A very interesting study was published the Sept 2016 issue of Feline Medicine and Surgery. The study examined the use of
food puzzles as a way to provide environmental enrichment for our cats.
Food puzzles are a relatively new area of study, and take advantage of cats’ natural instinct to hunt and work for their food – the benefits it provides are mental stimulation, as well as increased physical activity. There are a variety of styles available, and options for both purchasing and DIY.
The article covers some tips on how to introduce food puzzles to your cat, as well as a chart to help you determine the best starter puzzle. There are also tips for troubleshooting potential challenges, such as owner concerns about night-time noise or having food scattered around the home.
Given time, patience and appropriate introduction, most, if not all, cats can adjust to food puzzles.
Most cats learn to hate carriers because they associate the carrier with a bad experience – it comes out once a year or so, and means a trip to the vet’s office!
But a carrier is an important part of life for our feline friends, so here are some tips for helping your cat learn to like the carrier:
Start by just leaving your carrier out in the house, so your cat can get used to it. Open it up, and block the door, so that your cat can investigate if they want to.
Make the carrier attractive to your cat – add some comfy bedding, and then a favorite toy or some catnip.
Once your cat is feeling comfortable with the carrier, try closing the door for a few minutes while she is inside – leave the room, and come back and give her a treat when you open it back up.
Once she is feeling comfortable with that process, try walking around the house for a few minutes once you have closed the door. Then, set it down, and give her a treat again when you open it back up.
When that part is going well, try taking for her a short drive – even just around the block – and reward her again with a treat once you’re back inside. Your cat will learn that the carrier and the car don’t always mean a trip to the scary vet.
In moderation. Just like humans, cats can have treats in moderation. The other day I was getting a treat out of the cupboard for one of my cats and I actually looked a how many treats the manufacturer recommends that I give. My portion control was about right. But, it made me want to be diligent about what kind of treats I should give to my cats. I want to make sure that the treats I give out are safe, nutritious and can fit into the cat’s daily nutrition requirements.
Look for low calorie treats. Do not underestimate or ignore the calories in your cat’s daily calorie count. Avoid treats which have high sugar, treats that are meant for dogs, or are high in calorie.
According to Catnip Magazine’s December 2015 issue, “If you are thinking of making your own homemade treats, beware of certain potentially dangerous ingredients such onions and garlic, processed meats, and baby food with additives.”
Giving your cat a treat or two now and then is an excellent way to strengthen the human-animal bond and enhance your relationship with your cat. Give it a try!