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Find out how to recycle common household items into DIY cat toys that make meal times fun  

Like their ancestors the African wildcat, domestic cats are programmed to hunt. Each part of the hunting activity, the stalk, pounce, play and kill, releases feel-good hormones called endorphins. Cats need to have frequent successful ‘kills’ to avoid frustration and are most likely to hunt at dawn and dusk. 

Cats in the wild spend a lot of their time on frequent hunting expeditions, catching up to 12 small rodents per day. In comparison, our pet cats are given bowls of food, so a meal doesn’t take long to eat or make use of their great senses. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to create interest at meal times by hiding food around the house for your cat to search out. Having frequent, short games, for a few minutes at a time, throughout the day will help to mimic your cat's natural hunting activity. Ensure that you spend a few minutes showing your cat how to use their new feeding puzzles so that they get the hang of it. 

Feeding enrichment is particularly important for indoor cats, to ensure that they can exhibit the natural cat behaviours they would perform outdoors and prevent them from getting bored in the home. 

Egg box cat food puzzles

brown tabby-and-white cat investigating a food puzzle toy made out of an egg box with scrunched up newspaper and cat biscuits inside

Start with a cardboard egg box that's open and place a portion of your cat’s daily allowance of dry food (if they have dry food) in the egg box for them to paw out. You can build up to more complex enrichment very gradually. For example, you could slowly start to close the lid of the egg box so your cat has to open it to find the food; or you could loosely scrunch up small pieces of newspaper and wrap the biscuits up. Then let your cat enjoy the food!

Toilet roll food puzzle for your cat

brown tabby-and-white cat pawing biscuits out of a puzzle feeder made from a pyramid of toilet roll tubes

Use sticky tape to attach cardboard toilet roll tubes together, adjacent in a line. Take further rolls and place them on top to make a second row in a brick-like pattern. Again, tape these to any adjacent rolls. Continue to tape rows of tubes in descending numbers, to make a pyramid shape. Remember to use tape on both sides of the pyramid and you could add a cardboard base to make it extra stable. Place some of your cat’s biscuits into the tubes and teach them to get them out using their paws.  

Cat puzzle play station 

black-and-white cat playing with assortment of homemade cardboard puzzle feeders stuck to a sheet of cardboard on the floor

You can combine multiple DIY food puzzles onto one sheet of cardboard to create a play station for your cat, or even safely combine multiple old boxes to create a tower for your pets to explore and hide in. 

Food should be taken out of your cat’s daily amount of weighed biscuits to avoid obesity.  

Find out more about what to feed your cat.  

For more ways to learn about play and feeding enrichment for indoor cats, check out our work with Purina, helping to keep happy cats in happy homes. 

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