Has your tiny kitten turned into a huge ball of fluff? Do they have less energy and only move when they hear the sound of food hitting the food dish? Caring for an overweight feline can be challenging, especially when it comes to keeping them active.
Obesity affects 59% of domestic cats in the U.S., and is considered the leading health threat to our furry furiends. Being overweight can cause a dramatic loss of activity, and lead to conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart, liver, bladder and kidney disease. Yikes!
If your cat has been packing on the pounds, it’s up to you to help them reduce their risk of these serious health issues. While managing their diet certainly helps, you’ll also need to get your cat losing weight the good old-fashioned way- by exercising.
When regular play sessions just aren’t doing the trick, these
pawsome activities can encourage your plump kitty to move, and turn playtime
#1 Send them on a Treasure Hunt
Feed your cat’s natural hunting instinct by sending them on a hunt throughout the house. Set out a trail of their furvorite treats that lead to different rooms. Once they understand the game, hide the treats in more hidden areas to encourage them to find their “prey”. Have them go up or down stairs for a real workout, or even on surfaces off the ground they can jump to.
#2 Use a Laser Pointer
This oldie but goodie seems too simple, right? But for a lot of cats, chasing that little red dot is exhilarating and can get even the laziest of cats to move. Start moving the dot around on the floor, and when your cat is really invested, move it through different areas of the house, up walls, on the furniture or cat trees, and up the stairs.
#3 Start a Game of Tag
This kid game can be a furrific way to get your cat engaged and bond with you. Just tuck feathers or a toy wand into your belt, sock or shoe and get your cat to notice it. Once they start batting at it, move around the room to get them to chase you. Then play keep away for as long as your cat will chase. If your cat is not very interested, try rubbing catnip over the feathers or toy.
#4 Try a Puzzle Game
Puzzle games are wonderful tools to engage your cat’s body and mind that come in different levels from beginner to expert for all kinds of cat abilities. Usually, they are boxes or boards that feature hidden areas for treats. To get the treat, your cat will have to move doors or latches, or find the right hole. There are also mats that hide treats inside folds that cats can sniff out and pounce on once they find the “prey”.
#5 Play Bathtub Ball
A really fun game for your cat to play, and for you to watch, involves two things: your bathtub and a ball. Just drop a ping pong ball, or your cat’s furvorite ball, into the bathtub and let them try to grab it. They’ll be moving fast to snatch it while it whizzes and bounces around the tub’s curves. You can also use a toy dipped in catnip, or even the laser pointer!
#6 Go for a Walk
During the sunny days of summer, give your cat some real mental stimulation with an outdoor adventure. Train your cat to walk on a leash, and let them take a peaceful stroll around the yard. There’s sure to be stuff to sniff, see and hear that will wow them! This new experience can be jarring at first, so take it slow and increase the walking time a little each trip.
#7 Use Meals to Move
Invest in a couple food and treat dispensing balls, and use
them to feed your cat their daily meals. They’ll have to knock the ball around
to get the food to fall out, and while not quite as mentally challenging as a
puzzle game, your cat will be working their body chasing it around. These are
great boredom busters too, as you can leave them around the house while you are
gone to give your cat something to do.
Diet and exercise are the best ways to help your cat drop some weight, but here are a few extra considerations that may also help.
- Plant cat grass inside for healthy munching.
- Bake homemade, healthy treats for your cat without fillers and preservatives.
- For games, use toys dipped in catnip instead of treats to reduce the calories.
- When using treats to get your cat moving, be sure they make up only 10% of your cat’s total calorie intake for the day.
With your help, your overweight feline bestie can get moving
closer to a healthier life while having a blast with their furvorite person.