Kitty mealtime is always a joyous occasion in the Zirilli household. By household, I mean the apartment where my cat and I live. That's a household as far as I'm concerned.
Riley (my 3-year-old tiger cat) loves to eat. It's becoming a problem, actually. She will devour every last bit of food that I put in her bowl, even if I try to pour enough for multiple days. This makes going away on weekends very difficult. And Riley has no problem informing me that it's time to eat. Her desired mealtime is the only time that she will open her mouth and meow. She then paces back and forth between her kitty face-shaped bowl and the magical cabinet that holds her nourishment. If I fail to respond quickly enough, she plops on the floor and stares at me judgmentally.
This strategy, while familiar, still gets me almost every time. I've developed some backbone over the past few months, though. Now Riley only eats twice a day, and she can plop and judge as much as she likes. I refuse to raise a chubby kitty. Well, it appears that what I am doing is still not enough with regard to Riley's health. A new study from the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery reports that we might actually be hurting our wee whiskered friends by just placing their food in their bowls for them to devour. A research team at the University of California at Berkeley recommends that we humans employ "food puzzles," when our cats' mealtimes come around.
These puzzles mimic and recreate the act of "foraging." Why do our kitties still need to forage? Because they are not too far from their wild ancestors on the evolutionary timeline. By just giving them food, we are making our kitties lazier. This can lead to any number of problems including diabetes, obesity, aggression, house-soiling, chronic lower urinary tract issues, and attention seeking. There are a few kitty mealtime puzzles that are on the internet. They include mazes and next-generation digital devices.
If you're not ready to invest in a David Bowie-esque labyrinth for your feline friend, you can also DIY your own kitty mealtime puzzle to keep them engaged and fit. Cutting holes in paper bags, egg cartons, or water bottles and filling them with food can also get the job done. Consider it, fellow cat owners. I know I will.
H/T: Gizmodo, Purina One