Hunting feeders are the 2018 buzz words for cats. When you understand the science, it’s easy to see why.
Cats have an innate need to hunt, catch, and play with multiple small meals every day–not eat from a bowl. Cats kept indoors are safer from infectious disease and accidents, but when we fail to meet their natural needs, we are creating a whole new syndrome of disease.
I am calling it “indoorosis.” This syndrome includes obesity, urinary tract disease, and behavior problems, which can be the deadliest of all. Behavior problems are the number-one reason people surrender their cats to shelters, and many of those cats don’t find new homes.
Giving cats the ability to hunt for their food in the house is part of the cure for indoorosis. Cats need some time to adjust to new devices, so please be patient if they take some time to get used to this new method of feeding. In the end, you’ll both like it better.
Hunting In Three Easy Steps
Start with a training feeder that has lots of dispensing holes and rolls easily. Your cat should be able to see and smell the food with ease. Put food and your cat’s favorite treat into the trainer at bedtime. Pick up the food bowl overnight so your cat can explore the trainer in private.
Once your cat has the hang of the trainer, put a small portion of food and treats into the feeder, and give your cat time to explore. Again, I like to pick up the food bowl during this time so the cat is not distracted.
- Cats are solitary hunters. They like to investigate new things alone. Try picking up the food dish and leaving the trainer/feeders out overnight or when you are out for the day.
- Make it worth it! Add a new and exciting food or treat to the feeders. Appetite helps overcome shyness.
- Many cats prefer fabric to plastic. Try removing the fabric skin from the feeder and putting food and treats directly into the fabric. When your cat has the hang of it, put the fabric skin back on the plastic inner container and carry on. Fabric-loving cats can skip the trainer entirely.
Armed with patience, information and the necessary tools, we can help cure feline indoorosis! Let’s start now. Our cats are worth it!
This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.
Published February 22, 2018