My fur family currently includes three cats and two dogs. The cats vary in age, Elvis is 10, Buffy is 3 and Samson just turned a year old. They are all rescue cats; Buffy and Samson are both kittens I took care of in foster programs, and Elvis I adopted from the Humane Society when he was 3 months. Elvis is currently the senior statesman of the house, followed by my dogs, two Bichon crosses, Gracie and Lucie who are going to be 9.
Our NoBowl Product Review
Recently we started using the NoBowl system of feeding for cats. The system is amazingly well thought out, with 5 “mice” per cat and a scoop to fill them. The mice are plastic with a cloth covering, and even have ears and a tail. They are quite attractive, which is a good thing since you put them around the house. The theory is that you hide the mice around the house, and your cat “hunts” to find them.
I filled the mice with my cat’s current food and then also left the food bowl out. I put out 10 mice (thinking that since I have 3 cats, they wouldn’t start with the full serving size) and filled them. They fill easily, and if anything, the openings on top may even be a little too big. So iIf the mouse falls over, there is a high likelihood that food will fall out. But it also occurred to me that this might be a good thing, because the cats would quickly see that they contained food. I usually hang out in the kitchen or the living room when home, so I hid the mice in the living room so that I could observe their usage.
For the first several hours, all the cats ignored the mice. Then Samson started playing with one, and food spilled out, which he started snacking on. A good first move. then I came home to find Samson holding a mouse in his mouth by the elastic cord that is the tail. He was obviously pointing out to me that it was empty. He even flipped it up in the air once to show me that nothing fell out.
According to the instructions, you have to fill the mice with a full serving of cat food for each cat each day. To keep them all filled, I gather the empty ones and sit them on the coffee table to fill them. It is ideal to have them all in one place so you can fill them all at once from the cat food bag.
I love interacting with my cats and spending time with them. The NoBowl gives me the opportunity to do that. However, it has been a mixed bag… Samson loves the NoBowl system, while Elvis won’t use it at all. To be fair, I seldom see Elvis eating dry cat food. But he loves several of the type of dry food treats, so I know that he doesn’t have a physical reason for not eating the dry food. To take food preference away from the mix, I filled the No Bowls with dried cat food treats. Still Elvis won’t be bothered. If I pick up a NoBowl and tap out a cat treat or two, Elvis will eat them. Try as I might, I haven’t been able to get Elvis to eat out of the NoBowl.
While getting the cats to learn to use the NoBowl, I placed them around the house in fairly obvious positions. I soon learned that Lucie also loved to eat out of the NoBowls. If they are positioned anywhere on the floor, Lucie finds them. She loves sticking her tongue inside and getting out the food. It makes me think they should also have one of these for dogs, because Lucie thinks they are great fun! (I have never gotten upset when dogs eat cat food, because on the farm we free feed the cats in a common area. The dogs could eat cat food at any time during the day, and often did. They all lived well into old age, so I don’t freak if a little kitty kibble passes their lips).
So to prevent Lucie from eating ALL the cat food though, I started having to stash the NoBowls on the coffee tables, the magazine baskets, places that the dogs don’t usually frequent. I came home shocked to find Samson in the magazine basket looking thru the contents – then remembered I had stashed a NoBowl in there!
Buffy’s habits lay between the two boys. She will eat out of the NoBowl if it is convenient to do so. But I don’t see her climbing all over the house looking for food. Even as I am writing this, Buffy is on the couch eating out of a NoBowl. She emptied the bowl, but left a trail of crumbs on the couch cushion. Those of you with many cats will know how hard it can be to pick up after them, and you don’t necessarily want anything additional causing more mess. However, Lucie just got on the couch and hovered up the bits of leftover food.
I recommend trying the NoBowl for yourself. Especially if your cats are indoor only cats. Anything that makes cats play more is a win in my book. My cats can go outside with me sometimes, so they get variety. Still, the NoBowl is a hit with Samson, liked by Buffy, and ignored by Elvis. Maybe you just can’t teach an old cat new tricks, but I sure would like to try, because an active cat lives a better life!