According to the AVMA, the life span of an outdoor cat is generally shorter than it’s indoor counterpart. By bringing our cats indoors, we keep them safe from vehicles, we reduce or eliminate their exposure to rabies, feline leukemia, FIV and parasites, and we avoid bite wounds or other injuries from fighting animals.
However, outdoor cats do have one advantage over indoor cats and that is in how much exercise they get. Indoor cats tend to eat too much, be fed inappropriately, and sleep too much, all of which can contribute to obesity. Obese cats are at higher risk for diabetes, joint problems, liver disease, among other problems.
It’s an easy trap to fall into. The stresses of day to day life, combined with pushy cats that just want to be fed or an inappropriate diet, can turn a svelte tabby into a butterball.
The first step towards reaching a healthy weight for your indoor cat is examining his or her diet to make sure you’re feeding the right balance of protein, moisture and carbohydrates.
The second step is to get that couch potato cat moving! Here are five ideas for cat toys that won’t break the bank.
**Ping Pong Balls–A package of a dozen ping pong balls costs about $1.50. These are especially fun to play with if you have hardwood floors. However, be warned that you might want to put them away before bedtime. Cats are active at night, but you might not want to listen to bouncing ping pong balls at 2AM.
**Large Foil Balls–Grab that roll of aluminum foil out of your kitchen and start crumpling it! This inexpensive toy is easily replaced. An added plus is that you can make the ball large enough that it can’t be batted under doors or behind furniture. Just be sure to make sure that the ball is large enough that it can’t be swallowed, and don’t let your cat chew on the foil.
**Laser Pointers–Something about a rapidly moving red dot is irresistible to cats. See how far you can get your cat to jump! This is also a fun way to get your kids involved in exercising the cat.
**Extra-Large Pom Poms–A package of extra-large pom poms is under four dollars at any craft store. These are just as fun as ping pong balls, but quieter. The extra-large size also means they’re safe for small kids. One caveat–some cats like to dunk pom poms in the water bowl, then leave them where their people accidentally step on them, usually barefoot. Squish.
**Large Paper Bags–We have yet to meet a cat that, when presented with an empty box or a large bag, won’t attempt to get in it. Large paper grocery bags are especially fun, because they make a satisfying crinkle when the cat dives into it. Wait until your cat is hidden in the bag, then flick pom poms at the opening for extra laughs.
Give these toys a try, and get that fat cat moving!