Everybody knows a fat cat or two. You might even have one yourself.
An overweight, inactive cat is not a rare cat.
It’s also not a healthy cat.
You can control the diet side of your cat’s weight loss or weight maintenance program, but getting him to move around more definitely proves a much greater challenge. If a cat doesn’t want to walk, run, or do anything remotely resembling exercise, well, they’re just not going to do it. Weight loss in cats, then, is considerably more challenging than with dogs (to put it mildly).
You simply can’t, and should not, force a cat to be physically active. What you can do, however, is encourage physical activity. And the best way to do that is with enticing objects and environmental enrichment that encourages curiosity and investigation. With enough effort, even the most sedentary and lazy cats won’t be able to help themselves.
What makes a good cat exercise toy or equipment? Anything that gets them moving!
Whether it’s increased activity at ground level on the floor, or encouraging your cat to jump and climb – every movement burns calories. Where you start and what sort of play you focus on will depend on your cat’s current weight, their age, any health conditions like arthritis, and how capable they currently are when it comes to movement.
Very overweight or obese cats can benefit hugely from starting slow, then gradually moving on to more challenging activities that encourage more strenuous physical activity.
All of this, of course, needs to be accompanied by a good weight-loss supporting diet.
Chasing and climbing are two areas I’ll be focusing on in this guide. Toys and equipment that encourage either or both of these types of physical exertions are going to get a cat burning up calories, while having a heap of fun at the same time. To get the ball rolling, you need to introduce a cat to something they find enticing and irresistible, no matter how lazy they normally are.
Tapping into our cat’s natural hunting instincts is an easy way to get them moving.
Even the laziest, most laid back cat finds it hard to resist a moving object! It starts with the eyes, then that instinct finally kicks in, and they have to get up to swat, chase, catch. Even if it’s just a burst of a few seconds, that’s more calories burned than if he didn’t get up at all!
It can take some time to get their interest to progress from eyeballing, to actually getting up and chasing, but weight loss is all about persistence and variety and these are some of the best toys that can make it happen.
Laser and LED Lights
What could be easier and simpler (and cleaner) than a light that your cat can chase around?
It makes no mark, weighs nothing, costs very little, and can bring hours of amusement and exercise!
LED and laser lights as a cat toy are really popular now, because they’re low cost and easy to pick up and use any time, anywhere indoors.
There are two main types to consider: the pen LED type which you need to hold and point around yourself.
Then there’s the automatic laser light show that you can “set and forget”.
You don’t have to hang around for your cat to play with these ones, as they operate and move the light (or lights) around automatically.
Interactive lights make great cat toys, for both exercise AND just for fun and games.
The PetSafe interactive laser toy is a great design and has an inbuilt timer that auto switches off the low-level laser after 15 minutes of play. This is to stop a cat from basically getting bored and becoming too used to the toy.
Familiarity breeds boredom, and you’ll want to maintain their interest over time, so like any toy, not over-using it
The humble ball. Good for hours of play for some cats, or just seconds for others. Whatever the case, this is another low cost toy that you can have plenty of on hand as a little extra incentive for your cat to get moving and chasing.
Even more fun if you have 2 or more cats, with each one swatting the ball away and encouraging others to chase.
There’s balls and there’s lights, and then there’s balls with lights!
Being activated by motion, the more your cat hits the ball, the more it lights up.
So it’s tons more fun than regular balls, and no input required from you to get the light show going.
Climbing Equipment for Cats
Most fat cats already have climbing posts; but they probably aren’t using them in the way that’s in line with losing weight. Instead, they scratch and sleep on them and that’s likely it.
Regular cat scratching towers are certainly superb and every cat should have at least one, but in the area of wanting to encourage more physical activity, I want to focus on some of the more unique climbing apparatus available.
Things that will catch a cat’s eye and interest a little more than normal cat climbing towers and as a result (hopefully) lead them to increasing activity as they climb up and down, and play with the extra enticing accessories and extensions.
Cat Activity Centers & Play Mats
Yep, these are modeled one those must-have activity centers for human babies; the ones where they learn their very first coordination and eye focusing skills.
In fact these cat activity centers look almost exactly the same as the human child ones, with some notable cat-friendly features of course. Babies lay on their back to play with this type of activity set, and your cat might as well (which is fun, though not ideal for calorie burning).
But most cats will also not be able to resist to get up and moving if they’ve got one of these in front of them.