If your feline friend is home alone for long hours, is having behavioral problems or needs to get a little exercise, a puzzle feeder might be the solution.

Puzzle feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all operate in a similar way: They challenge your cat to work for food.

In addition to providing mental stimulation and aiding in weight control, puzzle feeders can also help cats who are prone to vomiting from eating too quickly.

There are a variety of such feeder toys on the market, but you can save money by making your own with a few common household items.

Here are a few DIY puzzle feeder ideas from Purina One cat behaviorists.

Turtle feeder

DIY cat puzzle feeder

Supplies:


Egg carton


Nontoxic glue


Scissors


Pencil


Binder clips

Decorating materials

Directions:


  1. Cut an egg cup from the carton to serve as the shell of the turtle.
  2. Place the cup adjacent to the spacer bump on the reverse side of the top of the carton. Trace around the perimeter to outline the contour of the spacer. This will form the head of the turtle, as well as a base to keep the food inside the shell.
  3. Cut the lid following the outline you’ve made.
  4. Apply glue around the edge of the egg cup. Clamp the two pieces together using the binder clips. Let the glue set.
  5. Decorate your turtle.
  6. Fill the turtle feeder with food and let your cat bat it around to get a food reward.
     
Reach box feeder

DIY cat puzzle feeder

Supplies:
Shoebox
Three or more plastic water or soda bottles (8-ounce to 24-ounce)
X-ACTO or utility knife
Duct tape or nontoxic glue

Directions:





  1. Clean and sanitize bottles.
  2. Cut the tops off the bottles, varying the height at which you make the cuts.
  3. Trace around one of the water bottles on the top of the box. Repeat this step different locations along the box top, doing it once for each bottle.
  4. Cut holes in the box top. If you cut the hole slightly smaller than the border you traced, the narrow bands in the bottle will help hold it in place without tape or glue.
  5. Set the box with the bottle openings at the top and place food inside each bottle. Your cat will have to reach in to scoop food out.
Wheel feeder

DIY cat puzzle feeder

Supplies:
Round food container with a lid, such as one used for sour cream or cream cheese. Don't use PVC-based containers.
Spare container lid
Nontoxic glue.
X-ACTO or utility knife

Directions:





  1. Clean and sanitize container.
  2. Cut a few small holes in the sides of the container that are large enough for your cat's food to pass through.
  3. Glue an additional lid to the bottom of the container that's slightly larger in diameter. This will alter the way the feeder rolls and add variety to your cat's playtime experience.