Many cats of all ages struggle with obesity. Unlike their wild cousins who spend most of their time hunting or being hunted, house cats spend most of their time either napping or eating. This sedentary lifestyle has made obesity in cats a significant issue which can lead to problems like diabetes and a shortened life span.
In the spirit of the holidays, I have put together a list of affordable kitty gifts that are highly recommended by the cats of Healing Hearts Animal Rescue in Nashville, TN. Our cats are extremely active despite ranging in age from 1 year to 12 years old. This is a list of some of their favorite ways to keep in shape.
Stretching and Scratching
The Ultimate Scratching Post lives up to its name. Weighing a hefty 16 lbs with most of the weight centered in the heavy wooden base, this is one scratching post that will not topple over, even with active, aggressive scratching by larger cats. Standing 32 inches tall, even large breed cats can stretch up tall to scratch to their heart’s content.
The Ultimate post is covered with tough sisal fabric rather than carpet or rope, which lasts much longer even with frequent use. An added benefit is that the Ultimate post greatly reduces your cat’s tendency to scratch on the furniture because the sisal fabric is much mores satisfying to scratch on and has a similar feel to sofa fabric. This scratching posts ranges in price from $38-$60 and is only available online.
Laser light toys are one of the most exciting interactive toys for cats, and an easy choice for when you are tired and just want to relax on the couch at the end of a long day. Not all cats find them entertaining, but for the 50% of house cats who are addicted to the laser light, this is a great way to get exercise and have fun. Just make the laser light act like a bug, “fluttering” up a wall, or “walking” along the floor. As your cat pursues it, make the light move faster to make it more challenging. Most pet supply and local discount stores sell laser lights for about $6.
Da Bird is an ingenious variation on the typical wand toy. Da Bird comes with an extra-long and flexible wand, with a pair of heavy-duty feathers attached by a string on a swivel. When flung back and forth gently overhead, this toy makes a whistling sound like a bird and the feathers zip back and forth at amazing speed. Da Bird quickly attracts all of the Healing Hearts cats who love to see who can catch it first by jumping up in the air to grab it. The feathers are strong enough to last through many months of play. It ranges in price from $7-$10.
The Roundey-Ball, as we call it at Healing Hearts, is an old classic that never gets old around our house. For cats who enjoy batting a ball around the house, the lightest tap of a paw sends this ball spinning around in its circular track, which only makes it more exciting to chase. Some cats will stand in the middle of this toy and literally spin themselves around in circles chasing the ball. For owners, this toy saves you from having to dig under furniture to retrieve lost balls. This toy usually costs about $16 at a pet supply store. Some stores may offer the version with the LED ball that flashes when it moves.
Climbing, Scratching, and Creative Play
The CatCraft cat tree is the most affordable cat tower on the market and in the opinion of the Healing Hearts cats, the best cat tower ever invented. This small, narrow cat tower is also an excellent choice for apartments or small spaces because it takes up very little space. Pressure mounted from floor to ceiling, this tower consists of a tall pole covered in catnip-scented gym carpeting. It has four platforms, the bottom one resting on the ground.
This tower comes in a box and is easily assembled with the long screws included inside. Just be careful to assemble it slowly and screw each level tightly to the one below it for maximum stability. The Healing Hearts cats can often be found making flying leaps onto the platforms, climbing up and down the tower, or resting on the various platforms. Their favorite activities, though, are playing king-of-the-tower or grabbing the pole with all four legs and spinning themselves around it in circles.
Even with vigorous play from multiple cats, this tower can last anywhere from four to eight months before it falls apart. For a single cat it could easily last for years. At only $40 from Walmart, replacing the tower once or twice a year is no problem. Our largest cat weighs 15 lbs and this tower supports him easily. Even a typically lethargic cat is likely to be tempted by this catnip-scented climbing wonder.