Recycled Bottle Puzzle Feeder for Cats

Our cat, Sugar Lump, has had a rough month after an inexplicable change in her mood and behavior. We took her to the vet to see if there was something wrong with her medically, but all their tests came back negative. The only thing the vet was able to tell us was that even though she isn’t diabetic, she is super over-weight.

So, we changed her feeding routines and started using a feline pheromone diffuser the vet suggested, that is supposed calm her anxieties and make her less aggravated and jumpy, and it does seem to calm her down, but she still isn’t acting completely normal.

Jen sent me an article this weekend about how cats are happier when feeding habits mimic their natural hunting instinct. She said that several cats showed a change in the behavior once they started working for their food.

I’m not completely sure if this will work for Lump, but we have to try it if it has a chance of making her happier.

There are several puzzle feeders for cats on Amazon, but I think simpler might be better for our first attempts.

For this project, I used:

  • Plastic Bottles
  • Craft Knife
  • Drill & ¾” Bit
  • File
  • Sharpie

Before starting, I cleaned out the plastic bottle and let it dry completely.

I chose a cylindrical bottle with a twist-top or tightly sealed lid, so Lumpy would have an easy time rolling it back and forth, and I wouldn’t have to worry about the top popping off and spilling all the kibble, which defeats the whole “working for her food” purpose.

With a Sharpie, I marked a couple spots where I wanted to the kibble to be able to drop out of, and then I used a drill to create guide marks for the openings.

I did this instead of drilling straight through because the bit that I was using kept tearing up the plastic and left a really jagged and sharp edge.

Then I used a craft knife to create the openings. I used a file to make sure all the edges were smooth, and then I filled it with kibble.

The goal of these feeders is for her to learn to knock over the bottle and then roll it to get the kibble out.

When I gave Lump the bottle puzzle feeder, she was a little apprehensive at first. But once she realized that her food was trapped in the bottle, she gradually warmed up to the task.

This definitely broke up the monotony of her day, and hopefully it will help with her behavior issues.

For future bottle feeders, I might either make slightly smaller holes or just reduce the number of openings — just to make it a bit more difficult.

Disclaimer: I included affiliate links to the feline pheromone diffuser we are using. Lumpy seems to respond well to it, so if you’re struggling with a jumpy or aggressive cat, it might be worth a try. 

Featured Image: Image credit to Pusheen the Cat

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