It’s pretty easy to figure out how to help your overweight dog—take him out for a walk. Throw a stick. But what about your cat? Some people describe their feline friends as sedentary, sluggish, laid-back. Okay, lazy. Forget chasing mice. These cats consider exercise climbing to their favorite perch by the window. Naturally, this often leads to weight gain. How can you get your mobility-challenged kitties active? Here are five ways you can help.

1. Try new toys.
Your cat may not naturally respond to those jingly toy balls, or go ga-ga for catnip. Keep trying. Browsing the pet store aisles will reveal a multitude of options. Or who knows, maybe your cat will end up preferring something you have already at home, like a wad of paper or an old shoe lace.

2. Play along.
It’s no fun to play alone. Try tossing a soft ball up a few steps. Dangle a string of yarn along as you walk down the hall. Tempt your reluctant cat with new sounds and noises to investigate.

3. Move the food bowl.
If your kitty’s only exercise is sidling up to the food bowl, make that bowl harder to reach. If possible, set it on a high counter so he has to jump to receive his meal. You could try moving the food bowl around to different places. Some cats enjoy the challenge of “hunting” for their food.

4. Try walking on a leash.
Does your cat crave the outdoors? She might also have fun walking with you outside. Admittedly, it’s not always the easiest process. describes how!

5. Consider a friend.
A frisky companion might invigorate your resident couch potato. You know best whether your cat, and your household, would be receptive to a new addition.

These tips may help your laid back cat embrace some get-up-and-go. If not, my dog Kelly is willing to come over and chase your cat around, just enough to give it a little exercise. She promises to be gentle, and snuggle up with it afterward.

This blog first ran on, September 2009.