The Exercise Connection to Healthy Cat Weight Loss

To healthy cat weight loss

Think your cat is trim and fit? Most aren’t. The most recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that nearly 58 percent of feline pets are either overweight or obese. And that 2014 number is up slightly from research six years earlier.

Like the people they live with, cats need exercise to shed extra pounds and restore their svelte physique. And also like their human hosts, the consequences for lugging around extra weight are serious, ranging from osteoarthritis to high blood pressure to decreased life expectancy.

Watching what your cat eats is a given — healthy diet, healthy cat, right? We know moderate portions and healthy foods are important for them just as they are for us. But a nutritious cat food isn’t enough. Without the other side of the equation — proper exercise — you won’t have a fit kitty.

Where do you start? Approach the concept with a few key points in mind. First, cats are natural hunters. Their ancestors and relatives stalked prey for their meals. Second, cats also notoriously lazy. Your cat is happy to spend most of its day lounging in a sunbeam. It’s up to you to help your cat overcome that urge.

Finally, your cat doesn’t have a very long attention span. Keep that in mind when it’s time to engage them in play.

Here are a few tips to coaxing your cat toward a daily workout.

Combine mealtime and playtime. Play into your cat’s instinct to hunt for its food with simple toys that parcel out goodies as your cat engages in a little fun. A simple cardboard box filled with a small bit of kibble and a few holes can keep your cat active while it seeks a snack. The Internet is full of ideas for toys and puzzles you can buy or make that can keep kitty active in her quest for food.

Devote time every day. Spend 10 to 15 minutes in active play with your cat, also using its hunter instinct to help it get active. Fishing rod toys, toy mice, motorized toys and other tools can keep your cat moving. Even a laser light pointer or a flashlight can light a fire behind your cat’s eyes. Just remember to let it catch its prey occasionally or your cat will get bored and move along.

Adjust with your cat’s age. Younger cats may initiate playtime, and will likely stay engaged longer than older cats. Older cats — or overweight cats — may not have the endurance to stick with it. Any time you can spend benefits your pet.

Use what’s lying around the house. Of course, scratching posts and kitty-condos can entice your cat to keep moving. But a few open boxes, an open paper grocery bag and or a few empty toilet paper rolls can keep your cat moving. Pay attention so none of it turns into a choking hazard.

Remember that the best type of exercise for your cat is object play. Cats love their toys. The right type of play will not only keep their bodies fit, but their minds sharp as they pounce, tumble, hunt, paw or stalk across the living room.


Further Reading about Cat Obesity and Cat Activity: 

Pet Obesity Remains at Epidemic Levels According to New Research - Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
Exercise and Its Role in Treating Overweight/Obesity - Banfield Pet Hospital
Interactive Puzzle Toys for Smart Cats - The Conscious Cat
Exercising with Your Cat: A How-To Guide - PetMD
Fat Cats: Questions and Answers for Getting Your Tubby Tabby Back into Shape - WebMD
Obesity in Cats...and What to do About an Overweight Cat - PetMD
Obesity Facts & Risks - Association for Pet Obesity Prevention
A healthy cat food isn’t enough. Cats, like people, also need exercise.
Leverage your cat’s instinct as a hunter to coax it to exercise.
Make 10 to 15 minutes a day to actively engage in play with your cat.