Often times, our cats don’t get enough exercise or mental stimulation in their daily lives. Brain games and food puzzles can help to give them an outlet for their energy even if we don’t have a ton of space for them to run and jump around. Any cat can benefit from incorporating brain games into their daily routine and every cat can be successful at them! We just have to figure out which games or food puzzles are motivating and interesting to them.
Each cat is different so you may have to experiment with different types and styles of puzzles to see what they will engage with. You may also have to start with a very basic puzzle if your cat is not used to doing any work in order to get food or treats and work your way up to more difficult puzzles. Starting with a high value treat is also a great way to introduce them to the concept of working/playing for their food.
Food Puzzles for Cats is a wonderful resource that gives many ideas of types of food puzzles you can buy or even make yourself. They also give a difficulty scale so that you know which ones may be better to start with and work up to.
I like to have a variety of food puzzles on hand in order to rotate them so that the cats don’t get bored. Imagine doing the same puzzle over and over every single day, it would no longer be a challenge and would get quite boring. We want food puzzles and brain games to challenge our cats a bit and get some of their brain energy out!
Here are just a couple of examples of food puzzles that cats enjoy.
Don’t give up too easily! If your cat is not into the food puzzles right away, that is okay! Most of our cats are used to being free fed all the time and have never had to work for any food or treats. This is why we start easy and work towards more difficult puzzles. If your cat is really snubbing the food puzzles, think about meal feeding instead of free feeding and put at least a portion of their meal into a food puzzle. You can also use treats that they like such as chicken, freeze dried duck, salmon, or just regular crunchy treats like temptations if they enjoy those.