Cats, more than anything, have perfected disdainful looks. These tiny lions see you as either a useless landlord or a pathetic massive kitten anyway, so this expression comes naturally to them, especially when you don’t do what they want immediately.
A new study in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery suggests that, in order to have a healthier, calmer, and less demanding cat, you should use intricate puzzle games to force your feline to work to get its food. Although this may sound like you’re destined for a future full of these disdainful glares, the research comes with its fair share of miraculous case studies that seem to back up its findings.
The team of cat-curious scientists from the University of California, Berkeley explain that cats are natural foragers, much like their wild equivalents, and food puzzles – which are more common than you might expect – encourage this instinct and thereby satiate their innate needs. By scrambling around for delicious treats in this way, cats are more physically active, they engage their brain more often, they de-stress, and they ultimately become less bothersome for their human overlords/underlings.
“Presenting some challenge that is appropriate to an animal’s natural ecology and matched to its skill level is likely to provide cognitive, physical and behavioral benefits,” the authors note in their study. This is especially useful for indoor cats, who have a far higher prevalence of health problems, including aggression, house soiling, obesity, diabetes, and overzealous attention seeking, than free-wheeling outdoor cats.
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For their research, the team conducted a review of all pre-existing research conducted on the topic, as well as citing around 30 of their own case studies. The cats given food puzzles had a wide range of physical or psychological problems, including a debilitating fear of humans, noise-based phobias, and an overly strong proclivity towards stalking the clients’ guinea pigs – at any cost.
Each of these problematic cats were given food puzzles of varying kinds to play with as they ate, and the results speak for themselves.
Yes, these puzzles alleviate obesity in cats, too. mishanik_210/Shutterstock