Try This: DIY Puzzle Feeders for Cats

These recycled toys provide mental stimulation for cats.

two gray cats play with DIY feeder cardboard box on floor

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

If your feline friend is home alone for long hours, is having behavioral problems or needs to get a little exercise, a puzzle feeder might be the solution.

Puzzle feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all operate in a similar way: They challenge your cat to work for food. In addition to providing mental stimulation and aiding in weight control, puzzle feeders can also help cats who are prone to vomiting from eating too quickly.

There are a variety of such feeder toys on the market, but you can be more eco-friendly (and save money) by making your own with a few common household items. It's a fun way to upcycle some items that you might otherwise throw out.

Here are a few DIY puzzle feeder ideas.

Turtle feeder

black and white cat sniffs DIY egg carton turtle feeder on white floor

Treehugger / Jordan Provost


Egg carton

Nontoxic glue



Binder clips

Decorating materials


  1. Cut an egg cup from the carton to serve as the shell of the turtle.
  2. Place the cup adjacent to the spacer bump on the reverse side of the top of the carton. Trace around the perimeter to outline the contour of the spacer. This will form the head of the turtle, as well as a base to keep the food inside the shell.
  3. Cut the lid following the outline you’ve made.
  4. Apply glue around the edge of the egg cup. Clamp the two pieces together using the binder clips. Let the glue set.
  5. Decorate your turtle.
  6. Fill the turtle feeder with food and let your cat bat it around to get a food reward.

Reach box feeder

gray and white cat scoops treats with paw out of DIY feeder cardboard box

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Three or more plastic water or soda bottles (8-ounce to 24-ounce)
X-ACTO or utility knife
Duct tape or nontoxic glue


  1. Clean and sanitize bottles.
  2. Cut the tops off the bottles, varying the height at which you make the cuts.
  3. Trace around one of the water bottles on the top of the box. Repeat this step different locations along the box top, doing it once for each bottle.
  4. Cut holes in the box top. If you cut the hole slightly smaller than the border you traced, the narrow bands in the bottle will help hold it in place without tape or glue.
  5. Set the box with the bottle openings at the top and place food inside each bottle. Your cat will have to reach in to scoop food out.

Wheel feeder

two kitties play with DIY wheel feeder made out of recycled plastic containers

Treehugger / Jordan Provost

Round food container with a lid, such as one used for sour cream or cream cheese. Don't use PVC-based containers.
Spare container lid
Non-toxic glue.
X-ACTO or utility knife


  1. Clean and sanitize container.
  2. Cut a few small holes in the sides of the container that are large enough for your cat's food to pass through.
  3. Glue an additional lid to the bottom of the container that's slightly larger in diameter. This will alter the way the feeder rolls and add variety to your cat's playtime experience

Why Pets Matter to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. The better we understand our cats, the better we can support and protect their wellbeing. We hope our readers will adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.