How to occupy your cat and improve his well-being : how to put food available in a way which increases the cat’s level of activity ?

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Last Caturday, Claire followed a training about cats again ; this time, the course was given by Philippe Bocion, behavioristic veterinarian. There were so many interesting things that’s we’re going to need 3 articles to tell you everything !

According to a study of Bonnie Beaver (Feline Behavior, 2003), the approximate time dedicated to various activities by a free cat is the following one :

  • sleeping : 40% (9 hours)
  • resting : 20% (4-5 hours)
  • bathing : 15% (3-4 hours)
  • hunting : 15 à 40% (4 à 9 hours)
  • moving and feeding : 5% (1 hour)
  • other activities (game, marking, elimination) : 5%

Unfortunately, numerous indoor cats are sub-occupied and spend their days sleeping to pass the time, while they would need at least 4 hours of activities a day (hunting, feeding, playing, interactions), according to a personal estimation of Mr Bocion, to respect their natural needs.

For example, we eat between 7 and 15 times a day when we are free ; it is thus essential to split our meals. Besides, the zoos staff knows that having to make an effort to obtain his food is generally appreciated by animals : we call it contrafreeloading. Hey yeah, looking for his food, it takes time !

How to put food available in a way which increases the cat’s level of activity ?

You can realize this very easily :

  • by tinkering a device by means of cardboard rollers, egg boxes, plastic cups,… (warning on the used glue!)
    ADVANTAGE : it does not cost anything ; INCONVENIENCE : it’s little hygienic

DIY feeder to increase the cat's lever of activity

  • by buying a device in a store
    ADVANTAGE : it’s hygienic ; INCONVENIENCE : that costs between 20 and 70 CHF

Increase your cat's level of activity : feeder 1 open

Increase your cat's level of activity : feeder 1 hidden

Increase your cat's level of activity : feeder 2 open

Increase your cat's level of activity : feeder 2 hidden

  • by hiding food in various places of the apartment

Any device must be presented to the cat at its lowest level of difficulty (open drawers or open lids, food effortlessly accessible). The level of difficulty will then be gradually increased : closed lids or closed drawers, food more difficult to reach,… At the beginning, the cat must be helped and encouraged.
Increase your cat's level of activity : feeder 1 easy
Claire had never perceived the importance of this phenomenon, then necessarily, it gave her ideas.

Without particular device, the food can be hidden in places where we don’t see it at first glance, or in places where it will be necessary to catch it before being able to eat it (under a piece of furniture, between a piece of furniture and a wall, …). Obviously, as you eat kibbles, canned food, or raw meat, certain devices will suit better than on others !

How does your human do to split your food ? Have you to be active to get it ?

24 thoughts on “How to occupy your cat and improve his well-being : how to put food available in a way which increases the cat’s level of activity ?

  1. frimousse

    My Master tries to apply the vet’s principles. He now feeds RouXy on a large plate with little bits of food distributed all over the plate. It takes more time for RouXy to eat than in his traditional dish.
    It is difficult to feed us several times a day because there’s RouXy and… me, Frimousse! If I don’t finish my meal, RouXy gulps it and… vomit.
    As for moving, I do move a lot, believe me! My friend RouXy has a much more granddad way of life…

  2. Sammy

    At my age, my vet says “do whatever you can to get him to eat” so Mom just keeps food out most of the time for me and no activities related to being fed or getting food. When I was younger I liked playing some games to get my food AND my treats though and I think it’s a great idea!

    Hugs, Sammy

  3. Flynn

    I used to get fed twice a day and was very active, either in the garden or in the fields. Since I became ill my mum leaves food down for me all the time to try and get me to eat enough. I sleep or rest most of the time now, but still enjoy a short walk in the fields to check for intruders.

  4. Summer

    I only get two meals a day, but we also have regular treat times. My human’s boyfriend gives us bedtime snacks, plus sometimes juice from his can of tuna or salmon as a treat. I get lots of treats during my training session, and when I do therapy work. Binga and Smokey get lunch because they need more calories being seniors… for some reason, Boodie, who is just a year younger than Binga, does not have this problem! Binga would get so frustrated with those treat puzzles, she would probably try to destroy them.

  5. da tabbies o trout towne

    pixie N zorro; thanx for sharin yur post two day, we N joyed reedin thiz…de food servizz gurl leeves kibble out for me 24/7

    her werk schedule iz crazed & her haz sum situationz with parentz that mite cauz her two get home soooper late………

    sew inn sted oh wunderin IF eye have food…her letz it set out

    heerz two a pineapple fish kinda week oh end ~~~~~~~ ♥♥♥

    tuna of moon ☺☺☺

  6. Gattina

    If every I return on earth, I want to be a cat in my house ! Sleeping …. eating, …. playing, and sleeping of course. Toys are not necessary in my case, as my cats find them outside !

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