Finding ways for your cat to lose weight is a game of trials and compromises, and finding the balance between what suits your lifestyle and your cat’s personality is the hardest part!
Thankfully our Locum Vet Dr Renae Wood has put together this helpful post on DIY cat exercises that you can make and do in the comfort of your own home, and out of everyday objects you can find in your household.
Why are we worried about your darling fluffy being overweight?
Just like humans, carrying extra weight can predispose cats to illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis and fatty liver syndrome. Monitoring your cat’s weight is also important because weight gain can be a symptom of a more hidden illness – such as diabetes.
How can you tell if your cat is overweight?
All cats are individual and will have different ideal body weights. This means that when deciding if a cat is overweight we like to look at the “Body Condition”, not just the weight in kilograms. If you find that you have to use pressure to feel your cats ribs and you cannot see an obvious waist then chances are your little fluffy is overweight.
How to get your cats weight down?
The first thing the veterinarians will probably ask is what type of food are you giving and how much. It is fairly simple for the veterinarian to change the diet to a weight loss food and advise that no treats or other food are to be given. It can seem quite difficult to some owners not to give their little fluffy a treat when they are rubbing against their leg and looking very cute.
If you do like to give your cat a bit of a treat, try putting his/her daily amount of food in a small container in the morning. Feed fluffy using only the food from that container, if you want to give a treat, get some kibble from the container.
- Exercise, Exercise, Exercise.
This part is all about using more energy than they are putting in. Playing with your cat is great for a number of reasons, not just to keep them looking trim, taught and terrific. Play can help improve the human-animal bond, improve their quality of life and reduce those “wild frenzies” that cats will often have in the evening if they have some pent up energy they need to use. Playing at a regular time can also help reduce anxiety during the day for those anxious prone kitties.
This does not mean that you have to go and buy a large number of toys from the pet shop. You can make a number of interesting toys from things you might have at home. The first tip is not to have them all out at once, but to rotate them so they stay interested.
Some of the toys you could try to get your cat exercising include:
- Crumpled up paper on elastic. You can tie the elastic to a door handle or on your belt so fluffy follows you around the house playing.
- The centre roll from paper towel or toilet paper.
- Sock filled with crumpled paper or cotton balls. You could try hanging this from the door frame with a coat hanger.
- Ping Pong ball
- Paper bag, cardboard box. Cats love play best when you’re involved, once fluffy is inside you could try gently scratching the outside with your finger and get her to try and catch you.
- A tunnel (try making a tunnel with a couple of boxes lined up in a row).
- Non-toxic soap bubbles
- Pen light or laser light.
So what do you do if your cat does not want to play with toys?
We all know that cats have their own, very independent and stubborn personalities. If your fluffy does not like toys then they will not play no matter how hard you work it! The trick here is to make them work for their food – again there are a few easy ways you can do this at home. It is a matter of finding the one that works for your fluffy and changing it up when they cotton onto what you are doing.
- Try putting the food bowl in a different location each day so that she has to try and find the food.
- Put the food in multiple locations around the house. This could be up or downstairs, up on a window sill or on the top of the cat tree/scratching post, under the bed.
- If fluffy has a favourite bed or cushion try placing it in different places or up high
- Place the food, water and kitty litter in different locations in the house so that she has to walk from one to the other.
- If your cat follows you around until you feed it then there are a few ways you can make them work
- Move the food bowl while she is eating. You could move it from the ground up onto a bench so she is jumping between.
- Walk around the house holding the food bowl and have her follow you, stop every now and then and give her some food.
- Have two people on opposite sides of a room and alternate who gives her some kibble.
- Throw one piece of kibble at a time across the ground for her to fetch.
There are an almost never ending list of ways we can increase the exercise our cats do, it’s just a matter of us as owners trying all different options until we find something that works for our special, one-in-a-million cat! We wish you the best of luck finding one that works for you and hope you have loads of fun playing with your special family member.