New Year, New You: Helping Your Cat Stay Active
Okay so we don’t frequently set New Year’s resolutions for our cats, but if you have a tubby feline at home then it might be a good place to start. Overweight cats are at risk for diabetes, additional strain on joints, and other diseases. Make the resolution to get healthy by helping your cat kick the weight and stay active.
Never start any weight loss plan for your cat without talking to your vet. They can help you determine the best plan for your cat to safely lose the weight and keep it off. To start, your cat will need a physical examination to access their body condition score, general health, and weight. It’s important to take into consideration any other diseases your cat has that might affect their weight loss plan like intestinal bowel disease, diabetes, or food allergies.
Once your vet determines your weight loss plan, you’ll need to monitor your cat’s weight either at home or by stopping in your vet’s office. Cats that lose weight too quickly can be at risk for fatty liver disease, which is potentially fatal.
One of the simplest changes you can make in your cat’s life is switching from dry food to wet food. While it may not be the right choice for every cat, it can certainly cut calories and help with hydration. Dry kibble, even when you follow the directions on the bag, can be very easy to over feed. Not ever cat has the same caloric or energy needs. A 5-year-old 10-pound indoor cat does not have the same caloric needs as a 5-year-old 10-pound outdoor cat but the instructions on the bag treat them the same.
Another simple change is adding play and enrichment to your cat’s day. Think of it as a time not only to improve your cat’s health, but to strengthen your bond as well. Make it a part of your daily routine so you’re more likely to make it a habit – try doing it while you have your morning coffee or right before bed. Use different wand toys, laser pointer, treat or food balls – anything to help keep your cat moving and engaged. Make movements with wand toys that resemble a bug or other prey to entice your cat even more – have fun with it!
And finally, watch the treats – those calories count! When you do give treats, try putting them in a puzzle toy, food ball, or hide them around your house. Not only does it get your cat moving, but it helps engage their hunting instincts and keep them mentally stimulated.