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Your Cats Are Happier When You Make Them Work For Their Food

Did you know that cats are natural foragers that enjoy finding their own food and denying them this opportunity can lead to behavioral problems?

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If you always keep your pet indoors for one reason or another, you may be doing more harm than good.

However, you can still keep the cat indoors and use food puzzles to avoid health and behavioral complications.

Researchers at the University of California have published a study in the "Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery" that proves the importance of using food puzzles.

The puzzles make the cats use their hunting instinct as they work for their food. As the cats "forage" for their food, they become more active and less demanding as their stress levels get down.

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There are different types of food puzzles that can be used with either dry or wet food.

Some of these puzzles are stationary and the cats need to navigate boards to reach their food while others are mobile, requiring the feline friends to roll or push them as they forage.

Create your own Puzzles

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If you love Do-It-Yourself projects, then you can easily make a food puzzle at home.

For example, you may cut holes in things like water bottles or egg cartons. You may even simply use a paper bag to let your pet use its natural instincts and desires!

Food Puzzles can Help with Cat Behavior Issues

The Berkeley-based scientists described more than 30 instances where they personally used food puzzles to help cats overcome specific behavioral or health problems.

One of the instances described the changes observed in an obese 8-year old shorthair cat, which lost 20% of its weight in just a year of implementing the food puzzle.

In another instance, a 3-year old male cat that had become aggressive changed its behavior in just six months of "foraging" using a food puzzle. Another example described the unusual fear of people experienced by a 2-year old cat.

The cat overcame the problem after starting using both stationary and mobile food puzzles.

How to pick a food puzzle for your cat

When you are looking for a suitable food puzzle for your feline friend, you must consider its preferences.

The researchers pointed out that different cats had different preferences as far as the puzzles were concerned.

You may have to use trial-and-error method before you get the type of puzzle that best suits your pet. You may even need to use different types of puzzles to ensure that the cat is engaged as much as possible.

Do not use the same puzzle for all your cats if you have several pets. In addition, it is recommended that you separate cats and dogs if you keep both types of pets.

It is a good idea to fill the puzzle to overflowing during the initial stages when the cat may find it more challenging to retrieve it. You can then gradually reduce the amount of food as the cat gets used to "foraging" for it.

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