Caring for cats in winter: how to keep your cat fit & healthy this winter
For cats that are used to heading outside for a wander or a hunt on a daily basis, the cold winter weather can pose a bit of a problem. Cats love warmth and comfort, so many might choose to stay inside more often to avoid winter’s chill. This means their exercise levels will inevitably drop. This means caring for cats in winter is a little bit more difficult.
Luckily, there are lots of ways you can keep them active inside the house, and it means you get to see a lot more of your feline friends at the same time, which is an added bonus.
Replace cat food treats with special cat toys
It’s nice to give your cat an edible treat every now and again, but some of these highly processed treats can contribute significantly to weight gain if given too often, especially if your cat is getting less exercise than normal. Try replacing with a catnip toy or their favourite ball to maintain the positive reinforcement without the added calories.
Cut down on dry cat food and introduce healthy proteins
Cats are carnivores meaning their digestive system is built to process a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. Try cutting down the amount of dry cat food you give them and swap it out for some healthy proteins such as a cooked chicken breast or cooked fish. Your cats will love the new variety and their waistlines will be much better for it.
Move cats’ food around
Rather than keeping their food in the same place all the time, try moving it upstairs or placing it on a higher surface. This will keep them occupied as they hunt out their meals and will also keep them active as they move up and down the stairs or jump onto surfaces. Bear in mind their abilities and do not put food anywhere they could not easily reach.
Build in some regular playtime with your cat
Cats are creatures of habit, so try making time for around 30 minutes of play per day, and try to keep it at roughly the same time. Play strengthens the bond between you and your cat while also keeping them fit and active.
Any games that will get your cats jumping around are great ones to try. Invest in a bit of vertical cat furniture such as scratching posts and towers, then encourage them to chase their favourite toys up and down the towers for an extra activity boost.
Chasing and hunting games keep their minds active as well as their bodies. Try hiding their favourite toys underneath furniture, especially the scented ones, so they can seek them out. You can also use a remote controlled toy such as a mouse or car to get them chasing and running around.
Introduce a new cat or kitten to the family
This might not always be the right option, so it shouldn’t be a decision you make lightly. Cats are social animals, and a new playmate will certainly keep them more active during the winter months and throughout the year. However, cats can also be very territorial which could cause problems when introducing a new cat. Read our blog about integrating new cats for extra tips on how to go about this.
If your cat is putting a lot of weight on and you’re unsure of what to do, always check with your vet to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical problems.
Have a browse through the rest of our blog for more helpful hints and tips on keeping your pets safe, healthy and happy during the winter months.