It is estimated by veterinarians that 40% of cats are overweight and a majority of these cats are indoors only. Talking with other Bend veterinarians; we feel that percentage is very accurate for the feline patients we see on a daily basis. So how do we help our indoor cats shed those pounds? Most of them will not let you take them for a riverside walk along the Deschutes! A drop-off kitty daycare is an insurance claim waiting to be filled after an urgent care visit to the vets office!
Diet reduction is often a key component into helping our indoor cats lose pounds. Free feeders are a quick way to plump up even the youngest cats. A consultation with your family veterinarian is a great first step to better determine the caloric intake needed for your feline companion. Once diet is under control it is time to get your cat up and moving.
Here are the 6 best ways to exercise your indoor cat:
1) Laser Pointer - This in my opinion is the best bang for your buck. I have seen some of the biggest cats still get up out of their favorite recliner to take a swat at it. Use caution where you point the laser; some cats will leap to attack the innocent red dot. If you are pointing it on the curtains in the room, or near a favorite vase; you may be asking for trouble.
2) Place their water and food in different rooms. The distance you provide between locations equals many more calories burned throughout the day. If you live in a two story home, then placing them on separate levels would be recommended.
3) Placing their food and water on elevated surfaces means your cat is going to burn more calories with every leap to quench his hunger or thirst.
4) Cat trees, window sills, cleared book cases- What do they all have in common? These locations provide good vertical spaces to burn further calories and they are open 24 hours!
5) Homemade toys that won't break the bank. A simple piece of paper wadded up into a ball can provide fifteen minutes of play. Boxes, tubes, mirrors, and bags can all provide daily entertainment for our feline friends. They will never catch on to the kitty crossfit layout you leave in the house each day while you are at work. They won't recognize that playtime can be their daily workout.
6) The stringed feather on a pole! This can be homemade or purchased at most pet stores. This simple item will keep your feline friend pawing away at it until your arm and wrist get sore. I do not recommend leaving this toy out when you are not around. My years of emergency experience remind me that it only takes a few minutes for a cat to ingest a potentially deadly length of string.
This list is simply the top 6 ways to keep your indoor cat exercising. There are plenty of other toys, or activities that can keep your indoor cats active. The more active they are the healthier lives they will live, not only physically but also mentally.