Tips to Get Your Flabby Feline Moving

  • Tag — your cat is it! Many cats experience pure pleasure from a rousing game of laser light tag or fun with a flashlight. In addition, it is hilarious to watch. Just be sure to never shine the laser into the cat’s face or eyes (or anyone else’s for that matter).
  • Catnip crazy. Many cats will pounce, sink their teeth in and then carry it around. You are likely to get the added zip of crazy behavior from the catnip.
  • Scratching-post “slim”nastics. Although we don’t necessarily think of it as exercise, a vigorous scratching-post session provides both mental stimulation and great muscle stretching for your overweight cat. Be sure to provide plenty of (non-furniture!) scratching options around your home.
  • Cat-tree calisthenics. Climbing up and down an intricate cat tree provides great exercise. In addition, the high perch appeals to cats' desire to watch their surroundings and will be a very welcome addition to your repertoire of cat toys. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a fancy tree either. Cut holes in some small, sturdy boxes and use packing tape to stack and stabilize them for safe climbing and hiding.
  • Get your walk on. Thoughsome cats never warm up to the idea, other cats will indeed be willing to venture outdoors on a leash walk (although, first make sure your kitty is protected against fleas, ticks and heartworms). Start by trying a cat harness, and, if he accepts it willingly in the home (after a few tries), then try to take him out. Start slow and work up to a walk on the grass or sidewalk. Be prepared: If he loves it, he may cry to go out all the time!

Try to engage your cat for at least 10 minutes twice each day. If your time is limited, most of these activities can be done while you eat, watch television or even read.
All the exercise in the world won’t help your overweight cat if you aren’t also attentive to what you’re feeding him. As part of your move toward better health, be sure to get a full medical checkup for your overweight cat and ask your veterinarian to determine your cat’s ideal body weight. Find out how many calories your cat should eat every day to meet that goal safely. As obligate carnivores (true meat eaters), it is easiest for most cats to lose weight on high-protein, low-carbohydrate canned food. Your vet may have some recommendations for you. Don’t ever try to put your cat on a diet without veterinary supervision. Cats have unique dietary needs and metabolic systems, and drastic changes in the quantity or type of food they are consuming can make them very sick. Be sure you don’t make any abrupt changes in their diet, but instead gradually ease them into a new or lower quantity of food.

With the help of your veterinarian, start your kitty’s exercise plan and diet regimen, and, hopefully, you will begin to see a more slender and playful Sylvester emerge. You can feel good that you are minimizing the health risks of obesity and helping your cat live a more playful, mentally stimulating and, hopefully, happier life.

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