Playing with Food: Cat Kibble Balls
Cats are natural hunters and have not lost their predatory instincts despite the fact that they sleep on our beds and purr when they get chin scratches.
More than half of cats in the United States are considered obese. While fat cats are adorable, there are many health issues associated with being overweight. The extra pressure on their spines can cause back issues, hip and joint problems, and it puts extra stress on their heart, liver, and kidneys.
Many people still free-feed their cats and leave a bowl of kibble out all day for cats to graze on. Most cats do not monitor their own diets and will eat until the bowl is empty. In the wild, they hunt and consume their prey as soon as possible. They are not hoarder-animals by nature.
Cutting Calories Creatively
By measuring your cat's food into two to three servings a day, you will be able to keep track of how many calories they consume. Always feed your cat to the weight desired, rather than the weight they currently are. There are also many choices of indoor or weight management varieties of cat food, which contain less calories.
Often cats scarf their food and many will whine for more two hours later (or jump on you, or bite your toes, or sit on your computer until you comply). By placing their kibble into a kibble ball, you cause them to have to work for their food. It not only slows their eating down, but it also engages their brain!
Being hunters by nature, cats are used to stalking their prey and get satisfaction out of being able to hunt for their food. It also slows down the time it takes them to eat their meal, which helps them digest their food better.
Get Them Moving!
To introduce a kibble ball, place the food inside of the ball and roll it around between your hands to get food to fall out. Once your cat sees the food appear, they are keen to find out how to make it happen again.
Most cats are food motivated and will pick up on what to do right away once they see where the food is.
If not, try shaking the ball to release more kibble and roll the ball in front of your cat. Some may be wary of the noise, at first, and not understand the new toy or why their food is suddenly inside of it. Cats are prone to do what they please and some take more work than others to get going. Be patient and try again! If their food is only available in the ball, they will catch on quickly.
By getting them to play with the ball by themselves they are being active on their own. Getting them moving can often be a big challenge for overweight cats, but combining it with their favorite activity can be a great incentive!
Cut your cat's calories slowly in order to not cause a shock to their system. Start reducing their calories by taking incremental amounts of kibble out every day. The difference will add up over time!
Kibble balls can also hold treats. Treats can be a great addition to your cat's diet, but be sure they don't make up more than 10% of it. Mixing a few in with the kibble can make for a fun reward and re-incentivize your cat if they get less crazy about their kibble over time.
While we love our animals at any size, we control their portions and need to make smart and healthy decisions on their behalf. Remember, a healthy cat is a happy cat!