How to Keep Indoor Cats Active
There’s no denying that cats are safer when they live only indoors. Keeping them inside means keeping them away from traffic, potential diseases, and harmful predators. But indoor cats usually get far less exercise than their outdoor cousins, and that often leads to them packing on the pounds.
Cat Obesity Leads to Common Chronic Health Problems
Just as being overweight poses health risks to humans, it does the same to your cat. And feline obesity is very common these days. In fact, feline obesity occurs in up to 63% of cats in developed countries.
Feline obesity can lead to the development of other diseases that can shorten your cat’s life. These diseases include heart disease, diabetes, metabolic diseases and certain types of cancer.
Feeding your cat a species appropriate diet and doing your best to not overindulge her in tasty treats is definitely an important step to keeping her trim and healthy. But it’s equally important that she get enough exercise each day.
If your indoor cat is like most, she is incredibly content to lay around napping all day. The following are some ways you can help your precious fur ball get exercise indoors:
Make a Play Date
Humans get busy and it’s easy to forget to actually play with our cat every day. You’ve got to make a commitment each day to help your cat get moving. Try to set aside time two to three times a day to have a 10-15 minute play date with your cat.
Purchase a Sturdy Cat Tower
Cats have a natural instinct to climb. You can leverage this instinct to your cat’s benefits by buying them a sturdy cat tower. Climbing up and down this tower a few times a day will keep their muscle mass healthy and help them burn more calories.
Most cats love chasing a laser pointer. It’s like they just can’t help themselves. Shine the laser pointer on your walls and let your cat run around like crazy trying to catch it. Just be careful to NEVER shine the laser in their eyes and don’t let them bump into any walls or furniture.
No, you’re not giving your cat a bath, but you are using your bathtub as a play area. Drop a ping-pong ball in there and watch them go nuts batting that thing around.
Animatronic Animal Toys
Cats are natural hunters and some of the best fun they can have is “hunting” for prey. There are many battery-operated toys on the market that look like animals (rats, snakes, fish) and, being motion-activated, they move and make noise when your cat moves them. These can provide hours of fun for even the laziest cat!
You’ve seen those flexible wands sold at toy stores that usually have ribbons attached to them. You can engage your cat with one of these. Be sure to let them “catch” the ribbon once in a while to keep them motivated. Also, when playtime is over, store these wands away where your cat can’t get them. If ingested, strings and ribbons can cause a blockage which can be fatal.
Not many cats can ignore catnip. This natural herb just really gets cats excited and energetic. Look for some catnip balls at your local pet store or online and watch your cat run around the house batting that ball around.
Many overweight cats are food motivated and you can use this to your advantage. You can either buy a food puzzle, or look at a photo of one and create your own by taping down a cardboard box and cutting a hole on either end and putting a few treats inside. While they won’t be running around, most cats will use up some energy trying to get those treats out of there.
Make Them Walk for Their Meal
Another way to leverage your cat’s love of food is to make them work for their meal. If your cat is like mine, she most likely runs to the kitchen when she hears the can or bag open and follows you around at your heels, excited in anticipation. Place your cat’s food in their bowl, but don’t put it right down. Go up and down a flight of stairs with it. Jog down the hallway with it, inviting them to chase you. Do this for a couple of minutes to help get them moving before putting their food down.
Get Them a Playmate
If your cat is the only pet in your home, you may want to consider getting a playmate for them. Playmates can often be the best motivator of getting up and running around. Before going out and adopting another cat or even a dog, have a friend bring over their cat or dog a few times to see if your cat shows any interest in playing with someone else.
You love your cat and you want to ensure that they are happy and healthy. Getting them to move more is one of the best ways you can do both. Not all cats will take to all of these exercise tricks, but just try all of them to see what will make your cat move more.
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- PetMD: https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_obesity
- MSD Veterinary Manual: https://www.msdvetmanual.com/cat-owners/metabolic-disorders-of-cats/introduction-to-metabolic-disorders-of-cats
- Pet Wellbeing: https://blog.petwellbeing.com/blog/cats/behavior-management/on-top-of-everything-why-do-cats-like-to-climb-things
- National Geographic: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/facts/domestic-cat