Many pet parents use slow feeders for their dogs and cats alike. They discourage fast eating, something which can have a detrimental effect on your pet’s health.
But trying to find the best cat puzzle feeder can be tricky. Why not consider lick mats? While different from the slow feeder bowls you may have seen, have a similar role, and again can be used for both dogs and cats. However, the potential benefits they bring go beyond encouraging your furry friend to slow down when they eat.
According to certified cat behavior expert Maria Kozlova, of Cats Explained, lick mats have a number of benefits. And some of them are actually rather surprising…
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The first benefit, Kozlova explains, is that they provide mental stimulation for your kitty, giving them a task, of sorts, with the reward being their food. When your cat eats out of a regular bowl, all they have to think about is getting the food into their mouth. With a lick mat, they might have to do a little bit of work to get to all of the food.
Lick mats also provide a welcome distraction during grooming. If your cat doesn’t like being groomed, giving them a lick mat will provide them with something to keep them busy, and reduce stress and anxiety at the same time – which is Kozlova’s third benefit.
And finally, Kozlova explains that lick mats can reduce boredom. While cats are often solitary creatures and are happy to amuse themselves, they can get bored just like their canine counterparts, and lick mats can give them something to do.
But the benefits of lick mats don’t stop there. Have you ever seen your cat get their food out of their bowl and place it on the floor before they eat? This is because many of our four-legged friends dislike the feel of their whiskers against the food bowl, something called whisker stress or whisker fatigue in cats. It’s a type of sensory overload.
When your cat’s food is on a mat on the floor, instead, it allows them to feed in a way that’s more natural for them.
And, lick mats can improve your cat’s oral health, too. Licking is important to help keep your cat’s mouth healthy, removing plaque and tartar, while some lick mats stimulate your cat’s tongue too. This can boost saliva production and help protect their teeth and gums.
So, if you’ve got a problem with a cat eating too fast or disliking the feel of their whiskers against the food bowl, why not consider trying a lick mat?
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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.