By: Mel Adams, RVT
“Ask a Vet Tech” is an ongoing advice column written by our resident pet expert and registered vet technician, Mel Adams. You can find her online at: www.vettechmel.com.
My cat is a little overweight and my vet says I need to exercise him more. He is not that interested in playing with his toys and I am not comfortable letting him outside on his own. What can I do?
I can answer this question because I used to run a weight loss program for cats at one of my previous jobs. Getting enough exercise is very important for a successful weight loss plan, but can also be one of the biggest challenges for indoor cats and their owners. Some breeds, such as the Bengal, are naturally very active, whereas others, such as the persian, are relatively inactive. Cats, like people, need about 30 minutes of activity each day to stay healthy. Getting your sedentary cat up and moving to work off those pounds will not only lead to weight loss, but will also strengthen the bond you already share… and who doesn’t want that?
One great way to increase your cats activity level is to simply make some changes to his current living conditions and every day routine. Here are a few tips:
I once met an owner whose cat was so food driven, that she would exercise him by throwing his kibble, one piece at a time, down the hallway for him to run after. Worked like a charm!
The next challenge comes in finding the right toys that your cat will play with. I am yet to meet a cat that I couldn’t get to play with some sort of ‘toy’. They are just like people, in that not everything amuses everybody. So, discover if your cat is a ‘bug cat’, ‘mouse cat’ or ‘bird cat’ and try to simulate those creatures with your choice of toys for him. “Bug cats” will appreciate small, faster moving objects, whereas “mouse cats” will find great amusement in slower moving toys. To attract a less interested cat, try getting toys laced with catnip or a catnip spray to put on his current toys. Here are some of the toys I’ve had great success with:
The key with toys is to change them frequently. A new toy is always attractive at first, but then becomes less interesting after a few hours. Don’t leave toys lying around for days on end, or you will be forever going to the store to find new ones. If you rotate the toys available, you will get better use of them and will make the more expensive toys much more worth buying.
For more on keeping your indoor cat active, check out my blog posting here.
Committing to your veterinary prescribed diet plan and a little extra exercise will have your cat in tip top shape in no time. Playing together will increase your bond and make you more aware of your cats needs – making you an even better pet owner.
Thanks for the great question,