With many cat owners out at work all day, and more and more cats spending most if not all of their time indoors, ensuring your cat gets the mental and physical stimulation it needs to keep fit and healthy is vital.
Cats can live to their mid-to-late teens or even early twenties and many owners may not realise that cats can actually get a feline version of Alzheimer’s disease, so it is really important to keep their brains active.
Just like our dogs, it’s equally as important to keep their weight within a healthy range through a good diet and adequate exercise so that they don’t suffer from the various health side-effects that being overweight or obese can have on a pet.
The old saying “use it or lose it” also applies to cats, so here are some simple tips for keeping your feline mentally and physically fit.
Cats thrive on routine, and building play into everyday life is important. If spending money on lots of cat toys is not an option, there is no excuse because cats are really easy to please.
Simple cat toys can easily be created at home with simple wads of paper wrapped into balls to be thrown about.
Most cats love a herb called Catnip, which they love to sniff, lick or chew, some even love rolling around against it which is why it is often stuffed inside toys. To make your own version at home you can simply fill a sock full of it and sew or tie up the ends.
Play time with your cat could also be as simple as dragging a ribbon across the floor for your cat to chase. Yes, it really can be that simple.
Adding some movement into their daily activities
Overweight cats like to avoid physical exertion, so to encourage exercise and problem solving placing food bowls at the top of stairs or cat trees, or make little treasure hunts out of meals by hiding saucers around is a good way to get them moving.
This is a good thing to do for your cat left alone all day as well regardless of their weight.
Extra mental & physical stimulation
Treat dispensing or problem solving toys or puzzles that dispense treats mimic the feline hunting behaviours, like they do for our dogs, so you can leave them with your cat whilst out at work all day to help keep them entertained and mentally sharp. Your local pet store will have a variety of options for you to choose from.
Indoor cats still like to see what’s going on in the world around them so why not place a bird feeder or bird bath outside windows for your cat’s viewing pleasure and brain stimulation. You could also teach your indoor cat to walk on a leash, so she can safely explore the yard with you.
Cats can also be trained to sit, high five and do other tricks just like our pooches so keep them thinking and moving each day by doing some fun training exercises with them.
Too often we forget that our cats need play and exercise as much as our dogs so spending just a little time each day can make a big difference to their health and happiness.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.