Are you happiest when you are a quarter of your mass overweight? Then why should your cat be? There is an old saying that “a fat cat is a happy cat”, and back in the day of the barn cat that may have been true. With today’s specially formulated diets and high standard of living, a fat cat may actually be unhealthy.
Cats sleep more than any other mammal. This does not mean they are lazy. It is part of their natural energy conservation system from a more primitive time. If your cat is not given the opportunity to exercise their hunting skills the body may use that sleep time in the conservation of unneeded calories. Spayed or neutered cats are in need of a bit more exercise as the mating imperative has been removed, along with the physical activities and exercise pertaining to courtship and mating.
It is fairly easy to offer your cat more opportunities for exercise, both with you and while you are away from home.
Keeping safe cat toys around the house is an excellent first step. As your cat is made aware of these toys, her interest in them may be indulged at a moment’s notice. This allows your cat to get in a little play time without having to depend on someone to provide attention all the time. Be sure to purchase toys that will encourage active play and exercise.
Setting aside about 15 minutes every day to play with your cat is not only good exercise (sometimes for both of you), it is also an excellent form of bonding. This is the time to break out toys you shouldn’t leave your cat alone with. String, yarn balls, feather dusters, and other items that your cat could damage herself with if left alone, are great to share with her when you are available to play. These toys are considered dangerous mainly because when your cat becomes very excited, she may bite or tear off small pieces and swallow them. This can lead to discomfort, and in some cases damage to the digestive tract. Keeping a close eye on her to avoid issues will also offer some competition for her, and get her really revved up!
Give your cat plenty of places she will have to jump or climb to reach. A pillow on top of the refrigerator, special spots on high shelves with no knick-knacks to knock over, cat trees, window ledges, and kitty hammocks will all afford your cat with extra physical activity. Cats love to be up high, where they can keep an eye on everything. These high spots will also afford your cat quiet places to rest, and even allow them to escape the unwanted attentions of other pets or children.
Identify the paths your cat takes to get to her high places. Place small balls along the route. Ping pong balls are great for this as they are not fragile, they are light and bouncy, and they are not easy for your cat to chew up or swallow. As your cat prowls her usual routes through the house, she will stumble upon these unlooked for toys. She will be likely to brush against them, knocking them into motion, and the chase will be on.
Another way to keep your cat on the move is to begin hiding a few cat treats around the house. Choose random places your cat may go, and put the treats out of the way. Place one under the edge of a couch cushion, another under a piece of paper, and yet another out in the open. Your cat will enjoy hunting and finding them.
If you have only one cat, you might consider getting a second, preferably a kitten. A kitten is a little bundle of energy and will insist that your older cat play with them. They don’t like taking no for an answer, either. As the kitten grows, the two of them will develop their own little games to keep each other occupied. It doesn’t hurt that having them both draped across your lap purring will make you feel more loved, too.
A cat, like any other pet, is a responsibility a well as a joy. Paying attention to the physical, emotional and mental needs of your cat will give you both a longer, healthier relationship.