ve learned the many benefits
of food puzzles from leading feline
experts, like C.A. Tony Buffington,
D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN, Emeritus pro-
fessor of veterinary clinical sciences
at The Ohio State University College
of Veterinary Medicine. He said,
“Encourage your cat to hunt for
his food on occasion by using food
puzzles. Food puzzles stimulate a
cat’s brain as well as improve mus-
Your cat is also less apt to misbe-
have because you are channeling his
thoughts and actions into a positive
outlet. Trust me. I live with Casey, an
orange tabby Einstein who loves to
eat, and he puts the “C” in curious.
To keep Casey at a healthy weight
and jazz up meals and treat times,
I have trained him to come when
called, sit on cue, and give me a soft
paw touch to my hand before I put
down his bowl, before I hand him a
treat, and before I put down a food
puzzle toy filled with healthy treats.
Some days I swear he is training
me. I stashed his favorite treat puzzle
— the Wobbert by Friskies — inside
the top drawer in my nightstand.
Every time I open this drawer, Casey
zooms into my bedroom, leaps up
on the nightstand, and begins pointing out the food puzzle to me with
And to see if he really is a 21st
century-thinking cat, I tested him
using the high-tech Petzi Treat Cam.
I load up his treats inside the white
container and, using my smart phone
or iPad, I can activate the treat cam,
call to Casey, and watch him scurry
over as I dispense treats remotely.
For more insights on the array of
feline food puzzles from high-tech
to no-tech, I reached out to the person who probably tests more pet
products than anyone else: Stacy
Mantle, founder of Pets Weekly.com.
Catster: What advice can you offer
about making smart shopping
decisions on food puzzles?
Stacy: Remember that all cats
have individual personalities, and
making an effort to understand your
cat’s personal preferences will go
a long way toward fostering that
human-cat connection. We have
several cats, and each of them has
a different approach to food and
A few of our semi-feral cats
become stressed when faced with a
new toy. If we attempt to introduce
new toys at feeding time, they just
refuse to eat. So we have to make
changes gradually and introduce
new stimuli slowly.
I recommend that people experiment with new toys outside of mealtime first. Presenting new toys alone,
or with treats (rather than food), is a
good way to see what types of toys
cats prefer. Some like to hunt their
food; others prefer to not be bothered while eating.
What’s your take on food puzzle
toys for cats? Are they increasing
in popularity? How can they benefit indoor cats?
People still are growing accustomed to the idea of food puzzle
toys. I do think they are growing in
popularity, but it’s a slower growth
than, say, dog puzzle toys. Cat
parents need to remember that
Send your feline food-related questions to Catster
CURIOUS ABOUT YOUR
magazine feline nutrition columnist Arden Moore,
who will dish out advice about healthy eating habits for your feline. Email
your questions today to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAT’S EATING HABITS?