House cats, even after years of domestication, can still get bored and eat anything in their path, these steps will stop your cat gaining weight.
Cats have been living in our homes for hundreds of years but, like with most animals, their brains are still wired for the big wild natural world where they would have to hunt for their next meal, nowadays cats will still hunt (if they’re lucky enough to live in the countryside) but for most, their meal comes out of a can and they spend the rest of the day living their luxurious dream.
Of course, all owners want the best for their cats, and everybody loves treating the adorable creatures but as a result of this lack of hunting or the wild crazy adventures, house cats are increasingly becoming bored, lazy and fat. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention even stated that 58 percent of cats in America are overweight or obese meaning the majority of house cats are at serious risk of illnesses related to obesity. Illnesses such as diabetes Mellitus and liver disease can develop in overweight cats and can cause serious and even fatal complications for them.
Researchers have suggested that food puzzles (like the ones you see being used at zoos) can provide entertainment for hours. These puzzles will not release any food without the cat’s persistence and puzzle solving skills and there are tonnes of puzzles on the market for you and your cat to choose your favourite from. Some of them even force your cat to have a little bit of a workout before they can have the food which will also benefit them greatly. Don’t threat if you are on a budget, you can make your own food puzzles easily by poking holes in bottles, we even have our own post which explains how to create an easy treat dispenser at home here.
Animal behaviourists produced a report in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, which talks about the benefits of food puzzles for felines, they found that food puzzles reduced the aggression felt by 85% of sheltered cats and there were other health or behaviour benefits including weight loss, reduced anxiety, reduced fear and they even helped with litter box training.
The report did state that cats may return to their damaging cycle when they get used to the puzzle and thus, become bored again. You can maintain their interest in the food puzzles by trying a range of different ones or changing the location, increase the difficulty (maybe fewer holes or an opaque bottle for example) or even pinata style food puzzles which require the cat to reach up to get them. You can read the journal here for more information.
Food puzzles are only one part of a bigger plan for overweight cats and owners with obese or overweight cats should also consider buying play structures which require cats to move around more as mental stimulation and physical exercise are required to keep your kitty fit and healthy.