Magazine article Newsweek

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Bored and Fat; Food Puzzles Provide Endless Entertainment for Humans and Keep a Cat Healthy and Mentally Sharp

Magazine article Newsweek

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Bored and Fat; Food Puzzles Provide Endless Entertainment for Humans and Keep a Cat Healthy and Mentally Sharp

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessica Firger

Many centuries have passed since humans invited cats into their homes. But while these creatures are typically great company for a late-night TV binge, feline brains are still hardwired to express their wild nature--especially when it comes to devouring their next meal. The luckiest house cats reside in homes where they can stalk tiny rodents, but that's not always the case for felines who cohabit with fastidious modern-day humans. The menu is more likely to be a can of Salmon Surprise, and food is always plentiful.

As a result, house cats may become lazy and fat. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 58 percent of cats in the U.S. are obese or overweight. (That's a higher percentage than us portly humans.)

Thankfully, researchers say these problems can be solved in ways that will provide endless entertainment for pets and their owners: food puzzles. The concept isn't new--they've been used for years in zoos, laboratories and other places where animals are held in captivity, and they're also favored by besotted dog owners.

There are a variety of puzzles on the market that won't release food without nimble paws and a bit of kitty persistence. Some are stationary; they may have wells, cups or tunnels that the cat has to manipulate to push the food through. Other puzzles are mobile, such as the Eggsercizer--when a cat moves this egg-shaped puzzle around, dry food falls out through little holes. …

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