Tips for Exercising An Aging Cat
Just like humans, cats need exercise to remain healthy. And while exercising does get difficult the older your cat gets, it’s still essential (if not even more important) for them to remain active in their senior years.
Exercising an older cat presents a little bit of a problem for some people because they are not going to have as much energy or be capable of as much movement as they once were, which will likely prevent them from getting exercise in the way they have been for most of their life.
Cat towers or trees for climbing, for example, might require too much exertion for a senior cat. If you own one of these, your strategy for keeping them active may have to change.
It can be stressful watching your pet’s body start to deteriorate, so you should familiarize yourself on what to expect. Read on for a few tips on how you can exercise your aging cat:
Get Specific Toys
When it comes to the toys, you should find some that require less energy but still ensure that your cat gets some exercise while playing with them.
Stuffed toys are always a good choice. A cat can smack around a stuffed toy if they’re in a hunting mood, and they’re not as hard on the body as a track toy. Similarly, you could get a peek and play toy box, which is very similar to those whack-a-mole games you find in arcades. Things pop out that your cat will try to grab. This gets them active while also allowing them to stay in the same place and not put too much strain on their joints.
There are also some great toys out there that will help keep a cat’s mind active too, which brings me to my next point:
Don’t Forget Brain Training
Your cat is going to age mentally as well as physically. This is easier to forget about because it’s not as visible of a process. You can watch your cat try and fail to get up to the top of their tower, but you can’t really see them losing their sharpness or sense of their surroundings.
If a cat isn’t reacting as quickly to things or is less coordinated than they once were, they can become anxious and scared. They’re essentially losing track of their senses, which is a frightening thing to deal with.
Unfortunately, some degree of it is inevitable, and you have to deal with that, too (take a look at this article from Dogviously). Cats’ and dogs’ brains are more similar than you might think, and a lot of the methods from the article will work on cats, too.
As far as the brain training itself goes, try to make it enjoyable. Some of the best cat toys out there right now are puzzle-based. They’re designed to hide a treat that gets released when the cat solves a small puzzle. The puzzles are simple, of course, as cats aren’t scientists, but are enough to stimulate the cat’s mind. If the cat does something to stimulate their mind every day, it will definitely help to keep them sharp.
Encourage Light Climbing
Serious climbing might not be an activity that your cat is capable of in their twilight years, but if possible, you should try to get them to do a little bit of it. They don’t have to be climbing towers anymore, but you could introduce some smaller objectives.
For example, try putting their food or water bowl on a low shelf so that they have to climb up if they want to eat. Of course, if it does become impossible for them to make this small jump then you should move their food back to the ground. You don’t want to keep them from eating, rather, just give them a little bit of exercise.
You could also move some furniture around or get some lower furniture. If you have a cat who liked to climb up on the couch but can’t do so anymore, consider getting an ottoman or a small armchair that they can jump on instead. Otherwise, they will probably just resign themselves to staying on the floor, which will cause their agility to decrease even more over time.
If they also like to sleep on your bed with you, make sure that they can still get up. Maybe place a short step next to the bed that they can climb up on to maneuver their way onto the bed. For as long as they are capable of some light climbing, encourage it.
The important thing is to remain positive with your pet. Don’t get down because they’re not as spritely as they used to be and try not to get frustrated when trying to keep them active. They need you now more than ever, and there are plenty of ways to get them up and exercising.