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Brown striped kitten playing with puzzle toy

Q: I’ve heard puzzle toys are good for cats. What are puzzle toys?

A: Food dispensing and puzzle toys stimulate your cat’s mental and physical abilities. They are designed to challenge your cat to think and move to access food or treats. These toys can range from simple to complex, offering cats of all ages and abilities a chance to engage their natural instincts and behaviors.

Why food puzzle toys are important:

  1. Mental stimulation: Just as humans benefit from challenges and puzzles, cats too need mental stimulation to keep their minds sharp. These toys require them to think, strategize, and problem-solve.
  2. Physical activity: Many domestic cats live sedentary lives. Puzzle toys motivate cats to move, play, and exercise, which can help prevent and treat obesity.
  3. Mimics natural behavior: In the wild, cats spend a significant amount of time hunting for food. Puzzle toys simulate this hunting behavior, satisfying their instinctual needs.
  4. Controlled feeding: For cats that tend to eat too quickly, puzzle toys can slow the pace, which can help reduce digestive issues.

How to use food dispensing toys:

  1. Start simple. If your cat is new to puzzle toys, start with a simple design to let them get the hang of it.
  2. Use tasty motivators. Fill the toy with treats or kibble that your cat loves. This will encourage them to engage with the toy.
  3. Supervise initial play. Watch your cat the first few times they use the toy to ensure they don’t become frustrated or try to break or ingest it.
  4. Introduce variety. Over time, introduce different puzzle toys to keep your cat’s interest piqued.
  5. Keep toys clean. Clean the toys regularly, especially if you’re using wet food.

Black cat with a lick mat

Specific examples:

  1. Ball dispensers: These are balls that dispense kibble or treats when they roll.
  2. Maze feeders: Cats must navigate the maze to push food to an exit point.
  3. Mat feeders: These are silicone lickable mats for spreading treats or wet food. Some have suction cups to hold them to a vertical surface.
  4. Interactive puzzle boards: These have different compartments and moving pieces where treats can be hidden.
  5. Automated puzzle toys: Battery-operated toys that move or dispense food intermittently.

Additional Resource: For more information, detailed reviews, and further insights into food puzzles and how they benefit cats, visit This resource provides valuable tips, guidelines, and recommendations tailored for feline companions.