Cats are known as one of the most agile species in the animal kingdom. In fact, larger cats like leopards and cheetahs are popular for their speed and agility both in catching prey and dodging predators.
But house cats are quite different. And those that have grown quite domesticated and get spoiled by their owners have a common problem: laziness.
While you might think that a cat that sleeps and eats all day is adorable, this lifestyle is not ideal for their health. Besides rest and a sufficient supply of cat food, these animals also need to get enough physical activity to stay fit as a fiddle.
Pick the Right Toys
When it comes to cats and dogs, the latter are always more active. This is because dogs are not picky when it comes to things they can play with.
With cats, you need to find the perfect toy. Otherwise, you’ll only be wasting money on things that will often be left ignored.
That said, having toys in your home isn’t enough – they should also be the right ones. Observe your cat’s behaviour towards certain toys. If he is oblivious to felt mice but tends to perk up whenever you crumple paper, take it as a sign that he’s more into items that make crinkling sounds.
You may need to do a bit of trial and error for this. Try several types of toys until you find out what he is most interested in playing with.
Join the Fun
When it comes to encouraging cats to get moving, one of the most effective ways is for you to jump in and join him.
While people – even pet parents – are busy with a lot of things, you must still find the time to get involved in your furry friend’s wellness, especially his physical activities. Playtime with toys and games will always be more fun for your pet when you are involved as well.
Some examples of items you can play with him are laser pointers or wand toys. These can help activate your feline friend’s natural instincts for catching prey. Just make sure that you hide them occasionally to urge your pet cat to stalk, hunt, and search for the toys.
Also, remember to offer him a treat after every playtime to give him an incentive and the satisfaction of the “kill” after a successful “hunt.”
While being a pet parent is a responsibility you’re willing to take on, there will be times when you won’t have enough time to join your cat’s daily exercise. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should just let him laze around all day.
If your cat is fond of pouncing on moving targets, you can buy him a couple of battery-operated toys. Some of these have timers that you can set to automate play even when you’re not home.
Just remember that when shopping for pet supplies online and at your local pet store, check or ask about how well the toys can withstand rough play. Also, be sure to monitor the items’ level of wear and tear frequently to ensure your cat’s safety.
Incorporate Play During Mealtimes
If there’s one thing that cats cannot resist, it’s the call of moving prey. Take advantage of this innate characteristic in your feline pal by incorporating play during his mealtime.
One thing you can use for this activity is a food ball. You can fill this hollow ball with several treats and dry cat food and let your feline pal push it around the floor until the food falls out.
It is normal for him to be hesitant at first, but when he starts to notice that the food is coming from inside it, he will surely become more motivated to use the food ball and work for his snacks.
Besides food balls, you can also use food puzzles to keep your cat’s muscles moving – and that includes his brain muscles. These games are excellent for stimulating your pet’s body as well as his mind.
Give Him a Cat Tree or Any Vertical Space He Can Climb
If your pet has already gotten used to sleeping and eating all day, consider changing up the environment to stimulate movement more.
Remember that cats are fond of staying in high places because it gives them a good vantage point for surveying their territory. Since cats love to climb, you can make this work for his well-being by adding scratching posts and vertical spaces.
Some of the features you can add are:
- Cat trees
It is also a good idea to place perches and cat trees near a window to help stimulate him further and let him enjoy all the sounds, sights and smells from outside. Don’t forget to add some toys to encourage him to move around more.
Introduce Someone He Can Play With
Another trick you can try to urge your kitty to move around is to give him someone to play with. Besides automated toys, introducing other live animals, like a new kitten perhaps, could help him become more active.
If you can accommodate a new pet, bring home a younger kitten to help your older cat rekindle his love for play. Older cats tend to respond positively to a new addition provided that the introduction is done correctly.
When bringing home a new pet, remember to avoid forcing a face-to-face immediately. This could potentially cause a long-term issue with their integration or even damage their relationship permanently. Instead, ease the kitten’s presence into the family.
Once both felines are adjusted, your older cat should find it easier to be more active. Since the younger one tends to initiate playtime more naturally, he could effectively coax your first cat to do the same.
Reward Healthy Behaviour
Like other pets, cats also respond well to positive reinforcement. That said, don’t forget to reward him for demonstrating healthy behaviour, especially when it comes to exercising.
You can use food and treats to make him do some moderate exercises like jumping, strolling around your house, or walking up and down the stairs. Utilise everything you have to ensure that your cat gets enough physical activities every day.
Get Your Lazy Cat Moving
Like people, pets also need regular exercise and other physical activities to stay fit and healthy. Consider the tips listed in this article and figure out the best way to get your lazy cat moving.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.