My Indoor Cat

9 Food Puzzles for Cats Your Indoor Cat Will Love

food puzzles for cats

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Cats are natural foragers and hunters. When they become indoor pets, our homes provide fewer opportunities for them to do these things. It’s our responsibility to ensure that we recreate this for them.  Cat puzzle feeders are an excellent way to offer hunting, foraging, and healthy eating habits to your indoor cat.

We will cover all the benefits of food puzzles for cats, from maintaining a healthy weight to stimulating their active mind. We’ll cover some of the best options for all types of foods, from the easiest to the hardest. 

If you’re interested in making puzzle feeders, we’ve got you covered there, too. We’ll also explain how to train your cat to use a puzzle feeder.

Are Food Puzzles Good for Cats?

food puzzle for cats
Image Credit: Getty Images via Canva Pro

Indoor cats need food puzzles because they do not have the opportunity to hunt for their food as wild cats do. Cats must use their natural hunting instincts and physical abilities to catch and consume their prey in the wild. This process provides them with mental and physical stimulation, which helps keep them healthy and happy.

Indoor cats, however, do not have the opportunity to hunt for food. This can lead to boredom and inactivity, contributing to various health problems such as obesity, dental issues, and even behavioral problems. Food puzzles can help provide indoor cats with mental and physical stimulation they would otherwise be missing, helping to keep them healthy and happy.

Food puzzles come in various shapes and sizes and can be filled with dry or wet food. They can be as simple as a cardboard box with a few holes cut out or as complex as a multi-level toy that dispenses food as the cat plays with it.

These toys can provide much-needed mental and physical stimulation by forcing the cat to use its natural problem-solving skills and physical abilities to access its food.

In summary, food puzzles can help to keep indoor cats mentally and physically active, which can help to prevent boredom and related health problems. This process increases the length of meals, increases the physical exertion related to obtaining food, and mentally stimulates them. 

Scientific studies have proven many benefits of the use of cat food puzzles:

  • Reducing signs of stress
  • Reducing anxiety and fear
  • Decreasing aggression
  • Contributing to weight loss
  • Eliminating attention-seeking behavior
  • Eliminating bathroom issues

Your cat is naturally hard-wired to hunt. Domestication has not changed this. By feeding them consistently from a food bowl, we take away this activity, which can lead to unhealthy characteristics like overweight cats.

This is why they need stimulation like puzzle feeders. They give them back the complexities of figuring out how to get their food and stimulate their minds. So, if your cat seems bored, a puzzle feeder may be what they need.

How Do Puzzles Feed Cats?

DIY food puzzles for cats
Image Credit: Getty Images via Canva Pro

Puzzles make it a challenge for your cat to get at their food. They come in a variety of options. The basic concept is that they will have to manipulate the puzzle until the food releases, playing on their natural tendency to forage or hunt. 

You place the food inside the device and provide it to your cat. They will then have the opportunity to work the puzzle to get their dinner. This can be through digging out the kibble from tubes or knocking the puzzle around until the food falls out of various holes. 

If you feed them wet food, they will have to learn how to lick it out of various channels. This will bring out their creative side so they can get to all the food available. 

Puzzle feeders are a great option for those cats that scoff down their food.  They slow down their eating speed helping prevent tummy upsets and rapid weight gain. With the increased energy spent on getting its food, your cat will be more likely to expend more calories than they take in, keeping them at a healthy weight.

Types of Food Puzzles for Cats

food puzzles for cats amazon
Different food puzzles for cats found on Amazon.

There are many excellent food puzzles for cats. They come in different shapes and sizes. Each one presents a different challenge for your cat. Some are more difficult than others. There are stationary, rolling, and wet food puzzle feeders.  We have reviewed some cat food puzzles below to give you the best choices.

Best Interactive Cat Feeders

As their name implies, stationary puzzles don’t move around but may have moving parts. The main goal of these feeders is to slow down your fast-eating cat.

puzzle food bowl for cats

CATCH Interactive Food Bowl

This puzzle food bowl for cats is shaped like grass. Your cat uses its paws to push or grab the food between the smoothly rounded spikes.

Suitable for wet and dry food, this interactive puzzle feeder is dishwasher safe, phthalate, and BPA free.

It looks like rubber but is hard plastic. It is best sat on a mat or carpet as it will slide on hard flooring.

cat puzzle feeder 1

Catit Slow Puzzle Feeder

If your cat is a forager who enjoys digging, this intermediate-level foraging cat puzzle is perfect for them. Your cat will have to dig their food out of different-sized tubes.

Suitable for dry cat food, it has a rubber mat for stability and can be added with other items from the Catit Senses range – creating an entire playground for your indoor kitty.

puzzle feeders for cats

Interactive Cat Feeder Puzzle

This feeder puzzle has everything your cat needs for hours of interactive play. Just add her favorite food, treats, or toys to one of the three inner boxes. Change the boxes around regularly, so she doesn’t get used to the hiding spots.

Crafted from double-walled corrugated cardboard with cat-safe plant-based inks, it is safe for your kitty, and they will love it too.

cat feeding toy

Trixie Mad Scientist Cat Puzzle Food Toy

Pop some treats or dry cat food into the beakers and watch as your cat learns to access the food they will need to flip them over.

Start with no lids to make it easier, then add lids as your cat learns what to do. Includes six lids (3 with 3 x holes and 3 with 1 x hole).

This is one to consider if you have time to train your cat initially. It will then keep them entertained for hours!

Best Cat Treat Dispenser Toys

Treat dispenser toys, and rolling puzzles move around while your cat interacts with them. These puzzles recreate the hunting experience that your cat lacks while living indoors. They will get more exercise and burn more calories while getting their food this way. Additionally, they will get more stimulation.

cat food toy dispenser

Ethical Pet Products Indoor Hunter Toy

Fill these mice-shaped cat dispenser toys with their favorite treats or kibble and watch your cat hunt and play as they would with a real mouse.

Your cat can throw it around just like it would in the wild. It comes with an adjustable opening to accommodate different-sized foods. 

cat food ball

PetSafe Budget Cat Food Ball

Combine food time and playtime with a rolling feeder ball for cats. The opening is 0.4 inches wide and is adjustable for more difficulty or smaller kibble sizes.

Priced under $10, this cat food ball is available in 4 different colors. Your cat will nudge it with his nose and bump it with his paws to allow the kibble to fall out.

cat food puzzle toy

PetStages Buggin’ Out Puzzle n Play

16 moveable pieces keep your cat busy foraging for kibble and using their hunting instincts with this sweet food toy.

This food puzzle for cats has no removable parts, so you won’t be looking around the house for missing pieces.

The downside is you can’t take it apart to clean it, but it is washable with soap and water.

Wet Food Puzzles for Cats

Wet food puzzles are designed to be used with wet cat food. If you have a cat that gobbles down its wet food, these are ideal for slowing down its eating. 

The Lickimat 

cat food puzzle for wet food

Lickimat Felix Wet Food Feeder

Available in two designs and three colors, Felix (pictured) has larger spaces for chunky cat food, kittens, or senior cats, and Casper (2nd design) has smaller spaces for a harder challenge and adult cats.

Perfect for cats that eat too quickly, these food mats don’t require much effort from you. Fill with food and handwash when your cat has finished.

Also available in a TUFF version which is dishwasher-safe and chewable.

The Rainy Day Puzzy by Nina Ottoson

puzzle feeders for wet cat food

Rainy Day Puzzle by Nina Ottoson

Stimulate your cat’s natural foraging instincts with the wet and dry food puzzle. Cats hunt for their reward by batting the pegs and swatting the raindrops to reveal hidden treats.

Free from BPA, Phthalates and made with food-safe materials, you can rest assured your cat can have fun eating from this puzzle safely.

No parts come off the puzzle to minimize lost pieces; you can hand wash it in soapy water to clean.

DIY Food Puzzles for Cats

If you’d rather make your puzzle feeder, the good news is you don’t have to be super crafty or buy a lot of materials. You can use many household materials to make a very effective puzzle for your cat in just a few minutes. 

One example requires only a paper towel roll, scissors, and some tape. You can make a simple paper towel roll ball with these materials. Your cat will have a great toy as well as an excellent way to provide stimulated feeding. This video shows you how:

You can make your own puzzles like the Catit Senses 2.0 Digger with a few toilet paper rolls and a flat piece of cardboard. This one can be set up however you want by gluing the rolls to the cardboard. Your cat will have to forage in the rolls for their food, having a fun, interactive dining experience.

The options are endless when it comes to making your cat puzzle feeder. You can use almost any household material. It’s cheaper than store-bought options and allows you to use your crafty side. 

How Do You Train a Cat to Use a Puzzle Feeder?

Puzzle feeders present a challenge for cats, so it is important to slowly introduce them to the feeders rather than suddenly providing all of their food in this way. This will help to prevent the pet from becoming frustrated and overwhelmed.

If switching to a puzzle feeder as the only way your cat receives food, do this gradually. Your cat will need some time to adjust to puzzle feeders.

Make sure the feeder is set on the easiest setting for food release, and fill it with enough food to ensure it comes out easily. You want to make the introduction as simple as possible so they can grasp the feeder’s concept. You can also try using a clear feeder so that they can see the food inside it to increase their interest.

Try placing food around the puzzle feeder to get their attention. This will help them associate it with food and draw them to it.

As they become better at using the feeder and if they don’t show signs of stress, increase the amount of food they get from their feeder and decrease the amount in the bowl. Once they have adjusted to using the puzzle feeder, you can increase the difficulty level with harder puzzles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cat feeder puzzles be used as a sole source of food?

Yes, a cat feeder puzzle can be your cat’s sole food source once you have successfully transitioned them to using the puzzle. Introduce the puzzle gradually, offering some food from a bowl as well. Gradually work up to the puzzle as the primary way of receiving food.

How do I clean a cat food puzzle?

Most plastic cat food puzzles can be cleaned with dish soap and warm water. Some can be placed on the top rack of the dishwasher. Check the instructions on the puzzle packaging or instruction manual.

Can cat food puzzles help with weight management for my cat?

Yes, food puzzles are an excellent way to slow cats eating, making them move more and work harder to obtain their food, mimicking how they would act in the wild. If your cat is overweight, the puzzle’s difficulty may mean they eat less, and the interaction with the puzzle has them moving more. This could lead to weight loss.

Can cat food puzzles be used for wet food?

lickimat cat feeder

Yes, some food puzzles for cats are designed for wet food and raw food use, such as the Lickimat.

Can food puzzles be used for cats of all ages?

Food puzzles can be used for cats of all ages, but it’s important to consider your cat’s specific needs and abilities. Some food puzzles may be too difficult for young kittens or seniors with mobility issues, while others may not provide enough of a challenge for more active or food-motivated cats.

How do I choose the right puzzle feeder for my cat?

It’s generally best to start with a relatively simple puzzle and gradually increase the difficulty as your cat becomes more proficient at solving it. This can help prevent frustration and ensure your cat remains engaged and motivated.

How often should I replace a cat food puzzle toy?

Inspect your cat’s feeder puzzle regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks, chips, or other damage. If the puzzle is starting to show signs of wear, it may be time to replace it.


best food puzzles for cats

Food puzzles for cats are a necessary element of indoor cat care. They provide the vital foraging and hunting experience that your cat is missing by being inside. They will help keep them at a healthy weight and help prevent behavioral problems like aggression and overgrooming.

These feeders are easy to use, and your cat will quickly pick up on how to get their food. By gradually decreasing the amount of food offered in their food bowl and slowly increasing the amount offered in the feeder, you will have your cat transitioned in no time.

You can buy one of many excellent feeders from Amazon or Chewy or make your own. Store-bought options have various difficulties, so you can gradually increase the level as your cat adjusts. Homemade puzzle feeders can be made with nearly anything you have at hand.

To make the most out of feeding time and to keep your cat healthy, you need to implement a cat puzzle feeder. Whether you make it yourself or buy it from a store is up to you. Food puzzles keep your cat stimulated and helps them keep their weight at a healthy level.

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