Best cat puzzle feeder 2024 for making mealtimes enriching

Cat using one of the best cat puzzle feeders
(Image credit: Getty)

The best cat puzzle feeder is sure to go down a treat with your curious kitty, earning you some serious brownie points as a pet parent. And with so many different designs and challenge levels available, you’re sure to find one your feline friend will love. 

Not only do these little beauties provide cats with the mental and physical stimulation they need to thrive, giving both their brains and their bodies a good workout, but puzzle feeders also make cats work for their food in the same way that they would have to if they were in the wild. 

Able to accommodate plenty of the best dry cat food and your kitty’s favorite treats, puzzle feeders tap into your pet’s natural hunting instincts and help to turn mealtimes into a more exciting and enriching experience. They’re also wonderful for slowing down fast eaters, and reducing the risk of digestive disturbances in the same way that the best anti-vomit bowls for cats and best slow feeder cat bowls do.

Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite puzzle feeders and spoken to Dr. Joanna Woodnutt to get her take on whether puzzle feeders really are as good for our cats as we’ve heard they are. Check out our guide to the best cat treats or read on to find the perfect puzzle feeder for your feline. 

Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS
Dr Joanna Woodnutt

Dr Joanna Woodnutt qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham where she then went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She really took to the consulting side of things and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behaviour and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better. 

PetsRadar's pick of the best cat puzzle feeders

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Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree cat puzzle feederBest buy award

(Image credit: Catit)

Catit Senses 2.0 Food Tree

Best overall cat puzzle feeder

Specifications

Materials: BPA-free plastic
Weight: 1180g
Color: White and transparent green
Dishwasher safe: No

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of interaction
+
Variable skill levels
+
Big enough for a full meal

Reasons to avoid

-
Takes up quite a lot of space
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

With 4.3 out of five stars on Amazon, pet owners are raving about how effective this puzzle feeder is in slowing their cats down at mealtimes and preventing them from inhaling their food. Plus, their cats seem to find it hugely entertaining. That being said, some people say that it’s too large and quite tricky to clean.

It's fair to say that we spoil cats when we offer our services as their butlers, hand delivering them delicious food at meal times with no effort required from them. Perhaps, some think, we're literally spoiling them; as domesticated as that fluffy creature curled up on your lap may be, their base instincts are to hunt for their food. This clever contraption gives them the chance to do just that. 

You scatter treats throughout a three-tiered maze, each tier of which is surrounded by a number of handily paw-sized (but not face-sized) holes. This forces them to work for their snack, either hooking it out through those holes or pushing it through the internal gaps all the way down to the bottom tier, which drops it into the generously-sized dish below. If your cat finds it a little easy you can also adjust the difficulty by narrowing the gaps between each tier, with three settings on offer.

The Senses 2.0 Food Tree is sized to be compatible with the rest of Catit's Senses range, so you can snake (for instance) a ball track around it for some extra fun. It has been upgraded from the previous version, with the main fix being a big boost in stability provided by a wide base, so there's basically no way most domestic cats can knock this over. Catit even suggests putting a ball directly inside the Tree for a little extra bat-it-around enjoyment when snack time's done with – or you can use this to slow down the speed at which they eat their dry food dinner.

One final lovely touch: the box turns into a spaceship for your cat. That is clever, and it's adorable.

Lickimat Felix product shotPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: LickiMat)

Lickimat Felix

Best budget cat puzzle feeder

Specifications

Materials: Food grade TPR
Weight: 80g
Color: Turquoise, Green or Orange
Dishwasher safe: No

Reasons to buy

+
Mimics predatory feeding
+
Good for digestive health
+
Allows crouching while eating

Reasons to avoid

-
Tricky to clean
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

People have given the Likimat Felix an average of 4.3 stars out of five on Amazon with many saying it’s reduced the digestive disturbances their cats were struggling with. Described as durable and with a design that makes spreading wet food easy, the only thing buyers don’t seem to be so keen on is how tricky the mat is to clean.

Cats can, at the best of times, have slight issues with eating their main meal. Whether it's the bowl irritating their whiskers, the tendency to wolf down a little too much in one sitting (which definitely isn't a trait reserved for dogs, as any cat owner with vomit-stained carpets can attest to) or just a general disinterest in the specific way you've served up their dinner, it'll be up to you to work out what's wrong and fix it. 

The Lickimat range might be the answer. It allows you to ditch the bowl and spread out their food over a wide area to encourage them to slow down a little, and the textured mat, full of interesting nooks and crannies, forces them to work for their meal. This causes them to generate saliva, which helps with dental health, and it activates those wild feeding instincts which should help to keep them interested. Great for tiny treats, or for dishing up their wet food, raw food, a little salmon – whatever you fancy. 

Bear in mind, though, that the surface area isn't huge so you may need to spread everything over a few different Lickimats; you can also pick up the Casper, which has a slightly different design, to mix things up further. Note that if you have a cat that's prone to chewing or gnawing things, you'll likely want to steer more in the direction of the Lickimat Tuff, which is made a lot stronger to ensure they're not going to snack on the dish rather than the food itself.

Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze puzzle toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Cat Amazing Interactive Treat Maze

Best premium puzzle feeder toy

Specifications

Materials: Cardboard
Weight: 340g
Color: Beige
Dishwasher safe: No

Reasons to buy

+
Offers plenty of challenge
+
Lots of holes for extra fun
+
Easy to access

Reasons to avoid

-
Made from lightweight cardboard
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

Buyers have given this puzzle feeder a rating of 4 out of five stars on Amazon, describing it as a wonderful toy for getting their cats thinking and keeping them engaged. While cleverly designed and stimulating, buyers aren’t so keen on it being made from lightweight cardboard.

Although you could look at this puzzle feeder and ponder whether you can make something similar yourself out of a shoebox or cereal packet, this product is nevertheless a worthy buy. 

Yes, it's made out of cardboard and, sure, it's pretty much a box with holes in it. But it's well-made, well-executed and, well, fun. And, if you buy it, all you'll need to do is add some tasty treats, sit back and watch your cat having fun.

As a puzzle feeder, it's about as simple as they come but it also means you can use your imagination. As well as including food, you could wave a wand inside to get a kitty's attention or place treats in tricky positions to pose more of a challenge. It'll tap into a host of natural instincts from stalking to sniffing to grabbing. In that sense, it's going to mentally stimulate your moggy and that's the key thing to take away here.

Not that being made out of cardboard is, in any way, cheap. This is a premium product even though it's not made out of plastic or wood. At the same time, it's eco-friendly and a lot of thought has gone into hole positioning and sizes. A great buy, we reckon.

Trixie Brain Mover cat puzzle toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Trixie)

Trixie Brain Mover

Best for smart cats

Specifications

Materials: Plastic
Weight: 599g
Color: Pink and white
Dishwasher safe: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Loads of tasks
+
A real intelligence test
+
Long-term interest

Reasons to avoid

-
Easy to knock over
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

Like many of the other products in this guide, the Trixie Brain Mover scores a respectable 4.3 stars on Amazon. Cats seem to love it and pet owners like that it keeps their feline friend entertained for ages. However, the lightweight design means many cats may knock it over, which people aren’t so keen on. 

Many cat puzzles aren't really very puzzling. They're more cat annoyers, designed primarily to frustrate your cat and slow them down rather than to actually encourage them to use their brains in any meaningful way. But not all cat puzzles are created equal: if you have a particularly intelligent feline, the Trixie Brain Mover seems like a great way to get their synapses firing. 

It's a surprisingly large device which includes four different tasks, each of which they'll need to figure out in order to get at the goodies nestled in the golf ball-sized dishes within. There are two dish-covering balls included that can be batted away, there's a lever which needs to be pulled forwards to slide out a compartment, a drawer that must be hooked open using the string loop on front, and a set of sliding covers over three dishes, with two on each row making getting at the middle dish particularly tricky.

There's just about enough capacity in here for a decent dry food meal, if that's the way you want to use it. And it may just be: some users say that their cats seem to love the Brain Mover even after they've already memorised the solutions to the puzzles, so even if it only takes them a couple of minutes to get everything out rather than half an hour, this might just be a great way to slow down dinner time.

Catit Senses 2.0 Digger cat puzzle toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Catit)

Catit Senses 2.0 Digger

Best for curious cats

Specifications

Materials: BPA-free plastic, silicone
Weight: 600g
Color: White, transparent green and grey
Dishwasher safe: No

Reasons to buy

+
Plenty of ways to configure 
+
Keeps them guessing
+
Variable difficulty

Reasons to avoid

-
Likely to cause a mess
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

Another product with 4.3 stars on Amazon, cat owners describe this model as being fun, easy to wash, and very durable. People also like that it’s big enough for multiple cats to use at the same time, but some buyers report that their feline friends are just too clever for this puzzle feeder. 

Paws are useful little things, and cats are naturally inquisitive creatures; with Catit's clever Digger toy, both of these factors come into play. It comprises of six tubes of varying widths and lengths, each with a rounded bottom, that slot into matching divots on the white base. Simply scatter a few treats on the sloped front of the base to get them interested, pop a few more morsels into the green tubes, and your cats can get stuck in, hooking out the treats which (all being well) will trickle down into the dished portion where they can then be snaffled up.

You don't actually need to use the tubes, if you'd rather challenge your cat a little less: they can be removed, and treats put directly in the divots instead. It's all easily washable, very stimulating, and sized to work with the rest of the Senses 2.0 range – though we'd only suggest you buy this knowing a couple of caveats beforehand.

First, some cats seem to have worked out that the green tubes are removable, and if your particular pet is clever enough to pull the tube out with its teeth and pour the treats out on the floor, this likely won't have the desired effect. By the same count, more feverish clawing is likely to make a mess if you're using this to offer up more than a few kibbles at a time. There's a mat included which surrounds the bowl, so it won't be too catastrophic, but it's worth bearing in mind.

Trixie Turn Around cat puzzle toyPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Trixie)

Trixie Turn Around

Best for evil geniuses

Specifications

Materials: Plastic
Weight: 526g
Color: White, transparent red
Dishwasher safe: Unknown

Reasons to buy

+
Great dual design
+
Staged difficulty
+
Challenging

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite messy
WHAT CAT OWNERS SAY

Pet parents love the dual design of this product awarding it an average of 4.1 out of five stars on Amazon. It’s described by buyers as challenging enough to keep their cats interested but not so challenging they give up, although people aren’t so keen on the price tag and the need for assembly on arrival. 

Their megalomania tends to show without any help, but how about unleashing the mad scientist in your cat? Trixie's Turn Around does look a little like it belongs in a lab, and it requires more than a little feline intelligence to get the most out of it. The three test tube-like cylinders on top are where the treats go, and it's up to your cat to turn them so they'll spill out – all being well, they'll drop onto the rounded spikes on the surface below, further hampering their attempts to get at their food.

This is a tiered toy, meaning you'll want to make it more difficult as time goes on. Start by leaving the lids off of the tubes, so your cat figures out that they'll need to turn it over to release the goods; then start adding the lids, which makes that task much more difficult. There are different lids with different hole sizes, so it's sure to keep their interest for a while.

The Turn Around (also listed as the Trixie Mad Scientist in some places) is more a fun toy than a serious feeder. It's possible for a cat to knock it over, though if the lids are on this will just infuriate them rather than offering up all of the treats at once. Its dispensing method is also (naturally) going to make a huge mess, at least until all of the treats have been snaffled up off the floor.

Best cat puzzle feeder: FAQs

How to choose the best cat puzzle feeder

Choosing the right cat treat toy for your household is going to depend on the number of cats you have around and the way they typically like to play. If you have multiple cats, a toy which leans more towards a single animal – like, for instance, the Trixie Brain Mover – might not suit. 

The cleverest of your clowder is going to end up with the lion's share of the treats. There are toys which better suit multiple cat households; the Catit Food Tree, for example, has plenty of room for multiple paws to reach inside, and the Digger positively encourages a bit of teamwork.

Although we're looking to add enrichment and stimulation to their lives here, do bear in mind that cats which don't have the drive to fight their way through a puzzle may not get on too well with more complex toys. Sometimes you may be better served picking up a Lickimat or two, and offering up their food in a slightly different way. They'll get that enrichment without even realising they're doing something different. 

Even if you do pick up something which is more explicitly a puzzle, staged learning is an important factor to prevent rejection. Teach them that there are treats inside (and that they're possible to extract) by at first making it easy – they'll then be more inclined to solve the more difficult versions.

Are puzzle feeders good for cats?

“Puzzle feeders are great for cats,” says Woodnutt. “As natural hunters, cats are used to having small feeds throughout the day, so encouraging them to work for their food and eat little and often is great enrichment.” Woodnutt goes on to say that when choosing a puzzle feeder, you want to carefully consider the design to ensure it meets your cat's needs. 

“You should think about whether it’s active (like a ball) or stationary (like some of the tower feeders). Which is most appropriate will depend on your cat’s mobility. You should also check what sort of food and type of kibble they work best with- some may have holes too small for large dental kibble, for instance. You can get several types of feeders, so follow your instincts for which your cat will enjoy most.”

Do cats like puzzle toys?

Not all cats will like puzzle toys straight away,” Woodnutt says. “In fact, it’s always a good idea to get your cat used to the idea slowly. If you can open up the toy so your cat can freely access the food inside, do it. Show your cat how to use the toy several times. Only increase the difficulty when your cat has got the hang of the toy.”

How we selected the best cat puzzle feeders

When it came to selecting the best cat puzzle feeders for this guide, we focused on three key areas - feeder type, food type, and material.

Feeder type: Puzzle food bowls can generally be split into two types - slow feeders that are designed to help your kitty eat their food at a more leisurely pace, and puzzle feeders which are more focused on providing mental stimulation that allows your cat to tap into their natural hunting instincts. While you’ll find a couple of slow feeders in this guide, we’ve focused mainly on traditional puzzle feeders.

Food type: Almost all puzzle feeders work beautifully with dry kibble and cat treats, but we’re mindful that some of our feline friends prefer wet food and so we’ve included a couple of options in this guide that will accommodate both wet and dry food.

Material: Models made of plastic tend to be preferred by pet owners as they’re more durable and better able to hold both wet and dry food. However, cardboard puzzle feeders can be just as challenging and are more environmentally friendly, so we’ve made sure to include one in this guide.