Exercises to maintain a healthy cat weight

5 min read

Pablo Medina Bener

Veterinarian

Before they were domesticated around 10,000 years ago, our cats were hunting machines. Their ancestor, the wildcat, would roam through the deserts at dawn and dusk, looking for birds, mice and other rodents to feast on (basically the same animals they enjoy hunting today!) By leaping, stalking and pouncing on their prey, they would burn a huge amount of calories.

Today, it's important we stimulate these natural instincts and give our cat a blend of 'wild'activities to enjoy. Our kitties still require a meat-based, high-protein diet and they need the exercise to compensate. If not, they can easily slip into weight gain, which can reduce their quality of life and increase the risk of diabetes, arthritis and heart problems.

In this latest post, we'll talk about the wild workouts you can provide indoors through toys and puzzle games. Each of these exercise options is designed to support a healthy cat weight and assist your cat in losing weight.

'Predator play' exercises

In this latest post, we'll talk about the wild workouts you can provide indoors through toys and puzzle games. Each of these exercise options is designed to support a healthy cat weight and assist your cat in losing weight.

There are loads of games and challenges we can set for our cats using toys and accessories. These gizmos are usually cheap to buy and you can even make them yourself.

Here are six of our favorite examples.

The cat cave

If your cat has a den, they have a place to pounce from! You can create the cave by simply turning a crate or basket on the side and giving your cat some comfort by laying a couple of old towels.

The laser light

Many readers will have experienced this simple pleasure at some stage: shining a light onto a wall and watching their cat jump to try and catch it. As long as you use a low- wattage laser that's designed for pets and avoid shining it directly into their eyes, it'll bring hours of fun.

The wand

Even the most lazy or chilled cat will find it hard to resist the allure of a fake mouse or bunch of feathers being dangled in front of them. By attaching one of these little teasers to a wand, you'll have your cat leaping around in no time! The wand is super-simple to make, too: all you need is some feathers, a stick and some glue!

The catnip ball

There are loads of ways you can use catnip to get your kitty moving, but one of our favorites is a little ball which they can push and chase around the room. There are loads of catnip-filled balls available online, or you can create your own by cutting a hole in an old tennis ball and sprinkling a dose of the magic herb inside (some manufacturers make tennis balls specifically for pets, and they're designed to be safe for our furry friends).

The cat tree

Our cats are born to climb, and a little tree in the house can fulfil this natural urge as well as giving them a safe space. The cat tree should have various levels, challenging your cat to move up and down and get a lovely workout in doing so. You can also spray some catnip on the branches to give your kitty an extra incentive.

The cat exercise wheel

If you've ever had a hamster, you'll know what we're talking about here! The cat exercise wheel is really a loop, rather than an enclosed globe, but the idea is the same... it's like a treadmill that allows your cat to burn off their calories. You'll probably need to train your cat by dangling a treat in front of them while they're standing on the wheel, but if they get the hang of it (and you've got space in your house), it can be an amazing workout. We've actually got a video on how to train your cat to use an exercise wheel, and you can find it here.

Puzzle games for your cat

In addition to the toys and accessories mentioned above, you can give your cat some additional exercises by leaving puzzles around the house.

One of our top recommendations is the treasure hunt. You leave some bowls of kibble or catnip around the house, preferably in covered areas that allow your cat to (safely) pounce and spring. Your cat can then hunt them down one by one, sharpening their mental skills as well as getting a great workout.

Alternatively, you can lure your cat to follow the wand around the house, taking it from room to room. Make sure you give them regular treats or allow them to catch'the wand at regular intervals, so they get that hit of satisfaction.

Finally, if you have an active cat, you can take things up a notch by playing hide and seek. You can start off by hiding their favorite toys inside towels or blankets, and you can even hide yourself; just pick a spot your cat's already familiar with and make a gentle noise to rouse their interest.

To get maximum benefit from these activities, we recommend you spread the games over as wide an area as possible, taking in several rooms. If you have stairs, try to ensure the game goes up and down them.

And of course, make sure the game is safe. Cords, strings and cables should be safely kept out of reach, and the game should not cross any dangerous territory. If you're playing hide and seek or treasure hunt, don't include the washing machine as it may encourage your cat to nestle there in future.

And finally...

As we mentioned earlier, it's important to back up your cat's exercise plan with a meat- based diet that's packed full of protein. This will give your cat the fuel they need to throw themselves around; not only that, it will ensure they don't have any unnecessary calories in their diet.

In fact, Vitakraft has created a range of options specifically designed to support a healthy cat weight. If you want a treat to get started, check out our Purrsticks range: these little snacks are provided in small servings that are easy to portion out.

References

1. https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/ turning-cat-wheels-could-your-cat- benefit-from-this-feline-exercise-trend/ #:-:text=Those%20benefits%20include%20 weight%20loss, %2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20behavioral %20issues.
2. https://katzenworld.co.uk/2020/07/11/ are-laser-pointers-bad-for-cats/
3. https://blog.petcube.com/is-it-bad-for- cats-to-play-with-laser-pointers/ #:-:text=Don't%20point%20the%20laser, a n%20extended%20period%20of%20time.
4. https://www.instructables.com/How-To- Make-an-Awsome-Cat-Toy/
5. https://catbehaviorassociates.com/the- benefits-of-a-cat-tree/
6. https://catexplorer.co/stories-posts/ keeping-your-cat-happy-inside-home
7. https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/ turning-cat-wheels-could-your-cat- benefit-from-this-feline-exercise-trend/ #: text=Those%20benefits%20include%20 weight%20loss, %2C%20anxiety%2C%20and%20behavioral %20issues.
8. https://www.hillspet.co.uk/cat-care/play- exercise/creating-scavenger-hunt-for-cat
9. https://www.hillspet.co.uk/cat-care/play- exercise/creating-scavenger-hunt-for-cat
10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ articles/PMC2920156/

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Thick and Creamy Topper or Side Dish

Tender chicken fillet pieces in a thick and creamy stew! Great for older cats!

Creamy Lickable Treat in a Squeezable Tube

Squeeze this creamy, low-calorie treat right from the tube onto your cat’s tongue and watch your cat lick 'n' lap it all up!

Super Soft Bite-Sized Meaty Treats

Cats love the size, texture and high meat content of these soft and tasty, double-meaty treats!

Gently Oven-Roasted Cat Sticks

High meat content (>70%), small batch production and premium ingredients combine to make these truly irresistible.

Thick and Creamy Topper or Side Dish

Tender chicken fillet pieces in a thick and creamy stew! Great for older cats!

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