Pete needs to lose weight so I’m trying to encourage him to eat more slowly and be more active. I tried him with a couple of the treat balls – you put the treats/dry food inside and as the cat plays with the ball, treats fall out of the hole, which is supposed to encourage the cat to be active to get its food reward. I’ve tried Pete with two different ones and he could not give a toss. So, I decided to try some other options.
The first thing I tried was the Trixie Cat Activity Fun Board, £24.99 from Amazon. It’s got good reviews and seemed to have several levels of difficulty, so it seemed like a good place to start. The board is well made, solid plastic, and the plastic bowls screw on and off easily. It’s difficult to wash in a kitchen sink, so probably better for people who have dishwashers. And definitely better for people with brighter cats than Pete. I started off with dry food, putting some in the bowls and some in all the parts. He looked at it, walked off and sat by his dish. After much encouragement he came and had a proper look but he wasn’t interested at all – and Pete’s a cat who is always interested in food. So I decided to pique his interest and encourage him to use it and put some tinned tuna on to all the parts. He was willing to work to get the tuna and scooped nearly all of it up on his paw, but it doesn’t work very well with wet food – it gets into all the nooks and crannies so the cat can’t get it all, and it’s a pain to hand-wash. I don’t think this is a toy for Pete. I’ve left it sitting on the floor with dry food in it for a few days, and he’s just not interested. So I’ll see if I can pass it on to someone else, or put it back on Amazon.
We’ve had a bit more luck with the Trixie Cat Activity Slow Feeder, £7.99 from Amazon. It’s shaped like a giant mouse, made of plastic and made in two halves. The top half lifts off so that you can put dry food and treats into it, then you fit the top back on and the cat works to get the food out of two large holes in the mouse’s sides. Pete was much more interested in this. He spent a good few minutes poking food out with his paw and munchitycrunching it. He had a good go at tipping it over too, to shake the food out, but either couldn’t, or couldn’t be bothered to try hard enough. He did once manage to knock my Ikea CD tower over in pursuit of live prey, so I’m sure if he really tried, he could flip the Slow Feeder over. At the moment he’s on one meal of dry (diet) food and one meal of wet food. I might put half his dry food into his dish and the other half into the Slow Feeder and see how he gets on with that. If he really struggles with it, I’ll alter the proportions so he’s working for extras rather than a big chunk of his meal.
Ha. Just as I was typing that he woke up and asked for food. I put some dry food into the Slow Feeder and he ignored me and sat by his dish. I took the lid off the Feeder, and let him eat some of the food from the tray, then put the lid back on. He looked at me for a few minutes, and walked off. I think he’s going to have to be very hungry to overcome his laziness and work for his food!
I think both products are well made, seem to be quite robust, and work well. Pete’s lack of interest isn’t because the products are poor; it’s because he’s lazy and dry food will always be his second choice.