The number of indoor cats kept in the U.S. has risen along with an alarming rate of feline obesity. 1 in 3 American cats are now thought to be overweight, if not out and out, obese. Of course, diet is a factor in maintaining a healthy weight, but activity levels are also very important! Cats, much like people, can be perfectly happily leading a sedentary lifestyle when there is no access to outdoor adventure. Keeping active not only helps prevent your cat from becoming overweight but by keeping the joints active from a young age, it can help to prevent joint issues. One of the reasons many people choose a cat over a dog is that they are far more independent. You can leave your cat alone all day without them becoming depressed, unlike most dogs. However, this also means the cat is not benefitting from interaction and exercise with the owner during the day. Without adequate stimulation, your cat is likely to sleep the whole day away and this is not good for her waistline!
So to help you out we have some ideas for getting your cat active and encouraging her to play and exercise, both while you are out and about or at home!
Cats like to play but will quickly become bored with the same old toys. The best way to keep her interest is to start with a selection of toys. They don’t have to be expensive, just a variety of shapes and types, and give her a couple at a time. At the end of the day, take them away and switch them out. Change the toys at the end of every day and you will find she is more interested and they do not lose their novelty value.
Spread out some of your cat's daily dry food in a trail. Scatter small amounts of kibble in hiding places around the home. This will not only excite her natural hunting instinct but keep her moving. Of course, this is only suitable with dry biscuits, not with wet food. There are also treat toys, even treat games, available which are designed to hide the food and to stimulate the cat to play with and extract the food. Try a variety of food trap toys to keep your cat entertained.
Creating new toys for your cat to play with is pretty easy. Scrunched up paper, yarn balls or a flashlight left in a dark room against a wall should encourage her to prey and pounce. Laser lights can be great fun. Time spent playing with your cat, coaxing her to play with new toys and try new activities will be time well spent.
Cats love boxes! They particularly like boxes that are half open and they can’t see inside! Next time you get a box, cut some holes in it, close half the lid and leave it at an angle for your cat to investigate. To add to the game you could place some toys inside or even some of the kibbles from their daily trail ration.
If left alone for long periods, some cats can become destructive and scratch furniture. By providing a scratching post or a series of platforms with scratching posts, your cat will have somewhere appropriate to sharpen her claws, play, jump and sleep. Placing the post where there's sunshine will entice the cat to use the platforms. Be prepared, she may end up falling asleep on it!
Catnip is a plant with strange effects on cats. Only a certain percentage of cats (around 55-65%) have the receptors to actually respond to the active ingredient in the plant but, for those that do, catnip induces some hallucinogenic behavior including rubbing, rolling, stretching and laying on the catnip in an amorous manner. Sprinkling catnip on her toys will revitalise old ones or it can be sprinkled over her scratching post to entice her to use it.
We love cats as much as you do. Stay tuned to get the latest advice on keeping your cats engaged, happy and healthy
*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club
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