It’s cold and wintry outside – enough to make most cats slope back to the sofa for more snoozing. Here, Kim Sullivan gives five top tips to encourage your feline friend to wake up, get moving and stay fit during the winter months.
Play before meals
Make playtime a regular daily event, but have it before your cat’s meals. A hungry cat is far more likely to be alert and keener to run, jump and scamper, especially when low-calorie treats are an incentive in the game. Always count treats as part of your cat’s daily calorie intake though, to avoid weight gain.
Create a treasure hunt
Who can resist a hide-and-seek treasure hunt? Hide your feline friend’s favourite snacks high and low all round the house, encouraging her to keep on the trail. Or construct a makeshift obstacle course of cardboard boxes that she has to jump up and over and weave her way through to reach the jackpot. You could also clear or build some cheap but sturdy shelves that she can use to climb and jump from.
Hone natural talents
Cats can’t resist the urge to climb, so use the stairs to put her natural leaping skills to good use by encouraging her to run up and down, chasing a ping-pong ball, cork or screwed-up piece of paper that you throw for her.
Drive the hunting instinct
Encourage her natural hunting skills by making her work for her daily food intake. Split it into several portions throughout the day, and put into a cat-feeding ball so she has to play and push it around the room for it to come out and satisfy her hunger.
Keep things fresh
Rotate toys and activities so she doesn’t get bored. Treat her to a new toy, such as an electronic mouse, or perk up her interest in your existing or homemade toys (like feathers on a stick) by spraying them with irresistible catnip spray. Buying or building your own cat tree is also a great idea – the more levels the better, using different textures like wood and a patch of old carpet on some areas so she can enjoy a strenuous scratch and stretch.