Posted by Mary
In the wild, cats seek, hunt and play. It’s in their genetics to pounce on things to find their food. But when pet cats are in a home, all too often it’s just a life of leisure and laziness, which involves eating out of a food bowl in just a few gulps and then napping all day. For a human, that’s a pretty nice life. But when your cat has nothing to do, that’s when all kinds of things can happen.
Not only can bored cats get into mischief, but they can get fat. I live in Minnesota and a Banfield Pet Study reports that Minnesotans have the fattest pets in the entire country. (That’s not surprising to me, in my own neighborhood most of the neighbor dogs are a little plump.)
When I got my latest cat, Farley Waddlesworth, the boredom meant random attacks at my ankles, feet or arms because he got bored with the dozens of little catnip toys I bought him. It also meant multiple food puzzle purchases which he would figure out in approximately five minutes. Nothing seemed to keep this boy busy!
I recently received Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. No Bowl Feeder from the great folks at Hauspanther, an amazing website for unique cat furniture and design, accessories and toys. At first I was skeptical… yet another feeder that Farley will figure out immediately. But I decided to try it and I have to admit, it’s pretty cool and Farley loves it. I can keep him busy for hours.
So what is it? It’s five cute little plastic mice which you fill with food and hide throughout your house. You start with a trainer mouse which doesn’t have the cool mouse-eared cover on it. You put it out overnight so your cat can figure out how it works in private. (Remove your regular food bowl too so he or she is forced to use the trainer.)
Then, once kitty has figured out the trainer, you use the special portion filler to put in one scoop of kibble in each of the five mice. This replaces your cat’s bowl of food. (The filler is based on the average ten pound cat eating an average amount of food.) After that’s done, hide all the mice. In the beginning make the hunt easy, but once kitty starts becoming an avid hunter make the hiding spots more difficult.
Taking the time to fill up the mice and then hiding them around the house is a little time consuming… but I just ordered another set of five mice so I can fill both Farley’s day and night meals at the same time.
When I first started this feeding system, I knew Farley would figure it out quickly so I hid them all right away on both floors of my house. Just like the directions said, it took him only a few minutes for him to start sniffing, hunting and pouncing all through the living room, dining room, bedrooms and basement. It took him more than an hour to find all the mice, play with them, get the kibble out and eat it all. The best part – he’s tired after his meal hunting and doesn’t pester me to play with him all night.
The feeder was created by Dr. Liz Bales, a veterinarian who believes a bowl is the wrong way to feed your cat. She thinks it leads to overfeeding and laziness. The company also claims the feeder improves cat challenges such as urinating outside the litter box, destructive behavior and scarfing and barfing.
The downside is that this feeder is actually rather pricey ($39.99) for five plastic mice, but the fact this feeder uses the natural instincts of the cat as the basis behind it clearly makes a difference. I can now keep my Farley Waddlesworth busy and tuckered out, which is Whisker Fabulous for the two of us.