Keeping cats fit can be challenging since they’re mostly kept indoors and they love to sleep most of the day away. Thanks to some tried and true pointers from Dr. Mae Wasson, a veterinarian at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida, we have put together a list of ten ways you can help your cat to stay in shape.
It is not easy telling a pet parent that their beloved furry friend is overweight and suffering from it. Many don’t want to hear it, some take offense, while others feel guilty and beat themselves up over it.
No matter the situation, while it is not a favorite subject of mine, it is an important topic given the negative implications it has on health and well-being.
Grab a cup of coffee and relax, while you read these 6 tips to keep your cat in shape.
Roughly estimated, the average cat needs about 200 calories a day. To put kitty on a diet you can either:
- Feed the same food you’ve been feeding, only less of it. (This can lead to meows of complaints at 3 a.m., making it difficult to stick with.)
- Feed a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet.
- Feed a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
Many veterinarians recommend the low-fat, high-fiber diet option. Talk with your cat’s vet about which is best for your pet (and your sleep patterns).
You can get your cat moving in many ways. A few favorite tips include:
- Wave a fishing-pole toy with feathers on the end. Move it like a bird to encourage your cat to leap and stretch.
- Set up boxes, bags and soft-sided tunnels to create an obstacle course for an interactive exercise session. You can make tunnels by turning boxes upside down and cutting entrance and exit holes.
- Invest in a multi-tiered cat tree and toss or wave toys around it so your cat can jump from one perch to the other during play. This exercise improves balance and coordination.
If your little kitty is getting less and less little, you can use more tips in the infographic below to learn how to get your fat cat back on track.
3. Get to know your cat
Agile and acrobatic, cats are naturally curious creatures. While it’s true that cats love to sleep, many people mistake their dozing for laziness. Cats are just more active at night.
“Cats are naturally playful and active (in between naps of course). You really need to watch your cat closely to get to know what he/she already enjoys doing,” says Dr. Wasson.
4. Make time to play
Cats may display a mellow temperament — until you bring home a laser pointer or catnip toy, that is. Dr. Wasson also has some suggestions on that:
“Does your cat hide and pounce? Try placing a cardboard box or paper bag (no plastic bags) in the middle of the floor and throw a catnip mouse inside. Then, just sit back and watch the show. Is he/she under the coffee table? Try teasing with a peacock feather.”
It is a common misconception that cats are generally aloof. Just like any other pet, the more affection you give to your cat, the more responsive he will be. Cats also tend to respond better to repeated behavior. What does this mean?
“Take some time every day to play with your cat and you will both benefit from it. Remember, boredom is your cat’s worst enemy.”
5. Doc knows best
If your cat is overweight, some of the best health advice you can get from your veterinarian. Some feline breeds are just larger than others, so it’s important to know what is normal for your cat.
Other than the obvious hanging tummy, a veterinarian will be able to measure your cat’s fat to muscle ratio and determine if kitty needs to go on a diet. Your pet’s doctor may also do lab work to determine your feline’s overall health, as well.
Stay well informed. Because obesity can be defined as an excess of body fat that is enough to impair health, welfare, and quality of life, it is critical that pet parents help their cats maintain their ideal weight.
While diet is an essential element, it is no more important than adequate exercise, play and the opportunity to be fit and active.