grey cat

I like to think of myself as talented and crafty. The number of times I've seen a necklace or a cat toy and thought, Hey, I could do that! are too numerous to count.

The number of times I've actually succeeded at following through on that claim, though? Twice. And that's if you include the "successes" below. (Which, after seeing them, you…might not.)

So how did I wind up following my crafty inner voice? The folks at Purina ONE, who have been putting a lot of time and effort into enriching our feline friends' lives through various types of play and puzzles, reached out to me with some examples of feline food puzzles that could easily be made from materials already on hand. In fact, they sent me step-by-step instructions for assembling the puzzles. How could I resist? And — more important — how could I fail?

"I can't possibly screw this up! I'm in!" I said to myself and my cat. And I was sure it was going to be a smash. It just looked so simple, and of course Trixie would love it!

(There was, of course, absolutely no guarantee that Trixie would love any of this. The only things she loves with any predictability are her dangly feather wand toy, making biscuits on my feet at 3 a.m., and stalking and scaring the dog — who outweighs her by over 30 pounds. But that's not to say I haven't tried to get crafty on Trixie's account. Once, shortly after we adopted her, she found a box she loved to lie in, so in order to make it more "special," I wrote her name on it in block letters. She never so much as looked at it again.)

So how did the DIY food puzzles go? Well, the crafting part was a breeze.  I organized my sanitized bottles and all the other required materials and prepared myself for the sight of Trixie joyously playing with her new toy — and showering me with love and thanks, of course, because naturally she'd know I'd made it just for her and be eternally grateful, right? Isn't that how cats work?

My expectations may have been too high.

I removed the label from the first bottle. I carefully cut holes in it. I tossed in some kibble and even a few treats — just on the off chance that Trixie wasn't sufficiently tempted by the puzzle itself, or the food inside it.

DIY bottle food puzzle

And then, I presented the finished puzzle to her. And I waited for her to start batting it around and delighting in the fact that she could basically hunt her own food!

cat and food puzzle

"Maybe she's just not comfortable with it up there on her perch," I thought to myself, so I secured the dogs in another room (because this was Trixie's treat, not theirs!) and moved the puzzle down to the floor. And waited some more.   

cat and food puzzle

Unfortunately, Trixie had other ideas — which did not involve playing with the food puzzle. On to Project #2: The Reach Box Feeder.  

DIY box puzzle feeder

I made my cuts carefully and with as much precision as I could muster, taking extra care to avoid any sharp edges. And where precision failed, tape seemed to work pretty well. I stuffed some clean paper towel in the bottom of each bottle to take up room, then topped them off with a generous helping of kibble (and, once again, treats). And, to make it extra special, I put Trixie's name on the box. What cat could resist this?

cat and feeder puzzle

This time at least she was definitely intrigued, if only for a moment, but she still wasn't eating. I decided to try a different location to see if that might tempt her into doing more than cautiously sniffing the food. Maybe she just didn't want to snack in the living room.

cat and food puzzle

"Probably she's just not hungry," I told my husband, as he struggled to hold in his laughter (unsuccessfully, I might add). "I mean, how much of her breakfast did she eat?"

cat eating

We went in search of Trixie and found her inside with her face shoved into her regular food bowl, chowing down and scattering bits of kibble everywhere (as she tends to do when she's excited about her food). So clearly it wasn't hunger that kept her from engaging with the puzzles.

What's that old saying? You can lovingly create and design a custom food puzzle for your darling kitty, but you can't make … well, you can't really make her do anything, can you? After all, she's a cat.

But hey, at least she didn't show her disdain for my project by peeing on the rug — so I'm calling this a success.

Anybody out there tried something along these lines? Was your cat willing to participate, or did she just stare disdainfully at you and your DIY craft?