The study, published this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, argues that food puzzles stimulate your cat's natural hunting instincts.
Mikel Delgado is the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher on cat behaviour. He said: “Before cats were domesticated, they lived in the wild where they hunted for food. Then humans came along and took their jobs away.”
The benefits of a hard days work
A previous paper also argued that food puzzles can help cats with weight loss, anxiety, and other behavioural issues, such as toilet “accidents.”
There are all kinds of food puzzles, but even the most basic can help improve your cat's mental and physical health. Simply hiding a few bits of food around the house is a great way to get a cat started.
“When starting out with a food puzzle,” Delgado said. “It’s important to make it easy for the cat at first, so they can figure it out and not become frustrated. At the same time, you want to make sure it’s challenging enough that it provides some activity and mental stimulation.”
Food puzzles are especially good for housecats, who are at risk of becoming frustrated with their environment.
The life of a housecat
Because while the life a house cat may look appealing on the outside, a lack of stimulation can have a dramatic effect on their long-term cognitive function. Kitty expert Dr Stephanie Globerman believes a “lack of mental stimulation can result in up to 30% loss of brain function over time in both animals and humans.”
Having something to stalk, hunt, or simply figure out provides a much-needed outlet for a cats natural hunting instincts. In other words, food puzzles can encourage your cat to do what a cat was meant to do.