7 Unique Interactive Puzzle Toys To Keep Your Indoor Cat Entertained
Keeping your indoor cat at a healthy weight can be a challenge. Naturally, they sleep close to 18 hours every day leaving little time for exercise.
In the wild, their exercise would be spent hunting and acquiring food. Hunting keeps your cat’s mind active and body physically fit.
Being a carnivore zookeeper for big cats, it was important that the tigers and lions work for their food using either positive training or enrichment.
While the toys for the big cats were much more heavy-duty, the same principles can be used to keep your cat at home from being bored.
The following interactive cat puzzle toys are what I use with my own cats and recommend for others to help prevent boredom.
I’ve rated each toy at a different level from easy to hard so that you can better choose a toy that fits your cat’s skill level.
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For a more in-depth guide on pet enrichment in general, check out Enrichment 101: Pet Enrichment Guide.
1. Catit Senses 2.0 Digger For Cats
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Even though I rated this food puzzle as easy, it still makes my cats work for their food and keep their minds active.
It’s a straight forward puzzle feeder. The white base holds 5 green cups of varying diameters and depths. You place food into each cup and your cat has to use their paws to retrieve each kibble.
The cups aren’t wide enough for your cat’s face to fit inside. My cats were only able to retrieve one kibble at a time so it still takes a while for them to eat. Seeing food waiting at the bottom of the cup kept them engaged.
This puzzle toy can be adapted for elderly cats or a cat with mobility issues by removing the green cups. The white base has shallow indentations that are intended to hold the cups stable but there’s no reason you can’t put kibble in there instead to make it less taxing.
Since all the pieces are removable and BPA free, cleanup is easy and quick.
2. Petmate Jackson Galaxy Go Fish Slow Feeder Puzzle Bowl
Difficulty Rating: Easy
This puzzle feeder bowl is best for dry food. Its main function is going to be slowing down the eating of your cat.
The silicone fish tails sticking up are able to be rotated to make the space between some of the fish more difficult to get to.
Your cat will need to use their paws to fish the food out into the moat to eat. The fishtails are removable to make it easier for older cats or cats with dexterity issues.
The platform that holds the fishtails can be removed completely, creating a bowl that you can feed wet food from.
3. Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder
Difficulty Rating: Easy-Moderate
This fun puzzle feeder was designed by a veterinarian. The set includes 3 fillable feeders and 3 mice “skins” that make the feeder look like a mouse.
You use the scoop to fill the feeders with kibble or treats. Once filled, you hide the mice around your home (without your cat peeking). The cat then can spend their time hunting for the mice.
The food capacity of the feeders is 2/3 cup total. Large enough to put kitty’s meals into. It stimulates their instinct to hunt. The difficulty level changes depending on how well hidden you make the mice.
This feeder toy works better if you only have one cat or are using it solely for treats. For my cats, one of them was the hunter and found all the mice. The other cat sat on the sidelines and picked up stray kibbles.
The mice “skins” held up well and didn’t get too dirty. Both the skins and feeder inserts are easily hand washed.
4. Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
The Catit Food Tree is one of my cats’ favorites. The food is at face height and they only need to strategically stick their paws through to knock the food to the lower levels.
The base is nice and wide for stability and has a bowl shape to catch kibble or treats that may fall out. It was easy enough for my younger kitten to learn how to use as well as my older cat who is a puzzle feeder pro.
The food tree is easy to disassemble to clean and the narrow holes prevent your cat from sticking their face inside the “cheat.”
The main con is that if your cat is very strong and determined, they will be able to knock the tree over. My cats haven’t been able to topple the food tree but I can see how some larger cats can.
5. Ito Rocky Treat Boredom Dispensing Slow Feeder
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
This interactive puzzle feeder stumped my cats initially. They were looking into the holes of the green tube but couldn’t grasp how to get the food to come out.
One of my cats kept trying to stick her nose through the tiny holes where the kibble was. The first day this feeder was used, they lost interest after 15 minutes and left to go nap.
Perhaps due to being well-rested and hungrier, when they came back to the puzzle feeder a second time, they were able to figure it out.
This puzzle feeder incorporates two layers of mental stimulation. The cat first has to figure out how to get the food out of the green tube.
When the food falls down, it falls into a secondary puzzle bowl the cat has to fish the kibble from. Or if you’re like my cats, you smack the green tube, sending kibbles shooting across the room.
The height of the green tube is adjustable which can increase the difficulty and make it size-appropriate for your cat. A lowered position may be easier for an older cat to use.
The con of this cat puzzle feeder is that the green tube can be slightly difficult to clean. It’s fully detachable but you’ll need a small bottle brush to clean the inside.
6. Trixie Tunnel Cat Feeder
Difficulty Rating: Moderate
This is a great feeder if your cat’s main diet is kibble. It has a spacious holding tank on the top that drops down into the openings.
Your cat must use their paws to reach into the tubes to grab food out. The tubes have different angles which makes it more challenging than some of the easier feeders.
My cats figured this puzzle feeder out quickly but it still took them time to work all of the kibble out.
One ingenious trick is that people have rigged it so that their automatic kibble feeder dumps into this feeder’s top reservoir. It keeps your cat from gulping down their food and gives them some exercise.
This feeder is completely plastic so it is easily cleaned by soaking and using a bottle brush to get into the nooks.
7. Cat Amazing Epic Cat Puzzle Feeder And Treat Hunt Maze
Difficulty Rating: Hard
This is an ever-changing cat treat maze that will keep persistent cats entertained for hours. Its made completely out of industrial-strength cardboard so it holds up well.
Inside the shell are adjustable boxes. They can be set to easier, moderate, or hard as your cat becomes more accustomed to the puzzle feeder.
This feeder has three levels with seven sections total for the kibble to fall through. If you have a super food motivated cat, they’ll enjoy the harder difficulty level.
If you’d like to start with a similar feeder box that’s easier, the Cat Amazing Sliders box will do the trick.
My younger cat really enjoyed this box. She loves to stick her paws into crevices she finds around our house.
You can see an example of cats using this puzzle feeder in the video below:
The inner boxes are coated in a plant-based gloss coating to keep the pieces from wearing down quickly. All of the material and inks are cat safe and eco-friendly.
Interactive Cat Puzzle Toy Overview
Regardless of your cat’s beginning skill level, there is a puzzle feeder toy that can work for them. As with most skills, it takes some time for you to figure things out.
The same can be said for your cat. Initially, your cat may require an easy feeder toy. As they become more familiar and understand how to get the food out, you can graduate them to a more difficult option.
By using a puzzle feeder toy, you’re ensuring your indoor cat’s mind stays active and keeps them from being bored.
Let me know in the comments what puzzle feeder is your cat’s favorite.
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Positive Reinforcement Trainer & Enrichment Specialist
Stephanie has over 12 years of experience training and enriching exotic animals as a Zookeeper. During this time, she received a certificate in Behavioral Husbandry from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Stephanie now helps people make their pets’ lives better.