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In the wild, cats have to hunt if they want to eat — which means running, jumping, climbing. Indoor cat food, on the other hand, is often lazily lying in a full bowl, and the only physical exercise required from the cat is to duck his head. This lead to many issues, including excess weight and boredom — I'm not going to give a lesson about cat feeding, I advise you to google for this topic.

There is, however, a simple solution : puzzle feeders, or food puzzles. A puzzle feeder is a device with which the cat has to actually interact in order to get his food. It can either be physically stimulating (e.g. a simple ball with a hole for food to get out) or mentally stimulating, or both. In any case it should help the cat eating more slowly and stop when he's not really hungry anymore (which, in principle, happens sooner when you eat more slowly).

There are a number of commercial solutions, some of which are cheap yet quite interesting. But of course if you're reading instructables you must be more interested in DIY solutions. I started with simple devices such as a plastic bottle with a hole (works, but expect grease and crumbs of dry food everywhere in the room) or a small pot too thin for the cat head (works well, as long as it's fixed), but somehow wanted something a bit more stimulating.

Here comes the wooden cat puzzle feeder tower.

Disclaimer : This is my first wood work (and my first instructable), so don't expect professionnal tips… This project was mainly a pretext to get my hands on woodworking. In addition, English is not my first language, so expect grammatical issues and (in particular technical) vocabulary flaws.

Step 1: Make Plans

First, draw your device on a piece of paper (or a computer, or whatever). It will help you avoid obvious flaws, improve efficiency, get dimensions, etc. Below are plans for mine — sorry for the poor picture, I may redraw it later if needed.

How it works, from top to bottom :

  1. you fill dry food on top, then close the lid ;
  2. the cat presses on the levers, which makes food fall down on the first plateau — the "gate" comes back into position with its own weight and/or counterweight(s) ;
  3. using his paws through the windows, the cat pushes the food into the hole — the plateau is slightly lower than the window, plus there are gaps on the sides, so he can't easily catch it ;
  4. the cat repeats step 3 as many times as necessary (depending of the number of levels and the size of the holes) ;
  5. the food finally falls on an inclined plan to be redirected in front of the tower.

It's a good idea to make a cardboard prototype and give it to your cat, it really helps improving things

<p>Nice work! Yup, very nice! Thumbs up!</p>
<p>GREAT IDEA!</p><p>It may be possible to modify a vertical rotating CD stand sometimes found at thrift stores. An offset drill would be needed to make the food holes but there would be less &quot;woodworking&quot; in terms of cuts and measure.</p>
Wonderful project. I hope to see more projects.
<p>Very interesting project. I have a cat who could use one of these. It seems to me that the wood you are using is 1/4&quot; oak veneer MDF. Any plywood would be a good substitute.</p>
<p>WOW! I wish I had a clue how to do wood work! You should sell these because I want one for my baby!! Love it! </p>
<p>Tr&egrave;s mignon ! Je pourrais essayer cela. Je pense que mes chats l'aime !</p><p>(I hope that's right. My French is nowhere near as good as your English!)</p>
<p>Don't kid me, I know my English is full of grammatical horrors.</p><p>Switch &quot;aime&quot; for &quot;aimeront&quot; or &quot;aimeraient&quot; and you're good ! ;)</p>
<p>Mais si j'essayais d'&eacute;crire une plus longue note, vous verriez combien mauvais mon Fran&ccedil;ais est vraiment !</p><p>By the way, if you ever have time, a clearer drawing of your plan for the cat-feeder would be helpful. And thanks again for sharing!</p>
<p>Awesome project! Just wondering, what is your native language? My guess would be French, with the x on plateau and the Opinel (a French knife, for those who aren't nerds like me).</p>
<p>Bingo. ;)</p>
<p>Cool! I feel like Sherlock Holmes.</p>
<p>I like this! Never would have thought of something like this! Your cat is very lucky. :-) A couple of my old cats would have especially enjoyed this. </p>
<p>Excellent project. I'm so glad that you're one of those people who realize that a kitty can be pretty intelligent too. 4 paws up!</p>

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