Monday, January 11, 2016

3 things your fat kitty wants you to do

Popoki the cat has a list of new year's resolutions for me
January is the month of resolutions. Every year, people all around the world set down an ambitious list of things they would like to do a little better in the coming year. Often, those resolutions have to do with weight and weight loss.

We promise to work out more, move a lot more and watch the pounds melt away. And our dogs can be included in many of those plans. We can hook them to us as we walk, and we can sub healthy veggies for the table snacks we might toss our pets from the table.

But what about cats?

Cats have huge obesity issues, too. In fact, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says some 60 percent of cats are overweight or obese.

And plenty more might be at the right weight, but still at risk for cardiovascular and joint problems because they don't move around very much.

Popoki the cat is resting on the calendar
Popoki definitely falls into this camp. It's only January 11, and she's already done with this whole 2016 thing.

But just because it's a little harder to include cats in a weight-loss, get-healthy new year's plan doesn't mean it's impossible. I have three ideas that might help.

1. Invest in new toys, and use them in new ways. 

Most of us have cat toys a-plenty. Every time I pick up the couch cushions or move a chair away from the wall, I find dozens and dozens of little mouse-shaped balls and round jingly balls. Cats love these things, and a play session can be a great calorie buster. But cats sometimes need a little incentive to play.

Popoki loves to play with her cat toys
Think about it: Cats are hunters. As a result, they like things that are both novel and moving. A toy under the couch or in the middle of the floor fits neither of those requirements.

I pick up Popoki's toys once a week or so, and I give the nip inside a little squeeze (if it's packed with catnip). Ball toys get a brush over, so they smell new. Then, all of these toys go in baskets on my desk, next to the couch and in other spots where I sit. I toss them to Popoki throughout the day.

This is a quick way to prompt her to play, and it doesn't require a lot of investment from me. (And it's pretty entertaining.)

2. Track your own fitness. 

Santa brought me a Fitbit this year, and I've been using it to track my steps each and every day. Popoki isn't fond of it, clearly, but I can use it to help her.
Popoki the cat glares at my Fitbit
"What IS this thing?"
Curious cats like Popoki follow their people from room to room. When I get up to check out something new, she comes with me. And when I settle down and sit for a long period of time, she does, too. If my overall step count is low, it means that I've probably been sitting in the house for hours on end. And Popoki has probably done the same.

When my numbers are low, I look for active things to do in the house. I clean out a closet, sweep the floor, walk up and down the stairs a few times or just move around. When I do that, Popoki does the same.

3. Work with a veterinarian. 

There are all sorts of websites and books full of information about how to help your cat to lose weight and move more. But a visit to the vet is always a smart idea when weight loss is in the works. Very serious cases of obesity can transform into life-threatening cat complications, if you go too fast. And transforming a sedentary cat into an exercise maven overnight can be hard on the joints. Before you start, get good advice.

Are you including your cat in your resolutions this year? Tell me how you're doing it with a note in the comments! Love to hear from you.


  1. Popoki doesn't look too thrilled with these plans. It cracked me up ...because I often have the same look on my face when I think about exercise!

    My resolution for the cats is that improve my cat photography skills. I hope the kitties resolutions involve being more cooperative with me when I try to take their pictures. We will see if either side succeeds!

    1. That's a great resolution (although, I must say, I think your photography skills are pretty admirable right now!).