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|| Why Use Enrichment Feeders? ||

Enrichment feeders are tools and toys that create a more engaging and interactive experience for your cat while they consume their meal or extra treats. Because mealtime is often a highlight of the day for our feline friends, why not make the most of it? In addition, cats are traditional hunters and foragers, so giving your cat with the opportunity to ‘work’ for their food can be very mentally satisfying.

There are many benefits to using enrichment tools and toys to deliver your cat’s daily meals:

  • Improves satiety because food takes longer to consume
  • Provides mental stimulation and the experience of foraging
  • Extends the meal, allowing cats to savour their food
  • Increases problem-solving skills and provides brain exercise
  • Can reduce gas and improve digestion as cats cannot ‘gulp’ their food
  • Expends energy (mental and physical) which can help with both weight loss and behavioural management efforts

|| What Precautions Should I Take? ||

(1) Consider your cat’s daily caloric budget – ensure that the total of their kibble, wet food, and any additional treats ALL fit within this budget to keep your companion fit and healthy.

(2) Ensure that you are rigorous about cleaning the feeders (which often have more nooks and corners than standard bowls)  – particularly if using wet food in them.

(3) Always supervise your cat while they are using their enrichment feeder.

(4) Keep in mind that these methods of dining can sometimes be a bit messier. Because of this, consider offering them in an area with easy clean-up such as a placement underneath the feeder.

|| What Kind of Enrichment Feeders Are Available? ||

Slow Feeders:
Slow feeders are cat feeders that have obstructions built into them (often resembling mazes or a series of upward spokes) that create obstacles that your cat must work around to get to their food.

Puzzle Feeders:
Puzzle feeders are structured food bowls and dispenser toys that give cats obstacles to navigate in order to reach their food. Cats need to actively problem-solve to flip or slide puzzle elements to find their reward.

Automated Food Dispensers:
These machines dispense food on a schedule, or on-demand from a device – this means you can offer several small meals throughout the day even if you are at work, or can provide entertainment by dispensing a ‘surprise’ treat from time to time.

Food Dispensing Toys:
Some toys are designed so that treats can be hidden inside, requiring a specific movement to slide or rock them out. These feeders have the benefit of encouraging additional exercise as your cat chases, tips, or bounces the toy across the floor! Look for options that are sturdy and easy to clean.

Toys For Stuffing:
Other toys have hollow areas to stuff or wedge food for your cat to work at removing. Spreading treats (like a small amount of wet food or a squeezable treat) on a flat textured rubber mat can also provide a lot of entertainment as they lick off every morsel.

Snuffle Mats:
These mats with densely layered strips of material offer hiding places for dry treats. Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell, so it is a particularly rewarding activity for them to sniff out all the goodies.

Want to learn more?
Check out all the great suggestions to be found over at Food Puzzles for Cats!