We recommend keeping your indoor (and outdoor cat for that matter!) lean for its lifetime. Fat cats are prone to getting diabetes, arthritis, and feline lower urinary tract disease, which are all very expensive to treat, and easily preventable by keeping your cat in good physical condition.
We often hear, “But my fat cat is LAZY, and he likes being like this.”
If you put your fat lazy cat on a diet you will find him becoming more active, happy, and social, not to mention a lot cleaner because as cats get fat, they lose their flexibility and therefore ability to clean themselves. So how do I convince my lazy cat to be more active? Here are some suggestions for you to try:
- Slim cat balls: The cat’s food is put into the ball, and the cat has to push it around to get the food out of it.
- Laser pointer: Fun and entertainment for the entire family, but be careful not to overdo it! If your cat is mouth breathing or panting, It’s time for a break.
- Catnip toys: Your cat will love to roll around, chase and of course drool and slobber all over these. Catnip is not as effective for kittens and a small percentage of the adult cat population. Be aware that if your cat eats too much catnip, they may vomit or have diarrhea.
- Crinkle Balls: these tend to be soft with foil material that makes a fun sound that kitties respond with great enjoyment. Not to mention the plethora of other toys out there. Each cat will have his own preference but be sure to get toys that they are not going to pull apart and swallow small pieces, like a bell for example. Supervised play is always recommended.
- Fetch: some cats have favourite toys that they love to play with while laying on or around their favourite human. I have found that if you acquire and toss these particular toys, the cat will fetch and return them.
- Stairs: If you have stairs in your home, and your cat is not arthritic are a simple way to encourage activity. If the cat spends most of their time on one level, feed them on the other. Throwing toys up or down the stairs, or having them chase a laser toy up and down them makes for good entertainment as well. Cat trees or towers also give your kitty a reason to get moving vertically.
- Cat Wand: A toy dangles on the end of a string attached to a handle (kind of like a fishing pole for your cat!). Lots of fun to be had with your cat but these should be put away when you are not playing with them, as they often have attachments that you do not want your cat to swallow or they may chew through the string.
- Hide meals around the house: Cats are natural hunters, used to eating small meals throughout the day. This will make your cat hunt for their food and not eat so much at one sitting. Plus there’s the bonus of burning extra calories while they search.
- Food puzzles: These encourage the cat to push or move things to get the food from the bowl. This is a fantastic toy as it exercises their mind as well as their body.
Train with food. I know I just said we should calculate the amount of food your pet should eat and treats can throw that all off, BUT you can use your kitty’s breakfast to entice activity. For example, put a kibble from morning breakfast on the top of the cat tree and once he is at the top put another at the bottom and repeat. You could sit on the couch watching your morning news and toss a kibble of breakfast. When your cat wants another she will return to you, at which point you send her running again for the next kibble. Cats can be trained, and the food is your best motivator. Many of these activities mimic hunting behaviours and therefore are not only good for your pet’s health but also her mind.
Did you know?
80% of cats over 12 have arthritis. They also need to be active and kept lean to reduce the amount of pain they are in, but remember not to overdo it with these kitties. If your older cat needs to lose weight call us and we can calculate exactly how many calories to feed and discuss what diets best meets her needs.
Please be cautious when purchasing cat toys, especially if you have a dog in the home. Be sure to purchase toys that your dog will leave alone. Many cat toys are so small that dogs may accidentally swallow them, become sick and need to have them removed surgically.
At Hillcrest Animal Hospital we want to help your cat have a long and happy life with proper nutrition, preventive medicine and a healthy active lifestyle. If we can help you in any way, please call us, we are always happy to help.
Written by Darlene Cannon, RVT