From Flabby to Fab - making the most of mealtime
In my house, the most energy my cats expend is when they are running to their food at mealtime. This enthusiasm for food provides the perfect opportunity for energy expenditure and mental stimulation. As most indoor cats tend to be sedentary, using feeding balls, mazes or puzzles not only provide physical exercise but provides mental stimulation an often overlooked component of a healthy cat.
Bowls: Traditional bowls on their own don't provide physical exercise during mealtime but when combined with the enthusiasm for meals, bowls can be used to increase your cat's exercise.
Move the bowl! If the bowl is on the floor, raise it off the ground onto a table or counter. This should not be done for obese cats as they can injure themselves unable to jump up or when they jump down from a height. If the bowl is normally in the kitchen, move it up or down a floor. If you are in an apartment, move the bowl to different areas. The idea is to have your cat "hunt" for their food. For a cat that is used to the bowl in the same place, it may take some time for them to get into the hunting game and you may have to show them initially where the bowl is but once they are used to the concept, they will look forward to going on a "hunt".
Feeders: There are a number of different food dispensers on the market that require interaction by a cat in order to get the food. I have a few types that I have used and recommended and that's what I'm going to discuss but there are many other options.
Catit has a multitude of different products from food dispensers, water fountains and interactive toys.
These are just two they have available:
This food tree encourages physical activity requiring your cat to paw out the kibble and as it's interactive, it mentally stimulates your cat as well. This tree has three levels of difficulty and different sized holes to allow for different sized kibble or treats.
This puzzle feeder has two different inserts with holes on the side through which your cat can paw out their food. I used this one a number of years ago with an overweight foster cat and really liked it.
Catit has other feeders available : https://www.catit.com/
One of my favourite food dispensers is from Doc & Phoebes and this system really brings out the hunter in even the most sedentary cat. This system comes with three mouse food dispensers that are placed in different areas for your cat to hunt. Once they have found the mouse, they will need to interact with it to get the kibble out. This is a great way to deliver all meals but I really this method to deliver meals when you are out of the house. Doc & Phoebes also has a mouse for wet food.
Please check out their website: https://docandphoebe.com/
Treat balls: There are many different treat balls available but they all work the same. Kibble is placed in the ball and your cat has to bat the ball around to get the kibble out.
Anything we can do to encourage our cats to engage with active eating will help increase energy expenditure and when this is combined with the appropriate amount of daily calories, weight loss is not only possible but maintaining weight loss is achievable