How To Get A Fat Cat To Exercise

How To Get A Fat Cat To Exercise

Pet obesity is an increasing concern among vets and is linked to health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, liver disease and heart disease.

Cats notoriously will sleep most hours of the day, this is natural! However, how can we motivate our furry friends to move more in their more active hours of the day?

How do you know your cat is overweight?

Firstly, let's find out without a scale if your cat is on the heavier side. Ideally, a healthy cats fat coverage should allow you to feel their ribs with a gentle touch and you should be able to visibly see their waist from above and a slight abdominal tuck from the side. Prevention is always better than a cure, so try an avoid overfeeding which contributes to weight gain. A common mistake is feeding directly inline with the cat food labels which are generally quite broad. You should firstly consult your vet for an assessment before any change to your cats eating or exercise routine. However, this diagram below also can show an ideal cat's body as a general comparison.

Image via https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/obesity-in-cats

Your vet will provide an estimated ideal body weight to use as a target, but it is important that they also do regular body condition assessments to ensure progress is being made toward normal body weight and body condition.

Once your cat has had an assessment with your vet and discussed the appropriate course of action, it is important to adjust meal times specifically for weight loss – using a specific diet, portion control, and meal frequency. It is not appropriate to simply reduce the amount of their current food intake. This will cause malnourishment over time.

It is appropriate and important to feed a nutritional product that has lower overall calorie density, yet maintains an appropriate nutrient balance. Your veterinarian can help you determine which nutritional products are best for your cat. Cats lose weight with a combined approach via diet and exercise and its the owners responsibility to help their side of the bargain. 

How to exercise your cat for weight loss

There are a number of ways to encourage exercise for the more slumber cat. Cats are independent and don't often like to be told what to do! Their likes and dislikes vary, so you will likely need to try many methods of encouraging exercise in order to find something that suits your cat.

Here are some suggestions:

Use cat toys to recreate hunting behaviours. Cats are naturally predatory animals. Although it may be hard to imagine your fluff ball hunting small wildlife, most cats do retain some hunting instinct. You can use this to your advantage by finding toys that encourage hunting behaviours in your cat.

  • Use a laser pointer to simulate a small bug running across the floor and see if your cat will chase it.
  • Slide small mouse-shaped toys across your floor and encourage your cat to play and catch them, or purchased motorised mice that are designed to move in a realistic manner.
  • Many cats like wand-style toys, which allow you to pull a feather toy through the air or across the ground to simulate a prey animal.

Allowing your cat to chase and play with these toys is an excellent way to get them moving and burning calories.

Create an agility course for your cat. Use various household items to create a small obstacle course in your home, then use a highly desirable toy or treat to lure your cat over, under, and through various obstacles in order to promote activity. A great toy to introduce is a tunnel as cat's like to zoom through!

Purchase a cat tree to promote climbing. Most cats love cat trees and will eagerly climb to the highest resting spot in order to have a good vantage point in their home. As your cat climbs, she will be getting exercise and burning calories.

If your cat is hesitant, place several small treats on each level of the cat tree. This will encourage her to climb and explore and may lead her to start using the cat tree on her own.

Use a harness and leash to allow your cat to explore outdoors. Most cats on a leash will spend more time smelling, listening, and watching. Still, taking a cat outdoors on a leash encourages physical activity and will provide a calorie-burning benefit.

For a harness suggestion, we recommend the Catventure Escape Proof Harness

Make mealtime a more active event. An overweight cat will be extremely motivated by food. Instead of placing your cat’s food bowl on the floor, place it on an elevated surface (such as your washer or dryer). This ensures that your cat has to jump up each time that it wishes to eat, encouraging physical activity.

While some cats may not be receptive to all of the above suggestions, trying each idea may help you find several ways that you can promote activity in your cats. Any increased exercise will lead to increased calorie expenditure, promoting weight loss in your cat.

In idea for weight reduction is to seperate the amount of food into two small meals at different times of the day. Feeding your cat this way will encourage smaller portion sizes and greater satiation throughout the day. This also decreases the risk of diabetes.

 Best cat food for overweight cats

The type of food cats need are high in animal protein and moisture, with low to no grain or starch content (which is pretty much the opposite of what dry foods offer, especially grain-free kibble). Try avoid cat foods which have potatoes, corn, rice, soy and tapioca when trying to help them in losing weight. Wet foods generally have more quality content in them. Cats are carnivores, substitute these foods for raw meats such as kangaroo.

How much food should I feed my overweight cat?

Every cat is different so you should consult with your vet on this subject to get a specific plan which achieves the appropriate nutrient balance.

 

Information has been sourced from the following references:

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/exercising-your-cat-for-weight-loss

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/obesity-in-cats

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/shortcuts/2019/nov/13/fat-cats-how-to-get-a-lazy-obese-feline-into-perfect-shape