Feline Fitness

December 20th, 2014 | By Marjie No Comments

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Have you ever seen a cat out for a run with its owner? Or playing Frisbee with children at the park? Probably not.

But just because we have to play differently with our cats than our dogs doesn’t mean that it is not important to keep them moving. Exercise is needed to maintain a healthy body, and research has shown that overweight cats are much more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes and painful arthritis than cats of normal weight. Also, exercise can help reduce stress (just like it does for people).

Cats present a unique challenge for exercise. They have a notoriously independent spirit, so you have to encourage play on their own terms. Here are some great ideas:

  • Put an empty paper (never plastic!) grocery bag on the floor … many kitties will run from wherever they are to jump in. Cardboard boxes work well too.
  • Probably the favorite toy for interactive play is the “fishing pole” type toy. Cats really enjoy chasing the toy at the end of the string. Don’t just dangle the end limply in front of their face, though. Instead, pretend that it is a mouse or small bird to activate their hunting instinct. Hide the end under furniture and move it in small fits and jumps to act like a prey animal. (Make sure you put the toy away after playtime so your cat doesn’t get caught in the long string when you aren’t around.)
  • A modern twist on the cat toy is a laser pointer. Simply dim the lights a little and watch your cat run, jump, and play. Laser pointers can get kitty moving even when you are feeling lazy and want to stay on the sofa (but we always encourage you to join the activity and fun!). Avoid shining the light in their eyes as this could cause damage.

Whatever form of exercise your cat enjoys, make a routine of it. Cats thrive when given a schedule, and you will be more likely to keep up the fun if you have a set exercise time. Keep yourself and your cat fit, and you’ll enjoy a longer, healthier life together.

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