Game On: Using Puzzle Toys To Help Your Indoor Cat Shed Weight


According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59 percent of America's feline family members are overweight or obese, and that number has been steadily rising in recent years. While indoor cats are spared such threats as contracting certain diseases and parasites, being injured or killed by moving vehicles or being poisoned, they are at increased risk for becoming overweight. Find out why your indoor furry friend is more likely to pack on extra pounds and how turning your kitty into a feline gamer can help to prevent obesity.

The Weighty Indoor Problem

Cats who reside strictly indoors tend to put on weight more easily than those who venture outside. According to Lisa Pierson, DVM, indoor cats are particularly prone to becoming obese as a result of the following reasons:

  • Many indoor cats are fed commercial dry kibble that is high in carbohydrates, contains more calories than canned food and fails to satiate cats whose primary dietary need is protein.
  • Many indoor cats are free-range fed, meaning that there is always food available for them to graze whenever they want to nosh.
  • Indoor cats do not have as much mental stimulation as those who go outdoors, and they tend to eat out of boredom.
  • Indoor cats generally do not get the opportunities for physical activity to burn off as many calories as outdoor cats.

If your veterinarian has informed you that your feline friend is full-figured, you may already be thinking of ways to decrease your cat's caloric intake and increase your her activity level. Puzzle toys provide one weight loss option that many cats actually enjoy.

Puzzling Over Her Weight Loss

A puzzle toy is a toy that rewards a cat's gaming moves with food. The most basic puzzle toys resemble balls with small holes in them. You simply fill the ball with cat treats, place the filled ball on the floor, and your cat proceeds to push the ball around with an inquisitive nose or paw. When she pushes the ball just so, a treat falls out of one of the holes. Since the advent of these simplest puzzles, more elaborate puzzles have been produced. Such larger variations are built on a sturdy base and consist of holes, small tunnels and deep grooves from which the cat must work a little harder to extricate the reward. These puzzle toys resemble miniature obstacle courses, and the only parts of your cat can that navigate the obstacles are her nose, paw and tongue. A cat receives a small of food with each successful move. Puzzle toys work on a cat's instinct to sniff out and hunt her food.

Call of the Wild Hunter

Big cats in the wild, such as lions, tigers and cheetahs, always appear svelte in wildlife photographs and videos because they have to hunt for their food, which requires physical work and mental focus. Housecats evolved from wild ancestry, and although indoor cats don't have the opportunities to hunt and capture backyard birds or rabbits, their hunting instincts remain within them. Puzzle toys enable indoor cats to revert to these instincts to work for their food. They have to seek out the food, figure out how to access the food, and their efforts are rewarded. In the wild, cats never know when their next meal will come along. When they catch a whiff of their next prey victim, they go into hunting mode and do what they have to do to feed themselves and their families. By feeding your cat in a meal fashion instead of free-range feeding, she will have to make sure that she works out the puzzle, and she will enjoy the reward of her favorite food. Puzzle toys also provide the following benefits:

  • Slow down cats who eat their meals too quickly
  • Provide mental stimulation as the cat tries to figure out the puzzle
  • Provide a distraction for your cat's focus if a stressful event going on in your home
  • Keep cats entertained when owners are away from home

Puzzle toys promote a cognitive mind and a fit body. There are a few rules of the puzzle game to follow, however, to maximize your cat's weight loss.

Weight Loss Rules of the Game

Adding a puzzle toy filled with food to your cat's perpetually full dish will not spark your cat's need to hunt for her food, and this enables her to consume more calories. To use a puzzle toy as a weight loss program, adhere to the following rules:

  • Feed your cat in a meal fashion from the puzzle toy alone. Do not use her food dish anymore when you use the puzzle toy, but continue to provide her with fresh drinking water.
  • Canned food requires more work on her part to lick every moist and tasty drop.
  • Place only the amount of food that she should be eating daily for her target weight into the puzzle toy. Your veterinarian can recommend a target weight for your cat. If you feed your cat twice a day, divide the daily amount of food into two feedings.
  • Use a large and complex puzzle toy for mealtimes, and change up where you place the food within the toy from day to day to keep the game challenging.
  • Clean the puzzle toy in between each meal. This will enable you to verify that your cat is eating.
  • If you normally engage in treat time as a bonding moment with your cat, place the treats in a puzzle ball, and hand her that to play with. Remember to subtract these calories from her daily food allotment.

Keep in mind that weight loss should be achieved at a slow and gradual rate of a one to two percent loss of your cat's body weight each week, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

By turning your overweight cat into a puzzle gamer, you can help her lose weight, and she will have fun doing it. For more information, talk to a professional like All-Pets Hospital.


24 March 2017

Talking About Vet Services

Hello, I’m Manuel. I would like to discuss the various services offered by veterinarians. Animals are creatures that do not always clearly convey when they are sick or in pain. Regular vet visits can ensure your pets are not quietly suffering from a medical condition without showing signs of a problem. Vets check the pet’s vitals and check for subtle signs of a problem to determine if additional diagnostic tests are required. I will explore the diagnostic process vets use for each health condition or injury. My site will also cover information about common treatments used for pets. Please visit again soon.