Feline Friday: Keeping Your Cat Fit For the New Year
Does your cat look at you with disdain when you flick the same old toy his way? Is he turning into a fat cat?
Unfortunately, cats are becoming increasingly overweight much like dogs are (and humans too... ouch!) Like humans, the risks for cats being overweight include joint problems, diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease, high blood pressure, compromised immune function and may even predispose them to certain types of cancer.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), approximately 55 percent –- 47 million -- of U.S. cats are overweight or obese. Good luck on getting your cat to the gym. And simple calorie restrictions are not without risks. Cats requiring weight loss have to have their diets monitored by a veterinarian so they do not head into a life-threatening situation called hepatic lipidosis.
Even small weight changes can make a huge difference to a cat. For instance, an extra two pounds on a cat translates to about 28 extra pounds on a 140-lb. woman.
Most domestic cats weigh between 8-10 pounds, but your veterinarian will let you know the proper weight for your cat, since certain breeds, like the Maine Coon, can be healthy at up to 25 pounds.
Please visit the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's site for general weight loss tips, but this is only a supplement to your veterinarian's care.
Simply moving the food bowl around or even using foraging methods for feeding are good ways to give your cat exercise and to remind your cat he's still got wild roots. Hiding small bits of food around the house is also mental exercise that will give your kitty his cattitude back! Do not use an automatic feeder or your cat may simply eat out of boredom. If he's begging and he's already had his prescribed food, try playing with your kitty as a distraction.
If your cat is an only cat that has grown too sedentary, consider adopting a younger cat or kitten. Having a buddy is often helpful for improved grooming and play time.
Invest in a variety of cat toys. Alternate them so your cat doesn't get bored.
Some can be toys that are self directed. My cats' personal favorite is the Starchaser. It features a scratching area, and a light-up ball that runs on a circular track.
It's also important to play with your cat to improve the bond you share. Play with your kitties for 15 minutes a day will greatly improve their physical and emotional health! The Kong Swizzle Teaser is a durable choice. Any fishing pole type cat toy is ideal for interactive play.
Cats respond differently to catnip. For some, it just makes them more mellow. For others, it can make them more active. If your cat needs an extra activity nudge, see if catnip and catnip-laced toys can entice your cat to play.
How have you encouraged your cats to stay healthy and active?