When it comes to playtime, you don't necessarily connect it with mealtime. Cats, however, often link the two together, as the natural progression for them is, "hunt, kill, eat, clean, nap." Since house cats don't really have to do the whole "hunt" and "kill" portion of the routine, it helps when their people incorporate these two elements into their daily lives. The benefits of doing just that will include increased physical activity, heightened mental stimulation, and sharpened skills. Since you're not always around to encourage this form of play, interactive cat food dishes are a great option, and today, we will be looking into some of the best, most innovative options available and how they will help both you and your kitty.
There's a decent chance you've seen this particular interactive cat food dish floating around on the internet. There's a good reason for it: those trying to break away from the more traditional food bowls like the fact that this unique contraption serves multiple purposes. To begin, of course, it feeds your cat. Easy stuff. But rather than simply allowing them to munch away randomly, it encourages them to put in a bit of effort in order to get to their desired end. This is an extra bonus for some of the more gobblesome kitties out there. Next, it encourages both mental and physical activity, thus resulting in a smarter, fitter feline. Made up of a BPA-free plastic, this food tree measures about 12"x13.8"x10.6", has three difficulty settings, and holds roughly four cups of dry food at a time.
- Encourages both physical and mental play
- Simple to disassemble and clean
- Can be used as a standalone piece, or mingled with other Catit products, like the Digger or Grass Planter
- Despite the wide base and overall stability, especially clever cats may figure out how to topple this bowl
- Stubborn cats may lose interest quickly when they find themselves challenged
- This bowl is definitely larger than your standard dish, so it may not be suitable for smaller spaces
There is a lot of joy to be had from watching your kitty interact with his toys. And knowing that, in addition to stimulating his senses, you're also providing a good meal... well, that's just the best! If, like me, you really enjoy having something multi-purpose and functional, then this food tree is a good bet. However, peculiarly adroit cats may figure out how to "cheat the system" with this one, by knocking it down or breaking pieces off. Easily bored cats may simply refuse to use it at all, opting to bug you for food instead.
This Doc & Phoebe's feeder is designed by veterinarians, is award-winning, and is said to be the best way to feed your cat. Unlike the usual bowls you see around, this particular dish is really more of a system. Several small feeders are filled, separated, and placed in different locations around the house. The theory behind this is that regular bowls lead to over-feeding and general malaise; however, when cats are forced to use all of their instinctual skills, such as hunting and foraging, their lives are enhanced and their health increased. This device is made up of BPA-free, food-grade plastic, and has a "skin" that is made of a Rayon/Nylon material. Each feeder, or bowl, holds up to 1.6 Tablespoons of food, which can easily be measured out via the included perfectly portioned scoop. This whole package comes as a set and includes one trainer, five feeders and skins, and, of course, the scoop.
- Encourages play
- Stimulates instincts
- Dishwasher safe
- Has a bit of a learning curve in order to be useful
- The holes in the feeder are a little large for smaller brands of kibble, which means clever kitties can just flip them over to get to their food
- If you have a dog in the house, these things look like toys and smell like food... so they may end up going missing
As far as interactive cat feeders go, this product is very unique. It encourages cats to go through their whole "hunt, catch, kill" routine, thus providing a good deal of mental and, if you're creative in where you place them, physical stimulation. Another upside with this particular style of feeder is that it requires very little space. So long as you have a few quality spots to tuck these away, you'll be good to go! The downside to this, however, is that this kit is best suited for a single-cat household. If you have multiple cats around, you're left with two options: buy several kits or constantly refill the feeders. Another downside is that larger breeds of cat may require a higher daily allotment of food, which again, means that you'll likely be chasing down fake mice in order to keep your buddy well nourished.
Also designed by vets, this slow feeder works as both a bowl, and a maze-like puzzle. Created to discourage gobbling, this interesting puzzle feeder is a great option for overweight or food aggressive kitties, as it forces them to quite literally slow down and savor their food. It also encourages a bit of extra movement because, as the food is more spread out, the kitty is required to move from spot to spot in order to get to all of his meal. That whole business is compounded by the fact that this bowl is pretty large, measuring 10.2"x12.2"x1.6". In addition to being kind of adorable, it is also very durable, and is made up of an unusual, Eco-friendly rice husk and bamboo fiber material.
- Discourages undesirable behaviors like food gobbling and aggression
- Dishwasher safe
- At a solid 1.9 pounds, this bowl is unlikely to move no matter how vigorously your cat uses it
- The large size, though useful, may make it tricky to keep in smaller spaces
- Some cats may simply not take to this type of design, finding it too frustrating to use
- Because of the shape of the inner walls, cat breeds with shorter snouts, may find it difficult to eat directly from this bowl
All said, this is an excellent product, and especially so if your cats are having some food-related behavioral issues or weight problems. The brightly colored, cute design makes it pretty swell for the crazy cat people in all of us, while the biodegradable, earth and pet-friendly materials make it a choice you can feel good about. On the downside, some cats may shy away from this style of bowl, while certain breeds may find it out-and-out impossible to use.
One part toy, one part bowl, this interactive cat food dish can be used for either regular meal times or as a fun way to serve treats. This feeder is made up of a plastic dish where you place the dry kibble or treats, and a topper that boasts six different tunnels. The food then moves through the tunnel, where your cat can try to grab at it, pulling it onto the white base where he can finally enjoy his reward. As only a little can be pulled out at a time, this ensures that your cat eats a little more slowly, and also encourages plenty of exercise and deep thought. This bowl measures around 11”x11”x5.5”, and has a rubber ring at the bottom to prevent sliding during some of the more vigorous games.
- Easy to use, fill, and clean
- Sturdy, hard to tip base
- Easy for most kitties to figure out, but still challenging enough to slow down eating
- Some larger breed or stockier-bodied felines may find the tunnels too small
- May be a little too easy for especially savvy cats
- Smaller pieces of kibble may cause the tunnels to "jam up"
This is an interesting, fun choice that will work well for most cats. If your cuddly little buddy is a little too cuddly, just eats too quickly, or is simply hankering for a touch of extra stimulation, this feeder will likely do the trick. However, some cats will find the whole affair to be a little too simple, and may even figure out how to pull out larger portions of food when you're not looking. Clever little things!
Whether your kitty needs to shed some fluff, is itching for some mental or physical stimulation, or simply wants a fun way to get in some treats, interactive cat feeders are a great option. Not only will they help provide your cat with that extra bit of fun, they will also allow you to leave them to their daily eating routine without having to keep a constant watch. When it comes down to it, they are a marvelous option for everyone involved!
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