A wild cat can spend up to 6 hours a day searching and hunting for food, and even then not always go to sleep with a full stomach.
Our domestic cats don't spend nearly as much time eating. For most cats, though, there are chunks ready, once or several times a day. That kibble-filled bowl is very easy, but not very exciting of course. There is not much chasing, at most a few meows. Despite the fact that cats often sleep all day, they do not do this out of necessity but often out of boredom. Because cats don't have much else to do besides eat, play and sleep it is also great fun to have to 'hunt' for their food. With food enrichment, you can get the hunting element back into your cat's lifestyle.
What is food enrichment?
At food enrichment an animal has to make an effort to get its food. This could be by hiding it, for example, or putting it in a place that is difficult to reach. This is already widely used, especially in zoos. Instead of putting the lions' meat in a tray in front of them, it is hung in a tree, for example. Or fruit for the monkeys is hidden in the hollows of a tree and between stones. So, as in the wild, these animals have to work for their food.
Food enrichment for home
Food enrichment is also great at home and a fun activity for cats. With soft food from a can, it is obviously difficult to do this without too much mess, but with chunks you have endless possibilities. Don't make hunting for food very difficult right away but let the cat get used to it first. For example, put small amounts of food in different places. If the cat immediately sees where the kibble is, it won't have to hunt much more. To prevent the cat from noticing immediately when you take the bag of kibble, you can hide the food when the cat is not around for a while. Locking the cat in another room for a while is also a good idea.
Once the cat is used to searching for food, you can introduce new challenges. For example, put kibble in a toilet roll, or egg cartons. Other options include:
- Paper bags (especially the rustling makes this interesting)
- Small cardboard boxes
- Chunks or sweets in a feed ball do
- Throw kibble on the floor one at a time for your cat to chase.
- Enrichment mat
Cats like to be active and appreciate being occupied together. Not only does food enrichment help combat boredom, but it also helps combat obesity by making them eat smaller portions more often.
Do you also apply food enrichment or are you going to try it soon?
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