Why Use Food Puzzles?
The Trixie Activity Flip Board is a puzzle toy. Like all puzzle toys, it involves hiding food for your pet to find. This way of feeding makes a cat use his brain to find food. Although not quite like hunting prey, it none-the-less requires problem-solving skills. Much like crossword puzzles, this use of brain power is good for mental health. A mentally engaged cat is less apt to be bored, and less apt to have behavioral problems.
Although this flip board is marketed for dogs, it is a great food puzzle for cats. I like that the food stays in one place. (Puzzle balls for cats can be batted all around the house, dropping food that may be missed and left behind.) I also like that the food remains covered until found. This keeps it fresh throughout the day. Some cats will just eat from one or two hidden spots at a time, saving the other hidden food for later. This toy provides three ways of hiding the food, so three types of puzzles to solve.
How it Works
The above-photo shows a filled board. One way of hiding the food is in two wells covered with a plug. The yellow plug in the photo has been removed so that you can see the well. It holds about 5 pieces of dry food. The ad for this flip board shows a dog removing the plug with his mouth. As you can see in the video below, my cat just smacks the plug with his paw. He sometimes enjoys playing with the plugs. They make a lot of noise when batted around on a hard floor. If you use this puzzle at night you may want to put the toy on carpet, or you may just want to not use the plugs.
Videos of the Trixie Food Puzzle in Use
As you can see in the video, a cat will have to fish the pieces out of the well with his paw. This uses more brain power than just eating out of a bowl.
The red lids with the imprint of a bone on them need to be slid to the side to uncover the food. The second video shows how this is done. A cat gets to use problem-solving and dexterity to paw them to the side. The yellow lids must be opened with the yellow lever. Again, paw dexterity and trial-and-error get a work out. In the second video, the toy is empty so that you don’t have to sit through watching my cat chewing the food to see how the toy works.
Although my boy is active and plays rough, this toy gets him to slow down and think. For shy cats, it is a confidence booster. If you have multiple cats, you will need to train them separately on how to use this board. You will also need to have more than one food puzzle. You may need to supervise their use so that one cat does not get all of the food.
How to Maximize the Enjoyment
When training a cat to use the Trixie Activity Flip Board, start out with food in the wells with the plugs off, and the lids open. Put the board where the cat usually eats. Later on, you can put it in various places in your house, so that your cat has to hunt it down before finessing the food from the wells in the toy.
I like to fill and place the toy while my cat eats his breakfast. That way, he doesn’t see where I put it. When he finds it, he gets a snack later on that day. He also gets to use his brain in a safe way, without me needing to be home. You could also fill and hide it at dinner time. This can help your cat be content at night, and stave off an early-morning wake-up call from him. I highly recommend this toy for cats.
You may also enjoy reading my review of a remote-controlled snake toy.
Patience Fisher owns Patience for Cats LLC, a cat behavior business based in Pittsburgh, PA. She is Associate Certified by the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She holds a Bachelor’s in Biology, a Diploma of Feline Behavior Science Technology, and is a certified veterinary assistant. Visit her on Facebook at Patience for Cats.