Your cats' favorite puzzle feeders? (Difficulty level: carpets)
October 20, 2021 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Hildegard Gideon Catt is clever, easily bored, and highly food-motivated. I would like to get her a couple of puzzle feeders for her entertainment and mine. Does your cat have a favorite? Anything that needs to roll around on a hard surface is a bit difficult because my apartment has wall-to-wall carpeting.
posted by Jeanne to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I bought this one for Hildegard's spiritual twin. She likes it a lot but I use it for rattle-ish treats, not actual food. I put it away for a few weeks then bring it out again, and put different toys in it sometimes (coils! crinkle balls! etc). That seems to help keep her interested. (also I rub catnip into the grass sometimes. all the cool kids are doing it)
posted by nkknkk at 4:09 PM on October 20, 2021

Hildegarde Johnson really likes Petstages Buggin' Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy!

The roly toys still work on carpet, I just sit them on a paper plate because I don't like the idea of them eating off of where people bring their shoe germs (can't find a link for the one we have but they're everywhere)
posted by bleep at 4:29 PM on October 20, 2021

She's a beauty!

Lady Sage loves her Trixie board. I also got her the Mad Scientist, but she's not very into it -- happy to ship to you if Hildegard Gideon Catt would like it.
posted by wicked_sassy at 5:00 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

What you want is an endless supply of puzzles specifically matched to her abilities and interests, and slowly increasing in difficulty as she learns. And for it to be free :)

Just start making them yourself out of small/medium cardboard boxes. This way, you have a fresh new one regularly, and you will learn how to adjust the difficulty yourself -- different sized openings, different degree of difficulty getting the lid open (if you just don't use openings), different proportions/thicknesses/weights of boxes.

I started with an empty long facial tissue (Kleenex) box -- just dropped a treat in there. It's interesting! Watch her figure out how to be faster and faster with it, or destroy the box to make it trivial to get the treat. Then you can graduate to one of those more square/taller tissue boxes -- the challenge is slightly different, slightly more difficult because it's taller. Then you'll start finding other boxes, making holes of various sizes, learning to communicate to her "there's a treat in there!" and learning how much she likes tearing up things or figuring things out.

I mean, it can be enrichment for you, too! Also: reuse is the best recycling!
posted by amtho at 6:15 PM on October 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I got two Nina Ottoson puzzles for the cats. They are large and stable. I'm in the U.S. but that link goes to a non-U.S. site. I bought mine from (or maybe it was another online pet stuff purveyor). This one is by the favorite. The challenge slider was too finicky (the grooves need to be aligned fairly precisely) for my cat who is the destroyer of all the things. If you are in the U.S. I think has a few similar puzzles currently on sale.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:44 PM on October 20, 2021

I agree with amtho's suggestion to make your own as well -- toilet paper tubes taped to the floor work well and I've also used the plastic tray from mochi ice cream boxes.

But will cheerfully admit that having something that was sturdy and stable and could be left out indefinitely was the lure that got me to pay for a new toy.

I also use one of those tri-level ball towers as a kibble dispenser, I just put a few pieces on each level and the cats can paw them out. It's not really a puzzle, but it does slow them down a bit.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:48 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

There's a thing called snuffle feeders that are meant for canine enrichment. But I wonder if a cat might also participate. You just scatter the food in amongst the various pieces of fabric, and they have to forage for the food. This is one example - there are many many more. They also come in ball-shapes. And here's one that specifically shows a cat in the photo...
posted by hydra77 at 6:50 PM on October 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh! The snuffle mat suggestion reminded me that the most exciting (to the cats) upcycled puzzle feeder is a sheet of crumpled up packing paper that has been spread out again to be semi-flat but has enough nooks and crannies and caverns to toss kibble into and for the cats to rummage and discover. I was buying too much stuff from the online version of goodwill last year and almost everything came with a crumpled up sheet or two of packing paper. So much fun for the cats.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:57 PM on October 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have a similar one to this. The main part that works great is those little moveable cup parts...the other parts, the digging the pieces out...they're too good at it now.

My cats found this one though, too difficult. That main disc is very stiff and I think they didn't understand that it moves and creates access to food.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:07 AM on October 21, 2021

My cat really likes the Trixie activity boards. The one that he had the most challenge with and thus kept him busy longest was the cat version of this one but they seem to only make the dog version now. Fortunately, he still seems to enjoy it even though it doesn't take more than a few minutes to figure out how to open it up the first time.
posted by litera scripta manet at 6:53 AM on October 21, 2021

My cat solves advanced slider puzzle feeders in about two seconds and then gives me a look of utter disdain. Once he solves them once, he's too bored of them to bother. The only thing he consistently likes is a shoebox filled with ping pong balls, and a palmful of treats mixed in. Then he gets to dig through the ping pong balls, flinging them out of the box!

(and then gets to enjoy the sight of me gathering up all the ping pong balls.)
posted by egeanin at 11:37 AM on October 21, 2021 [2 favorites]

Here's the Nina Ottoson U.S. distribution link. I liked the suggestions on difficulty level on the main Ottoson site as well. I hadn't realized that I could drop kibble into the little holes!
posted by spamandkimchi at 12:36 PM on October 21, 2021

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