Prey. Eat. Love
This is the slogan of a new feeding method and product that has hit the market. We haven't tried the product, but we have looked into the idea and made it our own. No more free feeding!
Free feeding is a no no
Most people should know by now that free feeding isn't the best solution for cats. Free feeding is when you always have a bowl out with food. This often results in weight problems and sometimes behavioural problems. A cat is meant to eat small portions many times a day and actually wants to work for it. IF you haven't heard why free feeding is a no no, here's Jackson Galaxy explaining why you should avoid free feeding
I must admit that I've been kinda free feeding my indoor cats as well. I do this to avoid them constantly begging for food and also to make me feel better, when I'm not home to feed them dinner (wet food) as usual.
Ronja has never been a big dry food eater, but Victor is a stress eater and also eats when he is just plain bored. Since I knew a big bowl of food wasn't a good idea, I've always used something else. As a compromise I served dry food in an activity toy. When it was just Victor living here, we used the Catit Design Senses Food Maze. Since Ronja would knock it over, we changed to the Cat Activity Tunnel Feeder after adopting her. All dry food would be served in this, so they had to work a little for it at least. But it was always sitting in the same place and there was no hunting element in this solution.
I first heard about Doc & Phoeb's "Indoor Hunting Feeder" system on Instagram. People were talking about what activity toys to get for their cats. As you may know, we are a big fan of those! We even make our own DIY cat activity toys. We call them snacktivities as the cats have to work for their snacks. Now there's a new one on the market, but instead of focusing on treats, it's a whole new way of serving dry food. You can learn all about it in this video (or continue reading)
Hide and seek
When I heard the name "Indoor Hunting Feeder" I must admit I expected something else. Something remote controlled with an app maybe?
But the idea is very simple: You replace the bowl with small food containers shaped like a mouse. The mice are filled with kibble and you hide the mice around your house. The cat will have to use it's nose to find the mouse and then slap it around in order to get the food out. This imitates hunting and lets the cat eat in a much more natural way throughout the day. It keeps the cat entertained which can help with stress, anxiety and bad behaviour. The cat will be less inclined to have big meals and overeat as the food is served in smaller portions. This is especially good news for indoor cats that tends to get overweight.
The "Indoor Hunting Feeder" is not a fancy new gadget. It's simply taking what we already know about cats and use that to get better eating habbits, resulting in healthier and happier cats!
We love it - let's copy cat it
Okay, so I might have been a bit disapointed about the "Indoor Hunting Feeder" product at first, cause it seems like a simple activity toy to me. But the idea of skipping the stationary bowl and using the snacktivities for regular dry food is an excellent idea! I have certainly never thought about hiding it. That is expert level stuff.
The mice that comes with Doc & Phoeb's feeding system is not that far from a regular snack ball. And we have those in different varieties. So we have shamelessly copied the idea by using these instead.
The tunnel feeder is gone and the snackballs have been filled instead. I have hidden them all over our appartment. Here's an old action clip with Ronja and Victor working on their Dreamies Mice.
New year, new feeding method
Victor is totally on board with mom's new feeding project and I often see him bat a ball around to get the kibble. While he was a big fan of the tunnel feeder, he didn't use the snack balls much before, when they were filled with treats. So I was worried for him, but he maneges just fine.
Ronja is accustomed to the snackballs being filled with crunchy snacks and now it's just boring kibble. This does not suit her. She keeps batting the snackballs around, hoping something else will magically fall out. So she is making quite a mess, but I'm hoping she will figure it out soon. She wasn't eating much kibble before and hasn't been eating a lot after we switched to the new system either.
I definitly think that Doc & Phoeb's got the right idea and I am thankfull for the inspiration. I haven't tried their actual product as they don't sell it in Denmark, but I've heard that other people are habby with it. Their "mice" are probably better suited for hiding than a snackball, but if you have activity toys in your house already, it's easy to get started with this feeding method. It doesn't have to be a snackball, but the smaller toys are easier to hide.
I haven't used this feeding method long enough to know if it will make any difference yet. It's till too soon to say if I will continue doing this, but it has definitly given me a better alternative to free feeding.
You can read all about the "Indoor Hunting Feeder" and the advantages of feeding this way on www.docandphoebe.com