Everyone knows the lazy cat stereotype, but the reality is that cats shouldn’t be lying around all the time. In fact, cats who live exclusively indoors are often far too sedentary.
“We have found that cats kept only indoors often do not receive enough mental or physical stimulation,” says Dr. Terri A. Derr, founder of Veterinary Behavior Options, which serves the Greater Twin Cities, Minnesota. “Non-possessed cats, especially those that are not part of a feeding colony, have to hunt prey to eat. You also need to avoid predators. Domestic cats don’t do any of these things. “
It is safer to keep your cat indoors than to let them run around. So it is up to you to make your home as stimulating as possible for your kitten and to encourage your cat to exercise.
“When cats lose the ability to hunt, catch, play, and eat naturally, they can become depressed,” says Dr. Liz Bales, writer, speaker, and pet expert for Fox and Friends and ABC News. “As cats get older, they play less, and if we don’t play with them actively, they may not play much at all.”
Dr. Colleen Sawyer of Rolesville Veterinary Hospital in Rolesville, North Carolina reminds us that exercise is good for your cat’s body too. “It reduces the risk of diabetes, urinary tract problems, matted hair, and joint disease,” she says.
How do you get your cat to be more active? Exercise some of the following options:
Help your cat play
Aim for at least two five- to 15-minute gaming sessions each day.
“My cats’ favorite are their fishing rods,” says Dr. Bales, founder of Doc and Phoebe’s Cat Company. “This is great for your relationship and for getting it moving. Don’t forget to allow them to catch their prey and then give them a little treat. This hunt, catch, and play cycle allows them to relax instead of staying in hunt mode. “
Dr. Bales also points out that some cats really like an impeller, which is like a giant hamster wheel for cats. “This can be a great option if your cat is using it,” she says.
Why is Kitty so lazy?
According to Dr. Sawyer can do many things to make a cat less active, in addition to being overweight, including boredom, lack of environmental stimuli, and pain associated with osteoarthritis. Dr. Sawyer recommends bringing your cat to your veterinarian for regular checkups to rule out a medical reason for its inactivity.
“Treating back or hip pain can greatly improve a cat’s quality of life and make them more active again,” says Dr. Sawyer, who recently examined a 3-year-old cat who was brought in because it was sleeping more and having an increased breathing rate. “It turns out she had heart disease,” she says. “When we started her on medication, she felt so much better, running around and playing with her roommate.”
You might be surprised to find out that spaying or neutering in general is not what causes a cat to idle.
“Spaying and neutering alone doesn’t necessarily cause lethargy,” says pet expert Dr. Liz Bales. “However, by castration and castration, the calorie requirement can be reduced by up to 30%. Most people do not appreciate this change and continue to overfeed, resulting in weight gain and lethargy. “
What to feed a less active cat
To prevent weight gain, less active cats may benefit from eating certain types of foods that are lower in calories. “Avoid anything marked” all stages of life “as it contains enough calories to support young, growing kittens and nursing mothers (queens),” says Dr. Sawyer. “This often results in excessive weight gain in our less active adult cats indoors. It is worth talking to your veterinarian about your cat’s specific needs. “
Your veterinarian may recommend foods marked for adult care or one of the many foods designed for less active cats, such as: B. those marked only for cats indoors or for weight control. Examples include: BIORoyal Canin Veterinary Diet Satiety Support Dry / Wet Food ($ 42.99) and Purina One Indoor Advantage ($ 24.99), both available at Chewy.com and other pet dealers.
According to Dr. Bales, the type of food is less important than the total calories; The average domestic cat who is not overweight needs about 250 calories a day. “I like science-based foods that have lifelong studies of how to deal with reducing calories and getting all the essential nutrients in,” she says. “In a weight control diet, the nutrients are adjusted to this reduced total volume and calorie limit.”
Tips for motivating cat exercises in a playful way:
- Throw a ball or mouse to hunt. Swing a feather or toy attached to a cat fishing rod toy.
- Point the laser pointer at the floor or furniture (never in the eyes) or use a toy with flashing lights that the cat can pounce on.
- Bring your cat a cat exercise bike.
Get your cat exercise with rock climbing
Cats that run around outdoors love to climb trees and climb walls for a good lookout point. You can also give your house cat the opportunity to climb. “Adding vertical spaces in the house, such as a multi-tiered scratching post or an outdoor play area called” catio, “encourages exploration and jumping to different heights,” says Dr. Sawyer.
Tips to motivate your cat to climb:
- Get Kitty a vertical climbing tree.
- Put cat stairs or ramps in front of beds or window sills.
- Add cat shelves or catwalks to the upper areas of your home.
Help your cat get more exercise by encouraging exploration
Cats are wired to explore, but if your home is always the same, your cat won’t be expressing this natural active behavior.
“Domestic cats become familiar with their surroundings and find little stimulus to explore them,” says Dr. Derr. “If we don’t try hard to introduce new things regularly, cats just get bored.”
Tips to motivate your cat to explore:
- Rotate toys and place them in different places around the house.
- Bring home new scratches or towers and / or bring existing ones to new locations.
- Hide low-calorie treats, cat grass, or catnip in separate rooms so your cat can look for them.
- Build a Catio with safe outdoor space.
- Train your cat in the use of a harness and take them outside to explore, or take them with you in a cat-friendly backpack or stroller for mental stimulation.
Do you hunt cats
In the wild, cats would spend a lot of energy hunting for their food, but domestic cats only need to stroll to the food dish to get their fill (and more). “We have to create ways that a cat can be a cat,” says Dr. Bales. “Drop the bowl and let your cat look for its food. Put small amounts of feed in several hunting lodges and hide them around your house [your cats] back their natural drive to move. “
Dr. Derr likes to give out toys to eat and to develop games around feeding time to encourage exercise. “Try putting dry cat food around the house so the cat can trip over it or chase it,” she says. “Find a food toy so that small amounts of food come out if the cat hits the toy. Anything that makes a cat work or think about its food is a great idea. “
Tips to motivate your cat to hunt:
- Don’t feed from the same old bowl. Use an enrichment / puzzle bowl or food tree.
- Hide dry food in different places around the house so your cat has to look for it. You can also do this with cat grass or catnip.
- Place nibbles or treats in a toy that the cat will have to grapple with to get the food out.
If you follow through with these tips and find that your cat is still a couch potato, it may be naturally so. “A certain level of activity is determined by personality,” says Dr. Derr. “Relaxed cats are likely to react differently than closely wounded cats. But there is always something you can do to help your cat exercise. It may take persistence and experimentation, but in the end, your cat will appreciate it. “