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Are Slow Feeders Good For Cats? Vet Approved Pros, Cons & Verdict

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on May 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Are Slow Feeders Good For Cats? Vet Approved Pros, Cons & Verdict


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Every cat parent has probably seen their cat begging for food so badly that, once you put the food down, they scarf down their whole meal in mere minutes, only for them to throw it right back up. Recently, slow feeders have become a more and more popular choice when it comes to feeding our pets, but are they actually good for our cats? And how exactly do they work? In short, slow feeders can be very good for cats because they promote good digestion and provide mental enrichment. Let’s get into all the details, pros, and cons down below.

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How Do Slow Feeders Work?

The purpose of a slow feeder is in the name; these products aim to encourage your kitty to slow down while they eat. Instead of a pet simply gobbling up their food, they must figure out how to get it out of the many nooks and crannies of a slow feeder. Instead of taking giant bites, your cat has to fish out individual pieces of kibble or small bites of wet food.

Thankfully, many slow feeders are often made of plastic or silicone with raised ridges, which makes them affordable and easy to clean, and some are even dishwasher safe.

playful cat is touching and punching food with a slow feeder toy
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

What Are the Different Types of Slow Feeders?

There are many clever designs when it comes to slow feeders, some of which are more challenging for your pet than others. Some have nubs or spines to provide places to stash kibble, and a cat must reach inside and work the pieces loose with their paws. Others build on this theme with cups holding treats or dry food for your kitty to scoop out to eat.

Some products add puzzles to the mix so that your pet must slide open a compartment to get their reward. Meanwhile, lick mats provide a vehicle for wet food. You simply spread it on the surface for your pet to lick up their meal from the curves and crevices on them. While they are slow feeders, they cross the realm into interactive toys since they also serve these purposes. But all in all, anything that slows your cat down while they eat could essentially be considered a slow feeder, all while providing plenty of mental stimulation.

How Do You Use a Slow Feeder?

You can use puzzle feeders for your pet’s regular feeding in place of their usual food bowl. You may find it helpful to use them for one feeding daily. Another option is to mix things up and swap out the dish with the slow feeder occasionally, but be aware that some cats are highly resistant to change and prefer to eat out of the same bowl every day.

Another option is to put your kitty’s treats in one of these products. Many have varying levels of difficulty so that you can keep things interesting as your cat masters their use.

You can place the slow feeder where you usually feed your pet. Placing it in different places will keep your kitty guessing and make it more of a treat. The great thing about these products is that your cat is learning new skills in an entertaining way, all while being mentally stimulated.

Devon Rex cat plays with a slow feeder toy
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

Advantages of a Slow Feeder

The biggest advantage of a slow feeder is that it slows your pet’s eating and promotes healthy digestion. They also offer an effective way to control your cat’s intake if they are overweight or obese. Some felines gulp their food, especially if you have more than one kitty. More often than not, when they eat this fast, they end up regurgitating their meal. A slow feeder can help prevent this disagreeable issue. Your kitty will also swallow less air when they eat, which will make them more comfortable after mealtimes.

Slow feeders provide an excellent form of mental stimulation or enrichment as well. They challenge your pet to figure out a challenge in order to get a reward. That’s especially critical for indoor cats, who don’t have as many outlets for mental and physical stimulation.

Disadvantages of a Slow Feeder

Most cats take quickly to a slow feeder. After all, there’s food or treats inside. However, an intelligent pet that figures it out too easily, thus defeating one of its main purposes. On top of that, many of these feeders are made from plastic, which can contribute to feline chin acne.

You may find slow feeders are more difficult to clean than your pet’s regular food bowl. You must also handwash some products, but a soak in the sink will make short work of any leftover food.

You should also keep in mind that some cats are very sensitive to change, as already mentioned, so swapping out their normal food bowl for a puzzle feeder could cause unnecessary stress.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Should I Do if My Cat Doesn’t Seem Interested in the Slow Feeder?

We suggest tapping into your pet’s natural curiosity. If you handle the item and offer treats whenever they interact with it, the chances are you’ll get your kitty’s attention and create a positive association.

Can a Slow Feeder Keep My Cat From Waking Me Up at Night?

Cats learn quickly that misbehaving at night can get them a treat so that you can sleep uninterrupted. It’s essential not to encourage this unwanted behavior. You may find it helpful to put out a slow feeder set at a higher difficulty level, which can keep them occupied for a while, especially if they have a few treats left to find.

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Slow feeders offer another way to provide welcome mental stimulation for your kitty. They challenge them and nurture their problem-solving skills. Felines are highly intelligent and need enrichment, and these products offer an excellent way to satisfy this need that offers other benefits for you and your pet. You may even find a picky pet will eat better and maintain a healthy weight.

Featured Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

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