There are a few quirks to domestic cats' eating behaviour. Unlike many other carnivores, cats need to eat everyday. Cats manage better with small multiple meals throughout the day rather than one or two big meals. When they eat too much too fast they often throw it back up again and this is the case for my cat, Samson.
So knowing Sam will be healthier eating multiple small meals per day, I can use food to address particular behavioural challenges
1) Frustration & boredom
2) Inactivity (weight maintenance)
2) Conflict with Viv
Firstly I wanted to teach Sam to "hunt" up on his catwalks. Read my previous post to find out more about the catification that's taken place in my front room. I discovered a cool feeding system called NoBowl which involves fabric-covered plastic "mice" that the cat bats around like a pinata. See here for a video. The contents of the mice (I use cat kibble) falls out as the cat works them. Now, because I have dogs in the house and they would quickly polish up any fallen cat food, I've modified the nobowl mice using magnets. I've popped magnets into the nose of each mouse and placed metal tape on the walls behind the shelves. This way I can place the mice anywhere on the system, they have some movement for Sam to knock them about, but fall off less easily. The aim is to increase the amount of time Sam spends hunting for food and eating it. There are 5 NoBowls in the system and I fill each of these with cat Kibble and place them up on the walkway system in varying spots each day.
This is all very well for getting Sam up off the floor in the front room, but what about in the kitchen? I've initiated a training protocol. If I see Sam on top of the freezer or high up in his bed in the kitchen, I give him a treat. His treats are conveniently placed in an old bodyshop body-butter tub, out of the dogs' reach, by the cat bed. Sam likes wet food too and I've been happy with the pouches by Canagan and the trays by Lily's Kitchen. So in the kitchen I deliver him a tray each day up high on top of the tumble dryer. This is to teach him to miaow at me hopefully from that location instead of staying on the floor where he's most likely to cause a row with Viv.
Have you used food to train your cat? Let me know in the comments below.
Stay tuned for a future blog on sensory enrichment for house cats.
Love from Lucy x