“Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets,” states APOP’s founder Dr. Ernie Ward. “We continue to see an escalation in the number of overweight cats and an explosion in the number of type 2 diabetes cases.”
Obesity can lead to many other health problems including arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and diseases of various organs.
Diet plays a big role in keeping kitty at an ideal weight. Equally important in managing a cat's weight is daily exercise. For cats living indoors, this means playtime.
There are many benefits from playtime, especially interactive playtime with you or another pet in the home.
- Physically: Playtime provides exercise. This helps keep muscles in shape, aids in circulation, keeps bones healthy, joints lubricated and more.
- Mentally: Playtime allows cats to use their hunting instincts (after all, they are natural born killers). In addition, many behavioral and aggression issues can be avoided or remedied redirecting energy into play.
- Emotionally: Interactive playtime is a wonderful bonding experience for cats and their people or their feline/canine siblings.
Simply playing with your cat for ten minutes, once or twice a day, is all it takes.
Some cats are excited to play; others need motivation. Matching toys and playtime with your cat's personality will make it a fun experience for all.
This type of cat is ready to play. He is merely looking for the right thing to chase, leap after and pounce on. Using a wand toy is a great way to make the game fun. Since prey doesn't come to a predator, do not wave the toy in the cat's face. Rather pull it around objects and corners. Make it fly at a height that is attainable for your cat. The Hunter also loves to seek and find prey. Hiding toys around the house that he can find will make him quite happy. When he returns the 'kill' to you, reward him with a low calorie treat. In a multi-cat house, two hunters will make their own game and often take turns being predator and prey.
The Self Starter
This is a can-do kind of cat. While she enjoys interactive play, she is also perfectly fine on her own. She'll chase just about anything - balls, toy mice, catnip toys, you name it. Be sure to rotate toys in and out of circulation every couple of weeks so that everything seems new and inviting. She will also take the lead and bring her toys to you to get the ball rolling (no pun intended) for interactive playtime.
The Lazy Ass
When you try to initiate play, he sort of looks at you like, "are you flipping serious? That is not a real mouse/bird/lizard." Finding the right motivation is critical with a cat like this. I'm not saying this is easy. First, see what makes his eyes dilate. Is it a moving string? A catnip stuffed cigar? A laser? There is truly something for every cat out there. Establish the time of day that he is particularly frisky - or at least seems to move more. If all else fails, get him moving with a game of hide and seek. This is especially helpful in getting older cats to move around. Or use a treat to entice your lazy ass kitty to climb a cat tree/condo or move through a homemade obstacle course. The Lazy Ass can often be harness trained. A jaunt outside may be just the thing to get this bundle of love moving.
This is the type that gets so-called 'dog people' excited about cats. An athletic cat will happily play fetch. She enjoys a game of baseball, where you throw the toy and she bats it back at you (or makes you run around to retrieve it). She will leap after toys and show off her skills by adding a twist or back flip while airborne. This cat also appears to fly down a flight of stairs without ever touching the ground.
Since cats have a natural pattern of hunt, kill, eat, groom, sleep, repeat, it is a good idea to play before mealtime. That way they associate their meal with their kill. For really active cats, a few minutes of play before bedtime can calm him or her down so you can sleep, too.
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