Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 2, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Foraging toys, also knows as food puzzles or puzzle toys, are a great way to engage cats’ senses by bringing out their natural hunting instinct. I love the concept behind these toys, but for obvious reasons, they can’t be used with canned or raw food. I am a firm advocate that cats should never eat dry food, but you can still take advantage of these toys by using freeze dried treats instead of dry food. And while I don’t recommend feeding a lot of fish based food or treats, tuna flakes work well for these toys, since you only need a very small amount to satisfy your little hunter.
Here are some three of our favorite food puzzle toys:
Jackson Galaxy Go Fish by Petmate
Simply springle treats among the fish tails and watch kitty fish them into the trough surrounding the toy. The tails rotate easily so you can change up the puzzle to keep it interesting for your cats. Tails are removable for cleaning and the toy us dishwasher safe. Available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.
Petsafe Fishbowl Treat Dispensing Toy
This is a great food dispensing toy for kitties who have never used one of these toys before. Dishwasher safe, top rack only. Available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.
Catit Senses Treat Maze
This is one of the best designed food puzzle toys I’ve seen. It features side cut-outs, so cats move treats through the maze by pawing at it through the openings. As the treats moves through the maze, they collect in the food tray at the bottom of the maze. You can create varying levels of difficulty by rotating the disc located inside the maze to increase or decrease the openings. Added bonus: an accu-pressure mat that provides pressure point paw massage! Available from Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.
New on the Market: The NoBowl Feeding System
When I was at the American Association of Feline Practitioners Conference in DC last month, I saw an innovative new product that was designed with the idea to eliminated bowl feeding altogether and only feed cats with foraging toys. The NoBowl Feeding System is designed to be used with dry food or treats. The creators of the system believe that how cats are fed is as important as what feds are fed, and recommend decreasing the amount of raw or wet food and feed the remaining daily ration as dry food or treats.
While I can’t quite get behind this recommendation, I like the design of the NoBowl Feeding System and since it CAN be used with freeze dried treats, I want to introduce you to it. The system includes plastic “naked bowls” and “skins.” The skins add an element that I’ve not seen with other puzzle toys, giving the toy a more “mouse like” texture and feel. We were given a system, and Allegra and Ruby enjoy using it with freeze dried treats and tuna flakes.
The NoBowl System is a great solution for cat parents who insist on leaving some dry food out during the day. Even though I don’t recommend free choice feeding, because it’s one of the leading reasons for many of the degenerative diseases we’re seeing in cats, using the NoBowl System or other foraging toys instead is preferable to simply leaving food in a bowl all day.
For more information about the NoBowl Feeding System, please visit www.nobowlcat.com.
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.