Keeping pets at a healthy weight can be a real challenge for loving pet owners as those big eyes gaze at you beseechingly whenever there's food in the offing - yours or theirs! But as those vastly overweight pets we see on TV programmes show, it is vitally important to maintain a healthy cat through diet and exercise. Here are our tips on how to do just that.
As our five are indoor cats, well with a balcony, but not heading off into the great outdoors on their own, we are very conscious of making sure they eat well but also maintain a healthy weight, and that they get lots of exercise too. Luckily the girls love playing with them, so the cats get lots of activity, not to mention chasing each other round and doing some very cool and dramatic free jumping moves from doors, bookcases, wardrobes etc. Want to see a cat run up the curtains, scramble along the curtain pole, leap 10 feet to the back of the sofa, throw herself vertically to the top of a door then traverse an entire room to the next door, without dropping or stopping? Come to our house on an average day! That's our Jess.
Whether your cat is a free runner or not, here's what you can do to keep them fit and healthy:
- Have a collection of cat toys, including ping pong balls to chase; cat nip mice to pounce on; and long tails on string type toys for you to play with them together. (N.B. For safety, keep the latter in a drawer when not being used.)
- If you are out during the day, leave lots of 'prey' lying around for the cats to play with, and hide some in fun places, e.g. in shoes, under long curtains, etc. A few regular biscuits left beside them can help the cat to seek out the 'dead body' and acts as a reward too.
- Keep anything that interests your cat but may be bad for them well out of reach, preferably locked away. Check your garden and house plants on the toxins list, and don't have cut lilies as they are highly poisonous to cats. We also have to keep our loo roll in a box as otherwsie Jess shreds it!
- If you use a litter tray, change it regularly and keep it meticulously clean. Cats are very clean creatures so remove the stools at least once a day too.
- Follow the pet food manufacturers guidelines on how much and how often to feed your cat, but keep an eye on their body size too. They should go in at the 'waist' (behind the ribs) and not have a stomach that hangs down. Here's more information about pet weight management.
- Check your cat weekly for any lumps and bumps or scratches, and if they go outside, for fleas and ticks too.
- Remember cats aren't necessarily the lonesome creatures they're portrayed to be, so give them plenty of attention and affection, play with them, and make sure they are comfortable in the home too. Consider keeping at least two cats as company for one another, two girls or a girl and a boy is usually a safer bet than two boys.
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