Fat cats might be cute, but being overweight is not any healthier for cats than it is for humans. Obesity in cats can lead to diabetes, liver problems and joint pain, among other ailments. Thus, if your cat is looking a bit portly, it's important that you take measures to increase his or her activity levels and encourage weight loss. Here are three simple ways to get your cat to exercise more:
Put kibble in a slow-dispense ball or toy
There are many cat toys on the market that have a compartment to store dry cat food, and slowly dispense that food, one piece at a time, as your cat bats the toy around. Using one of these toys serves a twofold purpose. First, it encourages your cat to play a lot more, since he or she will have to bat the toy around in order to eat. Second, it encourages your cat to eat slowly over a longer period of time, rather than chowing down on a lot of food quickly. This will keep your cat's appetite satisfied, so he or she does not come meowing after you for more food as often.
To keep things interesting for your cat, buy two or three food-dispensing toys. Alternate them daily, so your cat does not get too bored playing with the same toy over and over again.
Purchase a cat climbing wall
Cat towers, or cat climbing walls, are great for encouraging cats to exercise. Your cat will exercise and strengthen his or her muscles by climbing to the top, and will get some cardiovascular activity playing with the many toys most models come with. Look for a cat tower with plenty of hanging parts to bat around. To encourage your cat to use the tower at first, you may need to put some food at the top of it or sprinkle it with catnip. As your cat adapts to the tower, he or she should begin using it even more.
Put the litter box on one floor, and the food on another
Climbing stairs Is great exercise—for humans and for cats. If you place the litter box on one floor of your home and the food on another floor, your cat will have to climb the stairs at least a few times per day. If you have three floors in your home (like a basement or attic), you can take this one step further by placing the water bowl on yet another floor.
In addition to encouraging more exercise, you can also help your cat lose weight by purchasing a weight-control cat food. Your vet (like those at Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists & 24-Hour Emergency Hospital) can help you choose one that's ideal for your cat's unique needs.