There are a number of reasons why a cat may be kept indoors, but in some instances, this lifestyle can lead to a serious behavioral and health problems such as urinary tract issues, obesity, diabetes, aggression, and attention seeking.
Fortunately, researchers at the University of California at Berkley have found a potential solution to these issues: food puzzles. Food puzzles allow cats to tune into their hunting instincts in order to procure their food, which fulfills ingrained desires.
When cats are required to "forage" for their food rather than simply eat it out of a bowl or plate, their levels of physical activity are increased, they experience less stress, and are less demanding of their owners.
In their study, researchers found that puzzles were instrumental in both helping cats lose weight and manage specific ongoing behavior issues.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of food puzzles both online and in your local pet store. Some of the most popular options require your cat to push or roll a device with their nose to release food, whereas others require your cat to navigate food through a station board. The way that your cat interacts with each puzzle may be different, but they all serve the same purpose - to increase your cat's involvement in their feeding.
It's important to keep in mind that each cat is different, and therefore will have their own unique preferences when it comes to the types of puzzles they'll interact with. It may take some trial and error before you find one that your cat enjoys.
Happy hunting, felines!