​Back to School: Keeping Kitty Active

Posted by Melissa for PetTest on Aug 20th 2020

​Back to School: Keeping Kitty Active

Whether it is your kids, grandkids, or other young relative, it is school time. Even if you or one of your young relatives is able to do online school, there is less time for Kitty. Some cats prefer to have playtime with their designated servants rather than by themselves, and when the kids go off to college or school or whatever, they can sometimes poof out like little balloons if we don’t make adjustments to Kitty’s routine along with our own. I made this mistake myself. My daughter went away to college her first year, and my Zeus preferred, at the time, to hang out with my daughter during the day. She is a relentless attention giver and spoils them all rotten (just like her mother), so I really did not have to do much where he was concerned. I would never ignore him, but he spent his daytime with my daughter and the evenings and night with my husband. I did not realize how much physical exercise my daughter was giving Zeus. Within a few months my sleek, long-bodied cat was starting to resemble the shape of a Macys Thanksgiving Parade balloon. He did not become obese or anything extreme like that, he was just round in face and belly with normal-sized legs. Here is the thing, I did not notice right away. My routine did not change much when my girl went to college, but Zeus’s did. He had a lot less playtime and activity. He slept a lot more because his day person was no longer available. To keep him at a healthy weight, I should have stepped in to fill the void. I didn’t even think about it because he is the one cat that has never had weight problems or any qualms about demanding attention from anyone he deems available (or makes available with those sabers he has for claws)!

We have to keep an eye out if we have kids in our lives that visit or entertain Kitty. Even if the kids are doing online school, Kitty is going to have less time with their school/college-aged attention pool. To prevent health changes, we have to do what we can to keep Kitty active as possible to prevent our sugar kitties from developing complications, and rapid weight gain can really throw a wrench into the blood glucose control plan. If someone is at home most of the time, that person can take over and have mini play sessions throughout the day and provide catnip or healthy treats for incentive if need be. Some cats very much prefer to have someone to play with them rather than chasing a mouse around on their own. Also, consider their perspective: Their playmate packed up their stuff and just disappeared. This does not make sense, and can trigger Kitty to be depressed and much less active. This is the time to have new toys on hand to excite and stimulate them. Fresh catnip is always a great incentive if Kitty is into that. Even if we keep Kitty’s activity level up, it is vital to pay attention to changes in their blood glucose levels. We know that stress can bring about changes, but a depressed Kitty can have the same problems. Depression is a stressor too.

We were able to drag Zeus back into a healthy weight by slightly changing his diet and giving him zero chance to lie around: Kittens. Yes, we adopted two kittens. We were hoping a kitten would take to my daughter as she had a hard time being away for school, and was struggling with some things which worked splendidly. As well, it turns out the other kitten did not choose any person for “her” person. She chose Zeus. Zeus was followed, stalked, chased and is still constantly accompanied by Miss Friday at all times. The poor cat had no choice but to lose weight from trying to get away from his new super fan. Is this my recommended go-to solution? Of course not; however, I have noticed that having younger AND older cats at the same time, extends the life of the older ones generally as they are more active, and the kittens have built-in teachers. (Zeus has taught them all of his little tricks, and he is back to being his sleek, long-bodied self, even if that came from outrunning a very rambunctious kitten.)

If you are not able to be running around chasing your cat for playtime, and you are not the cat lady who says, “Hey, we will get kittens,” there are many toy options for you too! Remote controlled mice (or even little cars) have always been a hit in our house. It makes noise, and it moves. (If you really don’t want to go fetch the one they flipped over by the wall, spend the extra few bucks and get one that will flip itself back over (look for the larger wheels). There are many toys that you can set down on the floor and turn on such as mice and snakes and all kinds of different stuff. Some roll fast, some wiggle around, and some just go flying across the floor. Again, noise and movement will bring out Kitty’s inner hunter/huntress, and there are a ton of options based on your available activity level, and what Kitty generally likes. There is a reason that pet stores have the giant selection of toys in each department. If you are on a budget, you can even make toys. Feathers and non-wired ribbon are both plentiful at any craft store. I have used quilting fabric to make mini catnip pillows which slide across the floor really well (a big hit with all the kitties). These are quick to make even if you sew them by hand, and CHEAP. You cat does not care what color. Get the clearance quilt fabric, or even better, visit the fabric remnant section. Even a small remnant will make several kitty toys. Rotating toy types will also help. We have a designated toy drawer to put the toys Kitty seems to be losing interest in, and we swap it for another they haven’t used in a while. They see this as new and exciting. The trick is to put the toy away just as they are starting to get bored with it. My sister has a designated half a room, so I still think I am semi-reasonable. (Sorry, Sherry