Cat Crafts: How To Make An Easter Egg Puzzle Feeder

Easter is over. Now you may be wondering what on Earth to do with all those leftover plastic Easter eggs. If you’re like me when I’ve got the spirit of frugality coursing through my veins, you’ve already packed those things away for next year. Or, you may be like me on one of my careless, “not bothered” days. In which case, you’ve already chucked them all into the trash. Who needs plastic eggs, anyway? BUT if you’re like me on one of my aloof, “It’s Wednesday already??” days, chances are you still have all of your decorations out—from Christmas…of 2015. No need to fear; I’ve got you covered. If you’re a fellow cat parent, this cat craft is going to make cleaning up those plastic eggs so much more fun. Plus, your kitty will love it too!


The Guinea Pig (Ahem…I mean, cat) 

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Meet my little doll face, Miss Cami. This photo was snapped bright and early Easter morning (allegedly). It was actually around noon. As cute and cat-like as it was for her to be sleeping in the middle of all the Easter festivities, it wasn’t very much fun. In my humble human opinion, she needed to be up and about playing—not sleeping the entire day away. I decided that it was high time to kick her Easter spirit into full gear…but how? I had already poked her. I had also tried prodding. Nothing was working. She just snored in my face. Ah, the sweet sound of defeat. No, really. She snores as loud as somebody’s grandpa. I wish she kept peppermints in her sweater pocket like somebody’s grandpa. Heck, I wish she wore sweaters.

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Then I found a yellow plastic egg on the kitchen floor. I have no idea how it got down there. None of my plastic eggs were used for decoration this year (for the first time ever), so I was a bit surprised to see it. I figure it fell out of the decorations box. Anyway, when I saw it, a lightbulb went off in my head. Now that the egg had fallen on the floor and had who knows what kinds of germs on it, maybe I could give it to the cat to play with. Although, I had tried that the year before and she hated it. Fickle little moo. I picked it up anyway and tried to think of ways to repurpose it. Then I had it: I could make it into a puzzle feeder!

If you’ve never heard of a puzzle feeder before (I hadn’t until very recently), it’s a great way to appeal to a cat’s natural hunting instincts. Essentially, a puzzle feeder is a toy that spits out food or treats when a cat engages with it. Apparently, they are great for cats that are left home alone a lot, cats that are destructive due to boredom, or cats that need to learn the value of independent play. I would say that Miss Cami falls under category C. She desperately (also read as I desperately) needs a means of entertaining herself by herself because she follows me around 24/7. When I get up, she gets up. When I lie down, she lies down. When I go to eat, she goes to eat. I basically have a feline shadow. I love her to pieces, but I need alone time too!

I recently tried to make a homemade puzzle feeder out of a water bottle, but it was a disaster. I didn’t  align the holes correctly, so the food fell out every single time it was moved, which is not the point of a puzzle feeder. If she was supposed to work for the food, she sure didn’t have to work very hard! Besides that, she wouldn’t play with it by herself. I had to keep moving it in order to show her what to do, but when she saw that I had food in my hands she became more interested in me than it! I saw opportunities for design improvement with the plastic Easter egg, so I decided to give puzzle feeder construction another go. What I came up with was super easy, super fast and a major hit with my picky, but sweet four-legged friend.


What You’re Going To Need

  • Plastic Easter Eggs (preferably one per cat)
  • Electric Drill (with a drill bit meant for plastics or a Philips-head screwdriver attachment)
  • Your cat’s favorite food and/or treats
  • Catnip
  • (Highly Recommended): Safety Goggles  – Does anyone else’s mind automatically want to type “Google” every time they mean “goggle”? No? Liar.
  • (Optional): Patience

 


Let’s Get Started!

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1 Open the egg and place the halves flat-side down. You do know you shouldn’t do this on top of a toolbox that’s on top of a dryer, right? Right?? Well, good. I clearly didn’t know or care (I’m thinking the latter), so I proceeded to attempt this exactly as you see it. However, you really should care and be safe by working on a sturdy, flat surface like a worktable or the ground outside.

I would definitely avoid drilling on any ceramic or glass surfaces, as you can accidentally hit it with the drill, send a piece of it flying…etc. I’m sure you get it. And wear some safety glasses if you can. You can never be too cautious while messing about with plastic items—they can crack and break really easily.

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2 Drill holes straight through each end of the egg. Looking at my drill, you will see that I used a Philips-head screwdriver bit instead of a proper drill bit. Using a drill bit is going to be much easier, but I liked the screwdriver because the extending prongs made the holes the perfect size that I needed (and I didn’t have to go looking for it). I only wanted Miss Cami to have holes big enough to smell the contents of the egg, but not actually have things constantly falling out all over my floor. If you want your holes to be large enough for the treats to fall through, you simply need to drill a starter hole before using a larger bit to widen it to your liking.

If you look at the ends of your eggs, you may already see a slight indentation where the holes are supposed to go. I used this as a type of drill guide, which made drilling through the plastic a lot easier. I could rest the bit in the hole and apply gentle downward pressure to help the bit bore through the plastic.

I recommend using your drill on medium to medium high power. Since the egg isn’t stationary, we don’t want to turn the drill on full blast and have stuff flying across the room. Slow and steady wins the race here, so just be patient with the drilling process until you get the perfect holes for your particular needs.

You can then drill additional holes along the sides of the egg (make sure to use an actual drill bit meant for plastics if you do). I wouldn’t recommend drilling side holes using a Phillips-head screwdriver attachment because the risk of cracking or breaking the plastic is likely. I personally wanted Miss Cami to open the egg to gain access to her treats, so this is a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to drill additional holes or doesn’t have a plastic-suitable drill bit.

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3 Fill up your egg. Once you are happy with the number, size and placement of your holes, grab the treats you plan to stuff the egg with and fill it up. I recommend placing some food/treats in the egg before sprinkling the catnip on top. This helps to prevent small flakes of catnip from prematurely escaping the egg and making a complete mess on your floor.

As for what you can stuff the egg with, the sky is the limit. You can add in whatever your cat loves to eat or should eat. I decided to mix in Miss Cami’s favorite chicken flavored treats with some salmon flavored dental treats (that she’d never tried before). You could add in some of their food, some cat grass—anything that is safe for cats is a great choice.

Just make sure that if you actually want food to fall out of the puzzle feeder, you choose stuffings that will fit through the holes. You can also crush up the catnip to make it fine enough to occasionally fall out, which is exactly what I did.

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4 Close it up and test it out! This is the fun part. When I was finished making the egg, I came back to the bed and Miss Cami was still sleeping. In fact, she hadn’t moved at all. She must have smelled the catnip as soon as I put the egg next to her though because her little green eyes popped open as though she’d been awake the entire time! I decided I really didn’t want the egg opening on my bed, so I placed it on the ground for her. She wasted no time jumping down and having a twenty minute fun fest with it.

As you can see, she grabbed it, chewed it, rolled it (and herself) and had the time of her life.  It was pretty cute. Every now and then, some catnip would fall out onto the carpet, which she couldn’t help but eat. Strangely, she couldn’t get the egg open on her own. She is quite honestly too gentle for her own good, so I eventually opened it to reward her for her hard work. She’s still playing with it days later (after a refill), and I even hear her rattling around with it at night. This is quite the compliment from a cat who refuses to independently play with any toy outside of Squeaky (her toy mouse). -XO

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