If your cat has been diagnosed with obesity or you are just concerned about their declining activity level, you’ll be comforted to know that there are plenty of ways to encourage your cat to be active. It is not an easy process. It will require lots of encouragement and help from your end and you will not see results overnight. Make sure that there are no underlying health issues that may be causing your cat’s lethargic state with a trip to the vet before beginning any process on your own.
Purchase the right products
Cats are not as easy to please as dogs so you may have to spend some time (and money) finding which toys tickle your cat’s fancy. You can start to narrow down your cat’s preferences by using household items like pieces of fabric vs. paper. Does your cat like something that makes noise, or prefer something that moves silently. Some cats are only interested in interactive play as well. Just because your cat loves playing with his mousey when you’re home, does not mean he even looks at it when you’re gone.
Interactive toys that do not require your energy to operate are great for independent cats and cats with owners who do not have much time to spend exercising them. There are tons of these types of toys on the market. Some examples are a hide-a-mouse toy, which features a mouse or feather on an arm that is battery operated and moves sporadically under a piece of fabric. Another popular option is automated laser toys.
Think outside of the box from your typical toys as well. Think about structures that might encourage activity. A cat tree can promote jumping, climbing, and other exercises that will keep your cat healthy. Scratchpads or towers are another good way to encourage your cat to stretch and be active without your intervention.
If your cat is REALLY disinterested in everything you try, you may want to try an exercise wheel. Keep in mind that this type of activity will require much more effort from you and your cat will probably not be willing to participate at first. However, with the help of some props and treats, you can surely get your lazy kitty to take a few steps.
Catnip can also be a great motivator. This depends heavily on your cat’s reaction to catnip. Some cats become very hyperactive and playful when they are given catnip, while others become sleepy, lethargic, and confused. Make sure your cat is of the hyperactive catnip user variety before attempting to use it to promote exercise.
Assess your cat’s diet
You’ll need to review your cat food ingredient list to make sure that it contains all the nutrients that your cat needs to be healthy. Check out our blog all about cat food to help you figure out what to look for! If your cat is eating high-quality food but still seems to be suffering from a lack of energy, you may want to check with your vet to see if there is any prescription food she can recommend. You should also review the ingredient list of any treats you are feeding your cat on a regular basis and refrain from giving your cat human food at any point.
Making sure that your cat is drinking enough water is also important since dehydration can cause lethargy. In the wild, cats typically do not drink water. They get most of their water intake from their prey. This is why wet food is so highly recommended as it mimics their natural diet more closely than dry foods. You can also make sure that your cat’s water dish situation is ideal.
Cat’s are very smart, and they know that typically standing water is dirty water. They also will not drink water that is close to their food or waste. This is to protect themselves from waste contamination and diseases that can occur from it. Investing in a water fountain that can be kept in a separate space from your cat’s food dish and litter box is a great way to encourage your cat to drink water.
Stimulate your cat’s brain
Sometimes your cat needs something a bit more interesting and engaging than a toy is able to provide. We mentioned automated toys before, and those are great but even they can be figured out by our clever cats. Rotating toys frequently can help to keep your cat interested so they aren’t just playing with the same old toys day in and day out.
Consider food puzzles, which kill two birds with one stone. By causing your cat to slow down and work to get her food, she will feel fuller more quickly, and she’ll be burning more calories while eating. It’s a win-win! There are tons of food puzzle options on the market, some that require batteries and others that do not. Either one will work, just make sure to think about your cat’s play style when purchasing.
You can also get the party going with a cat-stimulating TV program. There are entire networks and YouTube channels dedicated to entertaining cats. This can work great for cat parents who work or do not have the time to invest in playing with their cat. It can also be a great way to get your cat moving before you introduce a toy or puzzle.
Another, more risky, option is to adopt another more active cat. Depending on your current cat’s temperament and how well she does with other animals, this may be the solution for you. A playmate of equal size and capability will encourage your cat to play more often. Plus, it is much easier for another cat to get an unwilling cat to play than it is for a human.
Consider your cat’s environment
Does your cat have the ideal space to be active in? An ideal space is one that offers multiple levels (window sills, chairs or couches with space underneath, shelves, or stairs), a surface conducive to good traction, and enough space to run around wildly. Cats like to have a variety of options to “stalk their prey.” This might be from underneath a bookshelf or from on the back of a chair. Making sure that their environment gives them as many opportunities for activity is important.
You’ll also want to consider the healthiness of your cat’s environment. Making sure that her litterbox is cleaned daily, the space is cleared of any toxins, and that fresh air is provided as often as possible will create an ideal environment for your precious cat.
Toxins to keep your cat clear of can include some plants, fragrances (both natural and artificial), and secondhand smoke. Make sure any houseplants that are placed somewhere your cat can get to them are safe for them to be around, and possibly eat. Avoid fragrances that include essential oils like wintergreen, clove, tea tree, cinnamon, Ylang Ylang, pine, citrus, or eucalyptus, as they are toxic to cats.
Providing your cat with fresh air can be a tricky one. If you live somewhere with a mild climate and a large yard space, you may be able to let your cat outside for a few hours per day or keep some of your cat’s favorite windows open. However, not all of us are so lucky. This means that many cats are trapped indoors with a severe lack of fresh, outdoor air.
CritterZone Air Naturalizers mimic the outdoor air by energizing indoor air in the same way the sun and wind energize the air outdoors. By doing so, your indoor air will not only smell better without the use of any fragrances, but it will also be healthier for you and your pets! Check out how the technology works here.