by Darlene Arden
Cat Tip #5
Winter is here and with the cold weather, all of us feel more sluggish. We want to hunker down in our warm homes and curl up with a good book, watch television or a rented movie. Take a look at your feline friend. I’ll bet she’s either curled up with you or is napping in another warm spot. And, if you pay attention, she’s probably napping more now than in warmer weather.
Kitty needs the same thing we need: exercise. You can help your cat get more exercise and add some interest to her days and yours if you play together.
You should be playing with your cat every day and making life more interesting but during winter not only is environmental enrichment essential for your cat’s mind but for your feline friend’s body as well.
A number of cats enjoy playing fetch. What they fetch is personal preference. Some are happy with a rolled up piece of paper while others like to fetch a small toy. Many cats are perfectly fine with a pipecleaner toy while others are in danger of swallowing the pipecleaner, leading to an obstruction. This can be lethal. Also, you have to remember to tuck in any sharp edges. Always supervise your cat when introducing a new toy.
An interactive toy provides great exercise. Nearly every cat loves a fishing pole toy. Find out how your cat enjoys playing with it. Some cats like to see the toy dangling above them while some prefer the toy dragged across the floor, or “flying” through the air. This is a prey instinct and the toy becomes prey. Don’t frustrate your cat, allow him to catch his prey and then begin the game again. Always put these toys away because your cat can get injured with the string or swallow feathers if allowed to play with the toy unsupervised. When kitty sees you heading for the place where you keep the fishing pole toy she’s going to be very happy and excited. She knows the game is about to begin.
You can hide treats in different places so your kitty has to exercise to get them.. The different levels of the cat tree works quite well.
Some cats like balls, most cats like toy mice and will make up their own games.
The one toy I don’t like is a laser, you can use a flashlight instead. Having had laser eye surgery I have a healthy respect for what a laser can do. Cats move so fast that it’s just about impossible to think that the laser beam won’t accidentally enter the cat’s eye. If you’re going to play a game with a flashlight, be sure your cat sees the beam of light coming from one place and, when the game ends, goes back to that place. The place could be your shoe or a piece of furniture but there should be a clear signal of the game’s beginning and end.
There are many games you can play with your cat that are quiet but more active ones will give your cat important exercise.
You can clicker train your cat to do a variety of tricks, including running an agility course set up in your house. Then, if you and your cat want to take that further, you can enter a cat agility trial. iCAT is devoted to cat agility. You can find the organization online at: http://catagility.com/
Snuggling on a Winter’s day is wonderful but keeping your cat in shape and healthy is also wonderful. And a necessity.
Darlene Arden is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, a member of The International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, The American Association of Human-Animal Bond Veterinarians (even though she is not a veterinarian), a World Canine Freestyle Organization Judge, Referee and Executive Advisory Board Member, as well as a member of the Dog Writer’s Association of America, Inc., and the World Dog Press Association, Cat Writers Association and Boston Authors Club. She is a learning facilitator at Kutztown University’s Canine Training & Management Program. An internationally recognized expert on behavior, training, and the wellness of dogs. She is the author of Rover, Get Off Her Leg!, The Angell Memorial Animal Hospital Book of Wellness and Preventive Care for Dogs, The Irrepressible Toy Dog, and Small Dogs, Big Hearts. You can find her on the web at: http://www.darlenearden.com.
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