Introducing Activity to Companion Cats

So, we’ve suggested some of our preferences with cats: scheduled feedings, water fountains, litter box cleaning, types of litter, and wet food. We’ve also provided guidance on how to calculate and reduce your cat’s caloric intake for weight loss. 

Now, it’s time for the next morsel of information to help your cat. Increase your cat’s activity with food fed in small meals multiple times a day! Tada! We know; an oxymoron….and sounds impractical, unrealistic and impossible with multiple cats. No worries, we’ll get to our suggestions on implementation. 

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the Association of for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) prefer that cats are fed small and multiple meals throughout the day. We, at Hemopet, agree. In fact, cats prefer it, too. 

We get it. You are thinking that this will never work because you have multiple cats. Don’t worry – we’ll get to that. 

We are not doubting that you know your cats best. But, remember, you also don’t know unless you try.

Fundamentally, domestic companion cats still have many of the same predatory instincts that their wild feline counterparts and feral cats have. 

Lying in wait, pouncing at the most opportune moment, the lion catches its prey. How many times have we all listened to the lovely, hushed British accent, David Attenborough narrating the hunting skills of lions and tigers while stunned by the hunt twinged with sorrow? Then, you feel a bit of resentment because now you are watching the lions sunbathing and grooming, which reminds you of your lounging and stuffed relatives after a Thanksgiving Day feast. All the while, you feel like the hyena putting the remnants away in the river for preservation and safekeeping for a midnight snack. 

“OK, thanks for the reminders of why I have a love/hate relationship with holidays, but what does this have to do with my cat that lies about and has little interest in toys?”

Think about when you introduce a new toy to your cat or they rediscover a toy. They crouch and then pounce. They bat it around a bit and lose interest. 

Think about when catnip is in the toy. They do the same thing if not for a longer period of time. 

How many times has your cat presented you with a dead mouse as a gift? How did they get that mouse? 

You may think this is not much physical activity for a cat, but rather a mental activity. This activity stimulates both. A cat’s physical activity comes from short and dramatic bursts of energy just like the lions.

So, why not introduce food as a motivator to the equation and “prey” on their natural instincts to hunt? Make it a game. 

How to Feed Cats for Activity…

#1. If you have multiple cats, feed them at the same time, but in separate rooms. This prevents the dominant or overweight cat from stealing food from the other one. 

#2. Feed your cats 4-6 small meals per day. Now, this is where you may think this is impossible due to your work schedule. You will need to figure what is best for your household and you may need to adjust your schedule by a few minutes for this to work. You can feed them when you wake up, take a shower, pick up the food, get dressed, feed them again, put on your makeup, pick up the leftovers, feed them when you get home, after your dinner, and a late night snack. That’s five feedings. 

#3. You can try hiding the bowls for them to find the food.

#4. You can use interactive feeders like mazes or tubes with holes. Bear in mind, while we like water fountains and water systems that gauge how much a cat drinks throughout the day, we do not like automatic or self feeders. 

References

Cline, Martha G., et al. “2021 AAHA Nutrition and Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.” AAHA, American Animal Hospital Association, https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2021-aaha-nutrition-and-weight-management-guidelines/home/

“How to Feed a Cat: Addressing Behavioral Needs.” Cat Vets, American Association of Feline Practitioners, 2018, https://catvets.com/public/PDFs/ClientBrochures/How_to_Feed_Client_Brochure.pdf.  

Weight Reduction in Cats. Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, https://petobesityprevention.org/weight-loss-cats

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