Eating out of boredom
March 3, 2016
Often boredom is not taken seriously. Yet it may cause several physical and psychological problems, not only in humans but also in our pets! We always say a healthy soul in a healthy body. I say the opposite. A healthy body in a healthy soul is also true and even more for your pets.
Obsessive and anxious behaviours, as well as bullying and aggressive behaviours, are often observed when pets live in a non-stimulating environment. They also are more at risk of suffering from obesity since they will want food or treats more often because food intake induces an immediate sense of well-being. We are used to feeding our pets quickly and effortlessly. We make Fido and Felix wait all day, and hop here is a full cup of dog or cat food – that is eaten in no time. Our pets have memorized that the meal constitutes a super exciting moment and eagerly wait for it. But this moment is so short, what else will occupy their day? Are we stimulating our pets? Some may entertain themselves, but unfortunately, it’s far from being the majority.
So what am I suggesting here? I don’t pretend to have found the perfect solution. I have explored some avenues and can give you some tips, one being to give your dog, your cat (and why not your bird, hamster or reptile) an opportunity to adopt biological behaviours specific to their species. In nature, animals are not served their meals in a bowl. They must work for it. They must find food, which keeps them busy for a greater part of the day. An animal must search, dig, scratch, watch, and hunt to find food, which keeps the animals so busy that they don’t have time to get bored. I don’t suggest that you should buy dozens of mice and let them loose in the house for your cat to hunt them. No, we can put to use your cat’s hunting nature and your dog’s need to play.
The idea is to place food rations in toys specially designed for this use. This will force your pet to use its brain and dexterity. Put a canned food ration in a Kong toy and freeze it to make the fun last longer. Plus it contains fewer calories and is more balanced and nutritious than treats and peanut butter! Plus you can wash the Kong toy in the dishwasher. We often make pets work to get treats. Why not make them work for their food? Plus, no need to have food bowls, not even for cats! Yes, yes, that’s right, no bowl even for your kitty!
You can do what I do. I don’t use a bowl but I use a measuring cup to measure the quantity of food my pet should eat, and I throw pieces of dry food. You will soon see your cat running for his food. You may think that I am quite dedicated? Not really. In fact, I consider myself rather lazy. On the contrary, this way, I make sure my cats eat, exercise, spend energy and satisfy their hunting. They attack and catch their prey (the dry food), which keep them quite busy so I don’t need to play with a string with them, and I don’t mind picking up leftovers. Start those games when your pet is at a very young age. Pets will get accustomed to those games very quickly, and it will benefit them throughout their life. For more tips and advice, do not hesitate to contact our medical team, and to share your ideas with us!