All of us cat lovers can agree that watching our fur babies pounce and play is delightful to watch. However with many of our feline friends spending their days indoors, it can be difficult to help them stay healthy. According to vet-reported BCS, 36.8% of cats are overweight or obese. This can lead to health problems for our beloved pets and many other health issues long term.
What is Cat Obesity?
Cornell University helps define feline obesity as, ‘body weight that is 20 percent or more above normal weight’.
With the average weight of a cat being between 3.6 - 4.5 kg, this means that some of our furry friends are weighing in at well over 5.4 kg.
As cat lovers, we always want to spoil our furry friends. However, current trends are showing that there are a growing number of domestic cats that are gaining too much weight from all this affection. Veterinarian Dr Carolyn McDaniel from Cornell agreeing, that “Obesity in cats is definitely a growing problem”.
Why is Cat Obesity a Problem?
When our feisty felines become overweight it can quickly lead to a whole range of associated risks. Obese cats are at greater risk of disesases like diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, urinary problems, lameness, pancreatitis, GI diseases and skin conitions.
So what can we do to help our cats stay healthy or lose weight? Well, research shows that the main cause of obesity in our beloved cats is an imbalance between diet and exercise.
Cats will normally limit their food intake to match their energy output, however some cats aren’t able to regulate this balance. Therefore, as loving owners, it’s important that we help our cats find that balance by reducing excessive food intake, and ensuring adequate exercise.
How Can You Help Your Cat Stay Healthy With Exercise?
We’ve gone out and done the research to find the best ways to help your cat stay healthy with more exercise. Check out our list of five activities below:
1. Create an Agility Course
Cats are naturally adventurous and curious. They love getting into every nook and cranny, searching for hiding places and seeking out new places to climb. Designing an agility course for your cat is a great way to entice them to exercise using their natural urge to explore.
However, doing this can be time consuming for you as the fur parent and tends to take up additional space in your house. If you are looking for a solution that leaves your house looking and feeling like a home rather than an adventure park, you can always head outside.
2. Go Into The Great Outdoors
One of the biggest trends over the last few years has been leash-walking for cats. Training your cat to walk on a leash means that you are opening a whole new world of opportunity for them to explore.
Although this is a fun and exciting way to help your cat exercise, not all cats enjoy being on a leash. For some cats, especially older cats, this can be quite challenging, and many don’t feel safe outdoors. If you are wanting to go on outdoor adventures with your cat, it is always recommended to follow training guides on how best to help your furry friend get comfortable in the great outdoors.
3. Play with a Laser Pointer
Let’s be honest, we’ve all done it haven’t we. Watching our cats chase down the little red dot is so much fun. They get a lot of exercise running after the ‘invisible red dot’ and there’s no need for setting up equipment, or having toys left all over the house.
“Laser toys are often good entertainment, but follow it up with a real toy the cat can catch to avoid fixation and frustration over never being able to catch the light beam,” says Dr Jean Hofve, author and manager of littlebigcats.com. “Be sure to never shine the beam directly into the cat’s eyes.”
4. Exercise with a Furry Friend
One of our favourite things about a cat is that they are fiercely independent, and yet so loving at the same time! But with this, comes the knowledge that they won’t exactly do what they are told. So when you ask your cat to come and play with you, this can sometimes be met with a look of ‘mhhh-hmmm, not today!’. That’s why giving your cat a playmate can be a great way to help them exercise.
A pair of cats can literally ‘bounce-off’ each other, play and encourage each other to exercise. Whether that is wrestling or chasing games around the house. Even if your cat is getting on in years, having a kitten can bring a bit of life back into them and encourage them to exercise and play.
However, not all cats are open to having a new furry companion enter their domain. There are those cats that are more dominant and will not appreciate or welcome the new addition into their home. Also, for us cat-parents, with work, family and other commitments, adding another wonderful feline to the home might not be practical.
5. Our Recommendation - The Cat Wheel
By far the best option that we have found is the use of a Cat Wheel, also known as a Pet Treadmill. This toy is fun and takes up a lot less space than an obstacle course! Not to mention less maintenance than a second cat, and is great for apartment living when you don’t have access to the outdoors.
A cat treadmill allows your cat to run freely for as fast as they want, and for as long as they want. This exercise wheel also serves as a cat scratcher, both inside and outside the wheel. While the sisal carpet and lining provides a secure grip for their run. Designed for the busy fur-parent, it’s wooden construction is super easy to clean with a wet rag or sponge, and the sisal carpet, with the vacuum when necessary.
The love we have for our furry friends can sometimes lead us to overindulging in their food supply and inadvertently leading to health issues long-term. That is why it’s important that we help our cats to balance their diet with fun and active exercise. There’s many ways that you can help your cat do this, however using a Pet Treadmill or Cat Wheel is definitely easy to maintain and a fun way to help your cat stay healthy.