Boost your cat's happiness and give their brain a good workout with this simple DIY food puzzle idea from an expert trainer

Cat playing with toilet roll
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cats enjoy hunting — it’s a natural, instinctive behavior for them. However, many pet cats don’t really get the opportunity to hunt, particularly if they’re indoor cats. 

We provide our kitties with the food they need, and often dole out plenty of the best cat treats too, so even if they could hunt, the drive to do so with such a full tummy might not be there! 

So, what can you do to give your cat the opportunity to engage in their natural hunting behaviors? Well, cat behaviorist Albert Colominas of OutdoorBengal has suggested creating a DIY food puzzle for your cat to let them hunt, provide physical and mental stimulation, and simply give them the chance to have some fun. Here’s how to get started.

As Colominas explains, there are so many reasons to use a cat puzzle feeder toy. Traditional feeding methods can leave this primal need unfulfilled,” he begins in the caption. “Bored cats tend to develop behavioral issues. Food puzzles tap into these innate instincts, turning mealtime into an interactive game that challenges their mind and body.” 

He explains that integrating these puzzles into your cat’s daily routine can help promote physical and mental health, and that you don’t have to “break the bank” to provide them. “From repurposed household items to easy craft projects, you’ll find inspiration to spark your cat’s interest and satisfy their hunter’s heart,” he continues. 

In the video, Colominas gets an old toilet roll tube, closes it up at one end, and fills it with some of his cat’s favorite treats. He then closes the other end of the tube, too, but not entirely. He leaves his cat, Mia, to play with the tube, and as she does so, it begins to dispense treats. “It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s fun for Mia!” he says, and it’s a great food puzzle to get started with. 

This is just one of many potential ideas, however. There are all sorts of feline-friendly food puzzles you can make, whether you’re a creative whizz or not, and there’s no harm in buying the best cat puzzle feeder if you don’t feel like making one.

However, if you don’t mind making puzzles at home, you could try poking holes into cardboard boxes with food inside, or getting an ice cube tray and putting bits of kibble in it to encourage your kitty to scoop them out with their paw. 

And, if you’d like to get more inspiration when it comes to cat enrichment activities and games, this article might come in handy: 7 fun cat enrichment ideas to stimulate your kitty’s mind and body

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Buggin' Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy
$13.56 from Chewy

Nina Ottosson by Outward Hound Buggin' Out Puzzle & Play Cat Toy
$13.56 from Chewy
The purr-fect toy for curious cats, this puzzle feeder is brilliant for encouraging your kitty's natural foraging instincts. Simply place treats in the hidden compartments and watch as your feline friend figures out how to release them. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.