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It’s no wonder many of our cats are overweight these days. Cats tend to be bored most of the day, sitting around your home with easy access to food. According to Dr. Sophia Yin, veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist, you need to increase your pet’s mental stimulation and physical exercise to help your pet lose weight.
One of the easiest ways to get your cat to drop pounds is to make a game out of eating. Yin recommends using a food toy that slowly dispenses food. “Some people think this is mean, but cats are hardwired to enjoy searching for their food,” says Yin. “In the wild, they may spend four to eight hours hunting with very few catches. By dumping their food in a bowl, we take away a huge element of enrichment and exercise.”
Another way to make sure your cat gets exercise is by building a shelf pathway to climb on. “This encourages cats to move more around the house,” says Yin. “You can even make a sisal climbing post that goes from the ground up to a high shelf so they have to practice climbing. Better yet, put portions of their meal on these various shelves so that they have to climb and search for their food.”
Cats can also get a great deal of exercise just from playing with toys for 10 minutes a day. Some cats like to swat at feathers on the end of a stick, while others like to bat paper balls around. Yin suggests starting a kitten with an array of toys to cultivate its interest so it continues to play and exercise as it grows older. For adult cats, she recommends that you play with the cat as often as possible for weight loss.
Stacey Brecher is a freelance writer. She has contributed to Animal Fair magazine, and her blogs have previously appeared on The Dog Daily.