Thriving Cat

What Is The Best Cat Puzzle Feeder?

Long haired cat with cat puzzle feeder

What Is The Best Cat Puzzle Feeder?

You have probably heard of puzzle feeders or “slow feed bowls” for dogs and cats but might have wondered what they are and if they are any good. I wondered the same things. I needed a way to keep my cats from stuffing themselves and tried several puzzle feeders to slow them down. So what is a puzzle feeder and what is the best cat puzzle feeder?

The Best Cat Puzzle Feeder I Have Found

I have tried some very unique models and this is the best cat puzzle feeder I have found.

  • It does not make a mess with dry food going all over the floor!
  • It holds a large amount of food making it practical for multi-cat households or outdoor feeding of cat colonies.
  • It looks attractive
  • It is very sturdy and won’t break.
  • It will not be damaged by moisture like cardboard box style puzzle feeders.
  • It is not confusing for the cat to use but still takes time and slows them down.
  • It could be used for kittens, adult cats and seniors.

Don’t be confused. This puzzle feeder is made for dogs but I have found it is a superior feeder for cats.

It is the Outward Hound brand Fun Feeder.

Purple cat or dog puzzle feeder bowl

Why Use a Cat Puzzle Feeder?

1. Control food intake and prevent weight gain.

The reason I use a cat puzzle feeder is to prevent overeating and weight gain. You can time meals throughout the day in small portions if you are home and have one cat but that gets very difficult if you have multiple cats and you are not there to monitor their meals. If you have a larger, stronger or more aggressive cat, they may get the lion’s share of the food you put down. Some cats are just polite and will let others eat first. Some are pushy and take all they can cram in their face. With different cat personalities, sizes, nutritional needs and feeding times it can be very hard to know how much food each cat is eating. Portions don’t mean much in a multi cat household.

My cats are getting fat and I know they need portion control. My husband and I are at work all day however and there is no way to figure out exactly how much each of 4 cats are eating throughout the day. It is not healthy for cats to eat only 1 time per day and many also believe they should eat more than 2 times per day. In the wild they are used to eating many small meals, not one large meal at a time. They may have an insect at one point, some leaves later on and a mouse in the afternoon, then another mouse in the evening.  Or a bird or numerous other small meals. Their metabolism is designed to have these smaller and more frequent meals.

2. Slow down food intake, prevent vomiting.

Some cats eat too fast and then throw up the food. A puzzle feeder prevents this since they can’t just stick their face in the dish and chow down until it is all gone. They will have to eat more slowly and may decide they are done with less food then if they could gobble it down quickly. This can help reduce vomiting the food back up right after they eat it. For other causes and treatments of for cat vomiting please take a look at my posts on Cat Food Sensitivity and Intolerance and an over the counter remedy for acid indigestion in cats.

3. Give indoor cats a more interesting way to get their food.

Cats are supposed to work for their food. Prey doesn’t usually just sit there on a platter in the wild. Cats may actually enjoy working a bit for their food and solving puzzles to get to it. This may feel rewarding for them. My French Chartreux cat is very intelligent and she seems to really enjoy all the puzzle feeders we have tried. If you have a highly intelligent cat you may be interested in one of these cat feeders I previously reviewed. They make a bit of a mess with some dry food going on the floor but if you don’t mind that give them a try.

4. Efficiently put out a large amount of food for cats over while you are away.

A puzzle feeder allows working pet parents to put out enough food for multiple cats for multiple meals without having a huge bowl full where one greedy kitty and stuff himself. This particular feeder and the others I have tried, all hold larger amounts of food than many of the cat food puzzle bowls and feeders on the market that are made for just one cat.

How Does This Feeder Compare to Others?

This Outward Hound Slow Feed Bowl is my favorite puzzle feeder for the following reasons:

  • It does not leave a mess with dry food all over the floor. This was the biggest drawback of other large feeders I tried.

  • It holds enough food to feed multiple cats over multiple meals. The other large feeders I tried held plenty of food but most cat puzzle feeders are too small for multiple cats and multiple meals.

  • It stays in place and doesn’t get pulled all over the floor like the cardboard box style feeder.

  • It looks attractive and comes in a variety of colors and patterns to suit your taste and feeding needs.

  • It is actually made to be a dog feeder so you could use it for a dog as well.

  • It is deep enough that a cat can’t stick his face in to get to all the food but large enough to hold plenty of food. Most dog feeders are too large and a cat could just chow down, while most cat feeders are too small to hold enough food.

  • It is affordable! Some cat puzzle feeders are expensive.

  • It will not be damaged by water/cat saliva like the cardboard feeder I tried.

How Do Cats Use This Puzzle Feeder?

My cats all try to eat the food straight out of the feeder. They can do this if I fill it all the way up so that I won’t have to touch it for a few days. When it gets lower they can only eat straight from the bowl in certain parts of it where there is a wide enough gap. Then they will eventually have to use their paws to move the food from the narrow areas to the wider areas where they can fit their mouth in to eat. My smarty pants girl will just reach her paws in anyway and pull a piece out at a time for the fun of it when eating but the others prefer to do that only after all other options have been exhausted. They don’t like the extra work, but she thinks it is fun.

With the other puzzle feeders I tried such as this one below, my smart girl figured it out right away and the boys took longer to get the hang of it. The Catit Senses Food Tree was an interesting option and if you have neat cats that don’t leave food on the floor and you don’t mind the large footprint, this one is a nice option as well.

green and white cat food puzzle feeder tower

If you have any questions or thoughts on this cat puzzle feeder, please leave a comment below!


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  1. Paul

    Wow – this article just made my wife’s day.  We have two cats and have found we have to space out their breakfast over three ‘sittings’ due to the fact that they eat so fast that if we gave them all of it at once they just vomit it straight back up.  We saw the vet who gave us that advice and it has worked but it is hard in the mornings when we are trying to get out the door in time.

    This will be a purchase for sure!  Do you finds that cats can work this out fairly quickly or is there some training required?


    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Paul,

      That is one thing I like about this model. Cats can figure it out right away because they can see and smell the food. I think any cat should be able to figure this out. It is not so much of a “puzzle” like other models but more of a slow feeder.



  2. Kenny Tang

    This was an excellent review. I enjoy the attractive look of this cat puzzle feeder and have never seen anything like this before. Controlling the mess of the dry food and having portion control for cats are two features that caught my attention. My first cat would eat so much and he would make a mess everywhere. Cleaning the mess up was no fun for me and I was wondering why he gained so much weight even though my sister played with him to get the little guy to exercise. Portion control is very important to helping control weight in all animals. Thank you so much for the review. I will show this to my sister when we buy a new cat next year. 

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Kenny,

      Yes, it is a simple concept that cats need portion control but very hard to implement with multiple cats! Thanks for your thoughts and for stopping by. 


  3. Ann

    What an interesting article I didn’t think about how cats naturally feed before reading this information. Of course they would eat small amounts of food more frequently if they were in nature depending on what they could catch. Therefore it makes sense to use a puzzle feeder . I like the idea that this one prevents the food being scattered all over the floor while they feed too.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Ann. The food getting all over the floor was the big downside to other models I tried. That is why I ordered this one which is my third attempt to find one that we like. I never thought about cat’s natural feeding schedule either until recently. It makes sense that their digestive system is made for small meals. Though they are cats, the large tigers, lions etc are made to take down large prey, have a huge meal and then maybe not eat for days. Our cats are made for a different kind of diet and lifestyle!

  4. Eden

    Cat puzzle feeders are definetely good at making cats eat more slowly and better with weight management. So I can see there are great benefits with having these and its always good, if it challenges the cat to getting the food, mental stimulation. Cats are very smart creatures. 

    Would you say if someones cat managed to work out very quickly how to get the food from one feeder, to try another one to give it more of a challenge, so the cat still does not get more food than the other cats who haven’t worked it out as quickly, or I suppose it will still make it to eat slowly regardless. 

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      That is a bit of a problem if you have a very intelligent and determined cat and a lazy or more timid one. The more determined cat could still eat a lot more food than the other. If you don’t fill this feeder up all the way, they can’t just stick their face in a chow down so it slows them all down. I have found that just like with people, if the cats eat more slowly they will realize they are full and stop. If they can eat the food very quickly they gulp it all down and eat too much. This feeder seems to slow down my super smart girl/chowhound and she will stop when I suspect she has eaten less than she normally would before.

      With all of these feeders the difficulty/time required to get food out is determined by how full you fill them. If you fill it to the brim they can still just chow down with no effort. The upright Catit Senses Food Tree perplexed my boys at first and I had to help them figure it out. My girl would just reach her paw in and scoop the food out and gobble it up right away.

      Thanks for your comments and for stopping by,


  5. Jill

    Hi Jessica, What fun to read about This Outward Hound Slow Feed Bowl. I had not heard of Cat Puzzle Feeders before and found this to be such a great idea.

    My daughter has a cat and I am going to show her this post. At one stage I did read something about leaving some of the cat food scattered throughout the house or at least the room, it all sounded very messy to me, although the cats might have loved the game of ” follow the food”.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Jill,

      The food getting scattered over the floor was the reason I got this feeder. The previous models I tried were just messy. With this one, they are not making a mess and food isn’t all over. This is my favorite cat puzzle feeder.

      Thank you for stopping by!


  6. BEazzy Shifts

    Hi Jessica. I never really knew what puzzle feeders are before now. This article is educative and an eye opener regarding puzzle feeders. Wow puzzle feeders are great for splitting the food for cats. They eat alot… I think the value the puzzle feeder offer and the money it saves is worth the price it is sold. Worth checking out.

    Thanks for sharing this awesome review.

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks. It is a very simple answer to a common problem!

  7. Sharon

    Having a puzzle to solve at meals is so important for cats – they’re hunters with hunting instincts, including the mental stimulation they get from figuring out how to get to their prey. I love this idea for their bowls, and I also like using cat kongs for kibble or treats that they can push around and play with. Thanks for the advice!

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thanks Sharon,
      Yes, the puzzle feeders really help slow down the chow hounds too. Thanks for stopping by,


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