Do you have a chunky kitty that's worried about sunbathing season? Is there just not enough sunlight to cover the whole kitty? While cats don't have to worry about fitting into a favorite bikini, they do have to worry about being overweight. (Well, their humans do the worrying for them). Meow is the time to get that chunky kitty back into shape! Here are a few ideas to help your cat back on their paws and bikini ready.
Let's Get Vertical, Vertical
Vertical space is a cat’s best friend! Many cats naturally seek height as a source of safety and comfort. But high places can also be a great way to get your cat to exercise. Encourage your cats to climb by hiding their treats, or even their daily food, on a high surface. In lieu of treats, dried catnip or catnip-filled toys are also a great motivator.
If you don't want your kitty jumping on your counters and your bookshelves, a multi-level tree will have many places to climb, play, snack and nap - and it will also give your cat its own "safe space." Encouraging your cat to climb to get their food (or favorite toy) will motivate your them to stretch, climb, and jump, all of which are natural behaviors that keep cats fit in the wild.
If you live in a multi-story home, feeding your cat in a room upstairs will encourage them to get their fluffy butts up and down those stairs in no time at all!
This suggestion will take some work, but it’s worth it. A safe walk outside with you by your cat's side can open up new worlds for your cat without all of the dangers the outside can provide. First, find a harness that fits properly (one that your cat can't easily wriggle out of). There should be at least one fingerwidth of room between the harness and the cat.
Introduce the harness slowly by laying it out near their bed, or rubbing it in catnip to encourage them to sniff, roll on, and even play with the harness - all before even putting it on. From then you can graduate to draping it over their back to acclimate, then, and then let your cat get used to wearing it in the house, without a leash. Once in the harness, try playing with your cat's favorite toy or making them reach for treats to show them that they can freely move around in the harness.
Next, attach the leash, but let them drag it around without controlling them or yanking them (with supervision, of course, so the leash doesn’t get caught on something and injure them).
Next, slowly start using the leash, but casually without exerting too much control. When they are comfortable with you controlling the leash, it’s time to try an exploratory walk, in a backyard or fenced-in area at first. Always consider your cat's safety firstAlways take it very slowly with your cat and never try to drag or pressure them outside if they're scared - after all, you want it to be safe and enjoyable for them, too.
Appeal to Their Hunting Instincts
Cats are predators by nature, and as such have a predator's hunting instincts. Even the laziest, chunkiest cats have this instinct buried somewhere. It's just a matter of finding what activates that inner hunter.
Is your cat food motivated? Stimulate them by hiding treats in areas your cat visits a lot, like around their favorite place to nap or around their beds or scratchers. You can also try tossing the treats across the room for your cat to chase.
Cats are ambush predators, and may prefer toys that make noise or crinkle, which imitates the sound of mice and other small prey running through the undergrowth. A feather toy or catnip kicker toy that crinkles may get them interested.
If you notice your cat likes to chase bugs, a laser pointer is one of the easiest ways to simulate a hunting game. While they can never catch the laser’s light, it’s good to end the play with a real toy so they can have that satisfaction of catching their prey.
If your cat is a keen birdwatcher, they might like a feathered flyer toy. If your cat likes to grab at your arm and bite and kick, encourage them instead with a kicker toy, designed for just this instinct.
Consider the Scent!
Cats rely heavily on scent. If your cats are bored of their more traditional toys, freshen them up by changing their scent! Catnip is a great way to add a bit of stimulation and excitement to your cat's day that can make an old toy feel like new.
Did you know that only about 70% of cats respond to catnip? If you've tried catnip and your cat doesn't react, consider silver vine, a catnip alternative with two cat attractants (whereas catnip has one). Some cats prefer silver vine to catnip, and it has the same effects.
How do you get your fat cat to exercise? Let us know in the comments!
It might be a challenge to get your cat to exercise, especially if they're as lazy as the day is long. But if you spend a bit of time playing with your cat and seeing what they respond to, you’ll find out that playtime with your cat not only gets your cat the exercise they need - but it’s a great way to increase your bond with your kitty at the same time!