Here’s How Puzzles Could Improve Your Cat’s Well-Being

Make no mistakes, our feline friends are seriously smart. That’s why giving them little puzzles could improve their well-being, according to science.

 cats and puzzles
David Kessler / Flickr

You could say that the average house cat has a pretty darn easy life. They get to snooze all day long, wake up, and have us feed them whatever treats they may fancy. It really doesn’t get more luxurious than that. While most of us think we’re doing right on behalf of our pet, some research suggests that they need more of a challenge. Here’s why:

This story starts way back with our cat’s ancestor; the African wildcat. Before felines were domesticated, there would be only one way to get food and sustenance — they had to work for it. Whether that meant hunting or, indeed, foraging, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that these intelligent animals had the natural instinct to get out there and work hard until they had the food that they needed.

Flash-forward to the modern day, and our house cats are not so dissimilar to those ancient creatures. While we may feed them on command each and every day, there may be a better way to help them. Yes, according to a recent study published in SAGE, giving your kitty a food puzzle instead may be the best thing you can do for their well-being.

House Cats Need Puzzles

This study is particularly relevant to house cats that never leave the home environment. Being alone all day long and then simply getting fed when they need it can get a little tiresome. Since cats are, at the core, very smart creatures, they need to be challenged in some way. Of course, one of the easiest ways you can do that is by investing in a puzzle of some sort. The very best games are the ones where cats need to work for their food. In a small way, these simulate what it is like to be out in the wild, seeking food.

How Food Puzzles Help

As part of the study, the researchers looked at a whole range of different cases in which cats began using puzzles. There were a great many examples of times when these little games helped kitties to overcome behavioral problems and health ones too. For example, there was the case of a two-year-old cat who was previously scared of humans, but became more willing to accept them after playing the games. There was also the case of a three-year-old cat with aggression problems, who had a rapid personality change after starting the puzzles.

Types of Puzzles

So, what types of cat puzzles should you get? Well, luckily, there are a whole load of different kinds on the market. Without a doubt, the best styles of puzzle are the ones which reward the cat by giving them some form of food at the end of it. This plays into the feline’s basic instinct. They complete a task and they get a reward. This is how things work in the wild, and so it simulates the same process. It really is that simple!