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Food puzzles for cats: feeding for physical and emotional wellbeing

By L. M. S. Dantas, M. M. Delgado, I. Johnson, C. A. T. Buffington

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Practical relevance: Many pet cats are kept indoors for a variety of reasons (eg, safety, health, avoidance of wildlife predation) in conditions that are perhaps the least natural to them. Indoor housing has been associated with health issues, such as chronic lower urinary tract signs, and development of problem behaviors, which can cause weakening of the human-animal bond and lead to euthanasia of the cat. Environmental enrichment may mitigate the effects of these problems and one approach is to take advantage of cats' natural instinct to work for their food. Aim: In this article we aim to equip veterinary professionals with the tools to assist clients in the use of food puzzles for their cats as a way to support feline physical health and emotional wellbeing. We outline different types of food puzzles, and explain how to introduce them to cats and how to troubleshoot challenges with their use. Evidence base: The effect of food puzzles on cats is a relatively new area of study, so as well as reviewing the existing empirical evidence, we provide case studies from our veterinary and behavioral practices showing health and behavioral benefits resulting from their use.

Publication Title Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Volume 18
Issue 9
Pages 723-732
ISBN/ISSN 1098-612X
DOI 10.1177/1098612x16643753
Language English
Author Address Behavioral Medicine Service, University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Athens, Georgia,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal ecology
  3. Animal health and hygiene
  4. Animal housing
  5. Animal nutrition
  6. Animals
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Anthrozoology
  9. Behavioral research
  10. Biodiversity
  11. Biological resources
  12. Buildings
  13. Carnivores
  14. Case Report
  15. Cats
  16. Ecology
  17. Effect
  18. Emotions
  19. Enrichment
  20. Euthanasia
  21. Feeding
  22. Health
  23. Human behavior
  24. Humans
  25. Mammals
  26. Men
  27. Nutrition
  28. Pets and companion animals
  29. predation
  30. Primates
  31. Psychiatry and psychology
  32. Relationships
  33. Research
  34. safety
  35. Science
  36. Social psychology and social anthropology
  37. urinary system
  38. urine
  39. vertebrates
  40. Veterinarians
  41. welfare
  42. Wild animals
  43. wildlife
  44. Zoology