I Bought a Pretty Slow-Feeder Puzzle I Kept Seeing on Instagram, and My Cats Love It
My Instagram ads get me about one in every 10 times, the latest of my influenced purchases being a slow-feeder puzzle for cats, an item I'd actually been considering buying a few months ago. Because I have two cats and they tend to graze throughout the day rather than immediately scarf their food down like dogs, it's very hard for me to control how much each of them eat. Though we give them a set amount every day, it's very clear that one of our cats grazes a heck of a lot more than the other, eating much more than her half share of the chicken-flavored chow.
I decided to try out a PetStages Interactive Cat Puzzle in the hopes that Grey — the chonkier of our two cats — would slow down her nibbling and become full before having the chance to devour half her food, as she'd have to work to get her kibble. That, and with my fiancé, the cats, and me all cooped up in a very small apartment, I thought it'd provide both girls with some much needed mental stimulation to offset all of the napping.
Keep scrolling to see a few photos and videos of my girls with their slow-feeder and to learn more about integrating a feeder puzzle into your cats' routine, then shop this exact style of puzzle all the way at the bottom!
The First Time They Saw the Puzzle!
It's recommended that in the very beginning, you show your cats the puzzle feeder with the food in the cups, uncovered, so that they understand it's a mealtime/treat toy.
Sniffing Around to Get a Feel For the Puzzle (and Competing For the Same Piece of Kibble, Naturally)
My cats sniffed around the puzzle for a while and slowly taught themselves how to fish out the kibble pieces — one prefers to swat the pieces out with her paw, the other likes to stuff her whole nose in the hole. In the beginning, they kept going for the same piece of kibble, because cats.
Learning How to Move the Raindrop Doors and Scoop Food Out
After Swayze got tired of the puzzle (she's our cat who eats to live, while Grey lives to eat), Grey got comfortable with swiveling the raindrop pieces to get to the food underneath. I kept closing them on her so that she got used to the action while she was invested in the puzzle, and she picked it up very quickly.
Learning How to Move the Sliders!
After learning how to move the raindrops, I showed Grey how to use the hollow sliders. Each slider has a hole at the top to drop food through, and once your cat moves the slider over one of the compartments, the food drops out the bottom. Grey struggled more with this level of the puzzle, but having the food sitting in there, available to sniff, definitely motivated her to figure it out.
There's also the wheel up top, which covers a bunch of food slots. This took Grey the longest to figure out, but after watching me spin it a few times, she gathered that it could move and eventually pieced together how to shift it with her paw on the textured top.
Thinking About the Days When Her Food Was Simply Placed in a Bowl
And that's about it! Once your cat knows all of the tricks of the trade, the puzzle can become a fun mealtime staple that keeps your fur babies sharp.
Full disclosure: this isn't working out *exactly* how I'd planned, as Swayze has shown zero interest in getting her food from the puzzle. So we're filling it up for Grey (it holds about 1/4 cup of food!) and giving them less food in their bowl so that Grey isn't eating any more than usual; and Swayze has quickly learned that if she wants to eat, she's gotta get in there early while Grey is still puzzling. It'd definitely be more fun if they both liked the feeder, but for now, I know that Grey is getting some mental stimulation and have noticed that she goes to the main bowl for food much less. A half-win, I think!
If you have one cat — or more than one, but they all like the feeder and want to use it — one of these puzzles could be a good solution for getting your cat to eat more mindfully and use their noggin each day.
Petstages Interactive Cat Puzzle — Rainy Day (Level 3)
Of this brand's slow-feeders, this Petstages Interactive Cat Puzzle — Rainy Day ($25) is considered to be of the most difficult, or level three.