Cat-tested food puzzles


I spent $82.87 on cat food puzzles. Here's what I learned.

Your canine and feline patients will love food puzzles too!

Food puzzles are more than a home enrichment product. They can reduce pets' stress at home, on the way to the veterinary visit and in the practice as well. Think about where food puzzles might offer a calming distraction: places like the exam room, treatment area and kennels. CVC educator Mikkel Becker, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, CDBC, CTC, KPA Graduate, explains the Fear Free benefits of food puzzles in practice (and offers some adorable canine photos and video of puzzles in action) here

I have a fat cat. Mercedes Beatrice (Maeby, for short) is a 6-year-old Siamese, and she's lazy as heck. Like, I leave the house in the morning and she's lying in front of the window. I come home 10 hours later and … she hasn't moved. Her great migration of the day is down two flights of stairs to the basement to poop in the most private litterbox of the house.

Her veterinarian has recommended a more interactive feeding experience-moving the location of her food bowl to make mealtimes more interactive. To increase the challenge, we started looking at food puzzles.

Here's Maeby's review of five food puzzle options:

Want a human perspective? Here's a quick summary of each product from a practical pet owner point-of-view. (And remember, food puzzles are a great Fear Free strategy for your practice. Here's a quick guide of when and how to use them.)

Trixie Fun Board 

I paid: $27.81

Amazon customer rating: 4.5 stars (at time of publication)

So I admit this was the one I was most drawn to. Featuring five "games," it seemed like a no-brainer. What's funnier than watching a cat try to fish fake fish from a fishbowl? Then there's the wavy plastic river and the peg board that force kitty to use her moderate problem-solving ability to retrieve the kibble. Or she can hunt in the "mouse" tunnel or the tiny shallow ice-cube-like trays.

Honestly, now that I think of it, I bet you could get a good result by feeding a kitty out of ice cube trays. It would be a lot cheaper too.

Dishwasher safe! Cause that kibble is kinda gross, especially when it's covered in cat slobber. And it's only a matter of time before she herks on it. Really, I'm just counting the minutes.


Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree  

I paid: $19.99

Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (at time of publication)

Totally the best packaging of any of the products. Who doesn't want a cat food tree that features a kitty blasting off to the moon on it? It's silly, but that definitely elevated the purchasing experience for me. (Don't judge-I'm not the only one. Check out the research!)

As I've mentioned, Maeby isn't your most, err, svelte kitty. I was a little afraid she might tip this particular feeder. And if you notice, it does tilt a bit when she's getting into it, but it doesn't ever appear truly unstable. In fact, it promises a "new and improved" design with a wider base for more stability. (Note: After a week of use, she's still not ever knocked it over, even though she's eating from it full time instead of a bowl.)

So the bummer is that you've gotta wash it by hand. But you can add on to this toy to create a kitty complex with other Senses 2.0 products.  


Catch Interactive Feeder for Cats 

I paid: $15.59

Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (at time of publication)

So I was pretty impressed by the amount of research that went into this product's design. Created by Company of Animals, it's got some nice science behind its oddly mountainous design, which is supposed to resemble swollen purple blades of grass, with an ergonomic design to inspire her natural hunting instincts. Really. Don't believe me? See what they say in their product listing.

It was clearly a hit from the beginning, and the design is low-profile to fit in the same space as a cat bowl.


PetSafe SlimCat Meal Dispensing Cat Toy, Blue 

I paid: $3. 89

Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (at time of publication)

Dishwasher safe! Can I tell you how much I love that?! And it's by far the cheapest. She caught on immediately, and the dispensing holes are adjustable, so the challenge can be increased to encourage her to move more. The food dispensing means she slows down to eat each kibble, extending mealtime.


Trixie Turn Around Cat Activity

I paid: $15.69

Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (at time of publication)

Some assembly required! Not hard, but you will need a screwdriver. It took me less than five minutes (and a good part of that was finding the correctly sized Phillips head screwdriver). Maeby could smell the treats, but she never quite caught on to tip the beakers. And the beakers take some light pawing to swing (a stiff breeze won't stir it), so this puzzle may be a next-step food puzzle for clever cats looking for a challenge. When assisted with the tipping, Maeby enjoyed fishing the treats out of the peg board.

Not all food puzzles are equal. Learn more about the difficulty levels of food puzzles here

What toys and food puzzles do you recommend? Snap photos (or better-video!-your iPhone video works just fine) and send them to us for our next product roundup. We'll pay $25 for each review (photo or video and 50 words about you, what your patients or personal pets like or don't like about the products). Happy shopping!

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