Cat Trees for Heavy Cats

Your slightly overweight kitty needs a little exercise.

Your slightly overweight kitty needs a little exercise.

Jasmine always hangs out under the dinner table, collecting every last crumb. Unfortunately her eating habits have caused her to put on a little extra weight. Even though she's a little on the plump side, she still needs a tree or post to scratch, but you'll need to find one that suits her bigger body.

Trees

While a massive cat tree with perches and dangling feather toys might seem fun for your kitty, she won't be able to get to the top if she's struggling with her weight. Pick out a tree that has ramps that are easy to walk up or even low-lying perches so she doesn't have to jump as high. If she doesn't seem interested in climbing to the next level, start feeding her dinner up there. Surely she'll be hungry enough to get a little exercise while heading up to fetch her meal.

Posts

Scratching posts are another option if a big tree is too bulky for your place. Posts can be simple -- a straight sisal-covered post sticking up from a carpet-covered board. Or a scratching post can be a little more complex with a ramp attached to the post, like a right-angle triangle and then topped off with a small perch. Just like with a multi-level tree, giving her food on top of the perch entices her to get up to the top, working all those muscles in her body.

Special Considerations

Since Jasmine is a little on the hefty side, make sure her scratching tree or post is sturdy enough to support her. If she jumps on the perch or leans up against the post during a nice stretch and it topples over on her, she'll never go near it again. Ensure that your tree has a sturdy base and isn't too top heavy. It shouldn't sway from side to side every time she jumps off of it. If you put out a post for her, it might be helpful to slip one corner underneath the sofa. She'll be able to use all of her body weight to claw, but won't wind up pushing it over.

Importance of Exercise

A weight gain of just 1 pound is a lot of body mass for your feline pal. If her normal weight is 10 pounds, gaining just a pound is a 10 percent increase in weight. This is similar to you gaining 15 pounds if your regular weight is 150 pounds. Your joints would hurt, you'd have less energy and your risk of chronic illnesses goes up. Kitties have the same negative effects. Get her back to her old happy self by encouraging exercise. Sprinkle a pinch of catnip along the ramp of her new tree. She'll want to climb up to the top while playing. Make her play and exercise time interactive by waving a feather wand on the first perch of her tree. When she climbs up there, wiggle it around on the next perch, encouraging her to keep going.

 

About the Author

Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.

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