|A "skin" holds the NoBowl cat
The NoBowl Feeding System provides portion-controlled dry food meals in little plastic containers that fit inside "skins." The skins look and sort of feel like mice.
The idea is to hide the "mice" around the house, so your cat has to hunt for his food.
When he finds it, he can swat the mouse around until all the food falls out, and then he gets to enjoy a small meal.
How Cats Like To EatInstinct tells cats to eat several small meals a day. Outside, they might hunt and eat what they catch as many as 20 times in a 24-hour period. And Mother Nature doesn't present their food in plastic bowls or on cute ceramic dishes.
Their mealtime ritual is to watch, pounce, shred their prey with their teeth and then eat it off the ground. No dinnerware needed.
Veterinarian Susan Bales, who developed the NoBowl system, says "food is only half of the mealtime equation." Hunting, she says is just as important. And when we deliver our cats' food to them in bowls, we're "denying them the ability to fulfill this instinct."
Looks Like A Mouse, Feels Like A Mouse... Sort Of
The soft fabric skin of the NoBowl Feeding System is intended to simulate prey. Cats can grip it with their claws to pick it up and push it around like they would with a real mouse. Bales says its shape is designed to move and roll like a mouse would.
The plastic dishes holding the dry food fit inside the skin and are secured with a drawstring.
Sounds Great, But...The question is, will cats hunt for dry food? If they can't smell it from a few feet away, will they even bother looking for it? If the "mouse" doesn't move and squeak like a real one does, is the thrill of the hunt missing from the equation?
And cats love routine and predictability almost as much as they love catching things. Cats who live outside and spend their days hunting still appreciate finding a bowl of food delivered to the same place at the same time every day, although they'd probably be just as happy with only the food and no bowl.
I envision very hungry, grouchy house cats if they have to spend their days tracking down motionless, almost-odorless bits of cereal, which is what dry food really is.
My cats don't eat dry food because it's so bad for them in so many ways. And we don't have plastic dishes. But if we did this, I think I'd use the mice to replace the bottomless bowl of dry food and leave them in places that were easy to find. Then, the cats would have the fun and stimulation of "killing" their food, even if they didn't have to hunt for it. They'd still get their wet food in bowls, in the same place, twice a day.
If you want to try the NoBowl Feeding system, you can buy it online on Bales's website. And if you do try it, I'd love to know what your cats think. You can tell us in the comments section below.