You can walk your dog, but how do you keep your cat in good physical shape? A 2011 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention showed that more than 50 percent of felines were overweight. Cat obesity can lead to diabetes, liver disease, and arthritis.

healthy cat

With May being National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, it’s a good reminder to keep all pets in shape—including cats. Here are a few ideas for keeping your cat fit:

End Free-Choice Feeding
It’s easy to pour a heap of dry cat food in a bowl for the cat to graze on as often as it wishes, but but this can lead to weight gain. Try giving your cat 2 to 4 small food servings per day (totaling between .6 to 1.0 oz. per serving for a 7-pound cat).

Choose High Protein, Low-Carb Food
Cats need diets that are higher in protein and fat and lower in carbohydrates. Experts indicate that a healthy cat diet should break down as follows:

  • 35 to 45 percent protein
  • 30 to 40 percent fat
  • Roughly 25 percent carbohydrates

Watch dry cat foods as they can be heavy on carbs and low on proteins.

Facilitate Exercise
Create an active environment with the following:

Climbing Structures
Climbing is one of the things that cats do best. Invest in some fun cat stairs or cat climbing trees. Once your “leaning tower of catza” is born, bedazzle it with dangling balls and bells to capture your cat’s interest. The constant up and down of climbing will help keep them physically active.

Laser Pens
Oh, the fun that can be had with a simple laser pen. Dim the lights, start the laser show, and watch your cat run!

The Old String Trick
It’s old-school, but baiting your cat with a bit of yarn for short stretches each day can get them moving.

Invest in a Pet Pal
If you don’t have one already, consider buying an additional pet for your cat to pal around with. If it’s a good dynamic, the pets may engaging in friendly roughhousing and chasing, ramping up physical activity. Many pet owners say that once you have one pet, adding another isn’t a whole lot more work.

Encouraging your cat’s fitness goes a long way in increasing their longevity and quality of life.