It’s pretty easy to get your dog to go along with a New Year’s resolution for more exercise. Cats can be more of a challenge. That’s because they’re a little too much like us when it comes to getting motivated. We’ve all seen the proverbial fat cats before. Maybe we even own one. And, just like our health is affected by our lifestyle and diet, so is a kitty’s. [photos via flickr]
There are many games and exercises you can use to motivate your cat to be active, but it’s important to note that not all cats are created equal. You might have noticed that cats have varied and strong personalities. That means that there’s no formula for what will work and what won’t. However, with a little trial and error and the investment of a little time, you and your cat will find things you can do together or that you can do to motivate her to exercise on her own. Here are some ideas you can work with and tweak a little bit to fit your cat’s interests and personality.
Try Some Toys
For a cat to be active, it needs something to do. Some cats like toys that swing, others like toys that squeak when pounced. Some like toys they can bat around and chase. If you know your cat well it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out what will click with her personality.
This doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. Our cats can get hours or even days of exercise out of a cardboard toilet paper tube, for example. Small rubber balls, golf balls and ping-pong balls can also keep them occupied for long stretches.
Have Floor Time with Your Cat
This is a win-win situation because both you and the cat will have a good time, you’ll laugh and you’ll lower your stress level.
The traditional little yarn balls–or perhaps bits of cloth pulled by a string–will stimulate your cat’s sense of motion and put her in hunt mode. A flashlight or laser pointer can also stimulate your cat’s urge to hunt and pounce. Anything that moves across surfaces that she can see, she will likely want to hunt.
Offer a Treat
One thing that works really well with our cats involves cat treats and a whiffle ball. Take a few small treats and place them inside the ball. Let your cat see the ball and the treats then let her bat the ball around the floor until the treats shake free. It is important, however, not to frustrate the cat. The treats should release easily with a few good swats.
You can also infuse toys with a little catnip, but use it with discretion. You might wind up with a cat that will ONLY respond to catnip or one that is too over-stimulated to want to play.
No matter what method you discover works best, the result will be a happier, more energetic kitty. Keep her surrounded with things that will engage her, spend time with her and even offer her a little bribe now and then and you will instill her with good, healthy habits.