The reason I bought the Pyrus Pet Intelligence Puzzle Feeder – I’m doing my best to get a hold of as many food puzzle toys as I can since they’re Avery’s favourite toys to engage with, and both the quickest and easiest way for him to get some mental stimulation structured into his day.
I use the Catit Design Senses Food Maze to feed Avery his main meals, and while I don’t actually believe this will ever change (I think it’s the perfect feeding toy!), I do love the idea of feeding him snacks in a rotating array of food toys, different from one day or week to the next. Since many feeding toys stimulate different types of activity (digging, sniffing out, grabbing, etc.), I feel like switching from one to the next would help Avery stay mentally active better than sticking to just one.
Avery’s the type of cat who’s not at all a fan of his humans leaving the room. We live in a studio flat, so it’s not like we have that many rooms to go into. Still, if Thomas is in the kitchen and I happen to be in the bathroom, he’ll meow at one of the doors until he’s let in. At dinner, when both Thomas and I are in the kitchen, Avery kicks up a fuss. He doesn’t want to come into the kitchen with us, likely because our kitchen table only has space enough for two humans, and not enough room for a third chair for a very human-like cat. So we’ll call Avery over and he’ll come in for a second, and then dart out, trying to bait us into following him into the main room to be his entertainment.
This would be fine with me, only that’s just where the shenanigans start. While we eat dinner, more often than not, he’ll spend the entire time whining and crying for us to come out and play. Or not really to play, because once we come out and see if he will engage in play time, well – he doesn’t. Instead, he just seems to want to lure us away from our dinners so that he always has company, or passive entertainment in the form of some human-watching.
I decided before I bought the Pyrus Pet Intelligence Puzzle Feeder that it would likely be the perfect toy to use during times like these. Why I never could use the Catit Design Senses Food Maze – Avery knows just how to get food out of there and if he’s in any shape or form bored when I put in some kibble, he’ll polish off his snack in quite literally a minute or two; nowhere near the amount of time I’d need to distract him so that we could have our dinner in peace. But if I had a more difficult puzzle feeder, this wouldn’t be an issue any longer.
When I did buy the Pyrus Pet Puzzle Feeder – my system worked perfectly fine. I’d give Avery some snacks right before we sat down to eat dinner, leaving the door open so he could keep us updated with meeps and I could keep him encouraged with my repetitive congratulations on him mastering a new, more difficult feeding toy.
The toy was absolutely wonderful at keeping him engaged for long periods of time. How it works is simple, but tricky for pets. To fill the puzzle toy, you push aside those little “button like” coloured wood circles, put a few pieces of kibble in the hole, slide back the coloured circles, and then if you want, add some kibble to the second hole. You also get a couple vertical pieces to use if you’d like – to place as covers on top of empty holes that can then be knocked over by your pet to expose what’s underneath. The round section at the bottom is also a sliding system, so it’s a hide and seek toy that’s more challenging than I’ve seen offered thus far. The process of getting food out of it takes my kitty a while, and he’s an expert when it comes to puzzle feeders. It can keep him busy for half an hour or a few hours depending on how much food I place in there. This high difficulty aspect is where this pet toy shines.
But there were downsides to this toy that I couldn’t ignore, leading me to stop giving him snacks in this feeder altogether. They were the following (the most important being #2):
- Avery didn’t always get all the food out of the feeder.
This sounds like it shouldn’t be too frustrating, but it was. If he didn’t eat some food in the puzzle feeder, either cause he didn’t smell it or because he didn’t think it worth the effort, and I left the food in for the next day, he definitely wouldn’t be able to sniff it out then because it would lose its potency. I had to keep “refilling” this toy in front of Avery to assure him there was actually food still in it – otherwise he would just not bother to uncover all the parts of it himself. Again, my guess is this is because he couldn’t very easily sniff the food hidden underneath out. Maybe this is because my cat food isn’t particularly potent in the first place, but I can’t be sure he’d easily sniff all food out regardless of what kibble I used. I think that’s something to do with the fact that wood pieces were used to cover the food – hard to smell something that’s hidden beneath wood.
- It absorbs moisture and Avery licks it to get his kibble out.
Yes, the coloured pieces used to cover the holes are made of wood, but the toy itself is made out of MDF, rather than wood proper. Improperly finished or unfinished MDF is moisture absorbent – which I feel is a recipe disaster for bacterial growth. When Avery licks this toy to get his food out, the saliva marks he leaves don’t leave. Not ever. I tested this by waiting around a month to see if the stains would ever evaporate. Nope. My camera doesn’t pick up on the stains so well, so sadly the photo below was the best I could do to show you. Either way, the fact that my cat regularly licks food out of a toy that absorbs moisture like this bothers me, because in my head the bacteria from his saliva and the cat food will become trapped in the MDF and accumulate, even if I wash it, so I lost interest in using it because I don’t feel it’s particularly hygienic.
I so desperately wish this toy was made out of plastic and dishwasher safe. It would’ve been absolutely perfect if that was the case. I daresay the fact that it’s made out of MDF helps considerably in some ways. It’s very heavy, meaning it stays in place well when Avery pokes and prods at it. I don’t know if it’d be viable to have made the same toy out of plastic, but either way, I’m too bothered in the hygiene department to use it any longer. I put it out religiously for a while to test, as I used to do when I first bought the Trixie Fun Board (reviewed here), but seeing how it stains, I don’t feel comfortable continuing to use it.
If the toy was gloss finished all over, the fact that it’s made out of MDF would be a non-issue. If moisture and bacteria can’t get past the finish to soak into the MDF, why would it be an issue? I don’t think it’s properly finished, however, because if it was, I don’t think Avery’s saliva would be permanently staining it. So yeah basically – it’s pretty much a no go for me due to hygiene concerns.
Some who have bought this toy have complained about other aspects of its finish, saying the bits that pieces that slot in on top, made of real wood, are not properly finished/sanded down and are thus not safe for pets. They’re rough for sure (see a close up below), especially those little circle cut outs for your pet to grab onto to pull/push. But I don’t think they’d give your pet a splinter since they’re painted over. Either way: not the absolute best toy when it comes to fit & finish.
Of course, Avery gets his food out by licking, while other pets may not do this. If you think your pet won’t get food out by licking, I’d say go for it. If your pet scoops out his/her kibble from this feeder, there’s no reason to discontinue using it. But if he/she stands a chance of licking his or her food out like Avery does, I’d be wary of using it for very long.
What else can I say? The Pyrus Pet Intelligence Paw Feeder is cute, it’s very challenging, and would be the absolute perfect pet feeder toy, in my opinion, if it was properly finished.
As it stands, it absorbs moisture, particularly where Avery sticks his tongue in to lick kibble out. My fear that it will absorb and collect bacteria inside it, even if I wash the outside, and that over time this could make my cat sick, prevents me from putting it out and using it.
It’s a great concept for a cat toy that was, in my opinion, poorly executed where the points matter most with a feeder: hygiene.