When given the choice between a freely available meal and a meal trapped inside a puzzle, scientists have found most animals, such as dogs, bears, pigeons, pigs, goats, mice, rats, monkeys and other primates, prefer to work for their food - a concept known as contrafreeloading.
Cats stand out amongst other animals in that they seem to favor an easy meal; however, that's not necessarily because they're lazy, as we'll explain below.
When researchers provided a small sample of indoor cats with a food puzzle and a tray of food in a home environment, the pets ate more food from the free tray than from the puzzle. Even the most energetic individuals preferred to stick to the easy meal, according to activity sensors they wore during the study.
"It wasn't that cats never used the food puzzle, but cats ate more food from the tray, spent more time at the tray and made more first choices to approach and eat from the tray rather than the puzzle," explains Mikel Delgado, a cat behaviorist at the University of California Davis.
Eight cats never even bothered to touch the puzzle, despite having the opportunity to do so for 30 minutes, and none of the cats ate more food from the puzzle than from the open tray.