Obesity affects up to 80% of our cats. Obesity can cause cats to be more prone to urinary tract disease, arthritis, diabetes, and asthma. Domesticated cats burn far less calories than their wild, hunting counterparts. With the need for survival hunting reduced, cats spend far more time sleeping and often have a lot of pent up energy. In addition, our domestic cats are much more likely to gorge on food as well. Diet and exercise and the type of food are critical factors in feline obesity.
Cats need enrichment in their lives and environment to help keep them active, busy and out of trouble. Enrichment can take several forms. Many cat owners play with their cats using cat toys or a laser pointer dot to keep them active. After taunting him or her with that feather toy , i-pad game, or laser dot, be sure that you give them something to take their frustrations out on so that they don’t take it out on you or end up anxious with pent up energy. A catnip stuffed toy, some honeysuckle, or a treat will work well.
By simulating hunting and feeding behavior, your cat will be motivated to be more active and reduce the likelihood of gorging on food. Cats that have to play hunt or work for their food are more likely to notice the signals that the brain is sending to tell them ‘I am full’ and stop eating. Low cost cat Play-n-Treat Balls or Kong™ toys can be filled with dry kibble and placed in a 5cm deep casserole or cake dish. The cat is rewarded by gradually receiving kibble for batting the ball around the dish. Many cats will stop playing long before the ball is empty of kibble. A much more complex version of a cat food puzzle toy is the Pipellino™ which holds more than an entire meal for kitty and has adjustable degrees of difficulty. The Pipellino™ works well in multiple cat households. Other options for cat food puzzle toys include ‘Spin a Treat’ and homemade boxes with holes in them. Another alternative to stimulate hunting behavior and activity can be to hide food in small piles around the house for your kitty to find.
By keeping your kitty more active, stimulating hunting behavior, and reducing the likelihood of them gorging on food, you can maintain a healthier, fit kitty.