Exercising Your Cat

Cats are notorious for preferring sleep to exercise. However, regular exercise is important to your cat’s health because it burns calories, reduces appetite, maintains muscle tone, and increases metabolism (the rate at which calories are burned). Here are some ideas to get your cat moving:

  • Leave out tissue paper and empty cardboard boxes and paper bags to inspire play
  • Provide fresh catnip
  • Encourage your cat to chase toys, sticks with attached feathers, balls, or flashlight pointers (never point these at an animal’s or person’s eyes)
  • Provide a cat tree to inspire climbing
  • Provide scratching posts or pads
  • Encourage play with other pets (set up play dates with the pets of friends or relatives; consider adopting another pet)
  • Train your cat to do tricks for low-calorie or small treats (e.g., train your cat to run to you from across the house or climb a cat “tree” when you shake the treat container; reward your cat with just one treat)
  • Provide specially designed activity toys that require your cat to do some work to remove a treat

You can help your cat become more active and stay fit by scheduling regular playtimes. Consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program for your cat.

Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most cats before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis—daily, if he or she will allow it.

Bathing Your Cat

Cats, by nature, are very good groomers. They have pointy structures on the surface of their tongues, called papillae, which are designed to be an essential grooming tool. While they do a good job on their own, there are situations when your cat may need a bath:

  • If your cat comes in contact with a potentially hazardous substance or sticky material
  • If you are allergic and want to keep pet dander to a minimum
  • If you cat goes/or gets outside and comes in contact with dirt or fleas

Even the calmest of cats may become stressed around water. Preparation prior to bath time will assist you in creating a low stress environment for the bathing process. Make sure you have shampoo labeled for feline use and appropriate age, a washcloth for wiping your cat’s face/head, and a soft towel to dry your cat after bathing. Also, wear appropriate clothing to shield your arms from scratching/biting.

It may be beneficial to have another person assist you in restraining your cat during the bath. If you are comfortable doing so, you can trim your cat’s nails the night before bathing to minimize the chance of scratches. If you have a long-haired cat, a good brushing prior to bath time will reduce the amount of loose/matted fur.