The Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder (formerly The No Bowl Feeding System) is a revolutionary method of feeding indoor cats designed by Dr. Liz Bales from Doc and Phoebe’s Cat Co. The feeding system proves that how you eat is just as important as what you eat. This product design and the idea behind the product is all about incorporating what we know about cat behavior, nutrition and keeping cats happy.
A big part of this research is based on the seeking circuit of felines which basically tells us that the cat goes through an endless loop of stalking, trapping, playing, eating, grooming and then sleeping. This circuit is also referred to as the natural hunting cycle for the cat which seems fitting. The cat will start at the stalking stage when they wake up again and hunger strikes so they go through the same circuit as detailed below.
I use the Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder to keep the cats that I take care of in my cat rescue and my own personal cats both physically fit and mentally stimulated all day long. This is important for me since I own a rescue and work full time which does not leave me much time to spend with some of the rescue cats. My financial situation for the rescue also does not allow me to feed only wet food.
Small And Frequent Meals Are Best
This fantastic product is the result of extensive research conducted by Dr. Bales and other experts in the field of feline nutrition and feline behavior which found that small and more frequent meals are better than larger portions of food 2-3 times per day. The research also found that the stomach of a cat is only about the size of a ping pong which is equivalent to only 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons. Below is a video of my shelter cats playing with the feeders.
Your average domestic cat is more likely to eat 12 to 20 small meals per day if you leave out dry food than 2 to 3 times per day which is what many people do. About 80% of their waking hours are spent hunting and eating food. The other part is spent sleeping of course. When a cat is not sleeping – they are usually hunting for food.
The Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder was designed with this preference and lifestyle in mind. Allowing the cat the opportunity to hunt, catch and play with and eat their food results in less behavior problems and a significant increase in good behavior since dopamine is released when they are allowed to express normal hunting/eating patterns that they would display in the wild.
Prevent Obesity & Behavior Problems
Behavior problems that can be prevented by allowing your cat to forage for their food include but is not limited to being extremely vocal during the night, inappropriate urination and destructive activities due to boredom. All you need to do is add food to the mouse dispensers, hide them well, let the kitty hunt out their food and refill them once they are empty.
I do about 30 behavior consultations per month for several no-kill cat rescues including my own. Many cats with excess energy that was once biting, scratching and causing trouble are no longer exhibiting those behaviors. One of the cats that I helped out the most was an F2 Bengal cat who was tearing up the house due to having improper environmental enrichment and mental stimulation.
Each cat will need 3 mice twice per day with their entire meal being portioned out between them which is calculated by the bag instructions and/or your veterinarian’s recommendation. So you need one pack of mice for each cat if you are wanting to do things correctly.
3 mice twice per day is recommended so that your cat has to hunt out multiple prey per day and for your cat not to feel like they have to eat near other cats. It is less stressful for a cat to eat away from other cats than alongside other cats in the household. Forcing your cats to eat together can actually be a stressful experience unless you are using that method specifically for new cat introductions or they are truly best friends.
There are a myriad of benefits for allowing your cat to forage food in addition to improving good behavior and eliminating bad behavior. I have used the foraging system for overweight cats and for cats who are just not as active as they should be for their age.
I had a cat come in at 20 pounds (10 pound overweight) and adopted him out at 18. Cats that are allowed to free feed are typically more lazy and suffer from a lack of portion control, and mental and physical stimulation . 58% of cats are obese in recent statistics on the body condition scale system developed by Purina and used by veterinary professionals.
The other type of cat that I like use the Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder for exclusively is the scarf and barf cat who will eat until they throw up over and over. I see this problem with multi cat households where one cat is likely to hog the food bowls or does not like to eat around other cats.
This type of product design is perfect for curbing scarf and barf or situations where cats do not get along. I do advise that owners weigh their cat every week just to see if they are getting hang of the idea – especially if you want your cat to lose weight. All you need to do is weigh yourself then yourself holding the cat.
Easy To Implement
The Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder is extremely easy to implement if you follow the instructions provided. You should start out with the training version first which is included then transition to the harder version with only has two holes. Only transition after they seem to be getting the idea of how to forage for their food. The training version has multiple holes so the cat basically learns that slapping or knocking the mouse around will release food.
The process of hunting can even be enhanced by purchasing their additional package of skins which comes in a beautiful array of colors. I have each mouse in a different skin so that they are more eye catching to volunteers and people who visit the rescue. I simply enjoy educating people on how to properly feed their cat along with how to prevent common behavior problems from forming. I did receive notice today that they are no longer being offered in additional colors but please keep an eye out as they may do so in the future again.
I was sent several 5 pack sets of the interactive indoor hunting cat feeder for review at my rescue and with my own cats. The plastic is extremely durable which complements the tactile fabric skin. I find that the skin is highly appealing because it can simulate what it feels like to grab and claw prey prior to killing/eating them.
Currently the company is offering 5 mice for $29.99. Later this month the company are launching the $19.99 3 mouse kit which should be within budget for most people. The 3 mouse kit is ideal for individuals new to the concept of puzzle feeding.
The five pack can be bought on Amazon. 5% of all purchases go to Cuddle Cat Rescue via the affiliate program. A one pack set contains the actual mouse puzzle feeder, the trainer which has multiple holes, one feeder skin and a 1.6 tablespoon feeder scoop which I just love. The scoop is estimated to be 1/5 daily ration of a 10 pound cat.
The Common Issue That People Have
Most people complain that dry food is not the proper diet for a domestic cat with good reason but the reality is that there is a place for dry food to be used and always will be. At that point I generally recommend a grain free and high protein dry food with few carbs. Some people do not have the time or money to feed exclusively wet food and shelters/rescues cannot afford to feed wet food only.
The reason dry food can pale in comparison to dry food is because they are often too high in carbohydrates which can lead to dental disease or obesity. The second biggest reason for dry food losing favor in the community is because the average cat is not a natural water drinker since their ancestors were desert dwellers.
Dry food can make concentrated urine which can result in crystals or urinary tract disease. Natural prey contains 75% moisture just like canned food while dry food has 3 to 6% moisture so it is quite easy to see how issues with their health could become a problem.
My recommendation on this matter is to supplement your cat with canned food everyday as a treat or in addition to dry food feeding while taking into account the portion of food they should receive. I have several canned food puzzle feeders that I use for this purpose as all of the rescue cats get canned food in the morning and at night. The second recommendation I have is to utilize a water fountain so that the water is more enticing to your cat.
My Final Thoughts
The Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder by Dr. Bales is unlike any other puzzle feeder available because of the unique texture of the toy paired with the ability to hide it. The unit replaces the bowl with the hunt, and the mice have the fabric skin, which allows the cat to interact with it like prey.
Dr. Bales has done an exquisite job at making a safe and effective toy. I hide my mice on top of cat towers, behind couches, underneath their favorite scratching posts and so on. It is a game that they have grown to love over time.
The fabric is made of a Nylon blend for easy washing and is BPA free. The fabric can be washed in a standard washing machine then air dried and the plastic can be cleaned in a dishwasher if desired.
Some of the best benefits of this system:
- Prevent digestion issues
- Get your cat to lose weight
- Good for feral kitten taming
- Cut down problem behavior
- Cut down anxiety & stress
- Get more sleep at night
- Bring out the wild side
- Cut cat relinquishment in half
- Curb Cat aggression
- Keep your stimulated & active
Your cat will likely ignore the mice at first because he will expect you to put out his daily meal into a bowl as you have done religiously. It will also take some time for you to re-awaken your cat’s hunting spirit and for him to learn that he is expected to work for his prey rather than meowing at you for it.
The good thing is that the food does not fall out too easily as some people have asked about and a few people have left comments about on Amazon. This may be the case if you are using very small kibble at which point I recommend slightly bigger kibble. Or you can use tape to cover a little bit of the hole.
The food does take some work to get out but not so much that the cat would actually give up or leave. I think a high level of consideration was given to making it just the ideal level of difficult.
I recommend that you do not give up if it does not seem to be working out right away and stick to the training version until he does seem to get a hang of the foraging technique. Your cat will not likely starve. It took my 10 cats only a few days to start foraging and it takes an average of 4 days for one of my rescue cats to start foraging from these mice.
This product is best suited for cat rescues and animal shelters as cats can get quite bored when there is no people around. Shelters not yet utilizing the Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder really need to jump aboard as it is the right thing to do for the cats in my opinion. I have fixed many cat behavior problems that have stemmed from boredom with the use of puzzle feeders.
I received this product for my cat rescue at no cost to me in exchange for writing this review. The free product did not persuade my opinion and my views on this product does not necessarily reflect the opinion of other writers on this website.
All of the opinions listed are my own after extensively testing this product with over 20 cats from a range of different backgrounds and personalities. You can support my work and my cat rescue by visiting Cuddle Cat Rescue and making a small contribution if you wish. Or you can simply share this article with your friends!