Catball!
September 16, 2008 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Just returned from overseas to discover my girlfriend's beloved kitty has grown a bit portly. This is getting my girl down so I figured I'd surprise her by coming up with a safe way to help the little apartment-dwelling butterball shed a few pounds. Specifically, I'm looking for a hamster ball, but for cats.

She won't walk on a leash and I'm morally opposed to putting cats outside to run around (especially in the city - too dangerous). I think if she had a little ball she could run around in the park. Also, it would need to float in case she fell off a bridge or something. fyi the cat's name is Lucy and we don't overfeed her.
posted by Baby_Balrog to Pets & Animals (39 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just found this, but is 36 inches large enough for a full-grown cat? Also I'm worried that 1/8" thickness is not a heavy enough gauge.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:23 AM on September 16, 2008


I put my cat in one of these once. He looked at me like I was a complete idiot for a minute or so, and then promptly curled up in it and fell asleep. He loved sleeping in it. YMMV, of course, but I'd suggest switching to a weight-reducing dry chat food.
posted by meerkatty at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Uh, cat food, unless you're speaking French today.
posted by meerkatty at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think there is any way a cat will respond favourably to being crammed in something akin to a hamster ball. I imagine the vast majority of cats would be probably distressed at this and would not grasp the concept of running around in it anyway. I'd alter its diet or learn to love it the way it is.
posted by fire&wings at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most likely, you will do nothing but freak the fuck out of your girl friends cat. And probably the shit, too. Just watch the feeding, and play with the cat indoors. This plan isn't going to work like you think it might.
posted by kimdog at 10:29 AM on September 16, 2008


But please report back if you do this!
posted by cjorgensen at 10:31 AM on September 16, 2008


Look at it this way: Cats like/need to sneak around. Their exercise isn't runrunrun like dogs' or rodents'; it's a matter of sneaking and stalking and lots of leaping. A ball does not help any of that.

I'd suggest the combination of a weight-loss dry food and a cheap laser pointer.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:31 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Assuming you're not kidding, this isn't a good idea. The cat could easily be injured and would likely not find this amusing.

As far as surprising your girlfriend, though, I bet it would.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:34 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


my girlfriend's beloved kitty has grown a bit portly. . . we don't overfeed her.

Wanna bet? Cats are not magic. Less food, more laser pointer.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:40 AM on September 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


My friend has a small log with an eye-bolt and a handle they use to tether their dog to at the park. If you're hellbent on getting the cat out in the park, it's a thought.
posted by piedmont at 10:42 AM on September 16, 2008


Seconding the laser pointer as a means to exercise the feline. It's how my city-dwelling kittay keeps her girlish figure; she chases that thing around for about twenty minutes every night, while I get my cardio workout on my stair-stepper.
posted by heyho at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2008


In addition to the laser pointer those little tiny RC cars that were everywhere a few years ago (about the same time laser pointers were all the rage with the youngin's) also make great cat toys.
posted by piedmont at 10:49 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I look foward to seeing the video on YouTube!

Seriously though, we have an older, big-boned kitty as well, and vet recommended a low-calorie dry cat food and restrictions on amount of food she eats daily. She is mostly an inactive lap cat yet lost about 4 lbs in a year. Ask your vet.
posted by ldenneau at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2008


My cats would claw the everloving shit out of you before they allowed you to stuff them in some ball. And then they would probably fall asleep. Indoor cats don't necessarily like to be outside, no matter how much they stare out the window. Mine just freak out because of the vast openness of it. They want somewhere to hide, which makes retrieving them kinda difficult.

Nthing laser pointer. There are also plastic balls that light up and make noise when you roll them on the floor, or remote control mouses, or.. any number of things that kitty can chase. No need to spend lots of money though; the most frequently chased item in my house is the cap from a milk jug.
posted by desjardins at 10:52 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This guy has built a reward-dropping treadmill for his large cats in the winter months.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrC8l12Ncgw
posted by Iteki at 11:02 AM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


I put my cat in one of these once. He looked at me like I was a complete idiot for a minute or so, and then promptly curled up in it and fell asleep.

That is absolutely what my cat would do.

There's something I saw that takes the same application but applies it to something different -- the kibble. It's a hollow ball that has holes in the sides -- you can adjust the size of the holes -- and the idea is that at feeding time, instead of putting the food in the bowl, you can put about a half cup of the kibble inside the ball instead, and the cat has to roll it around to get the food out.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on September 16, 2008


Hey yeah, the treadmill looks cool.

Do you really think it would hurt the cat to be put in a ball, though? I find that a little hard to believe. Plus, if it floated, she could go questing over vast bodies of water, like Christopher Columbus! No cat has ever circumnavigated my grandma's pond.

Just an idea. If all you cat owners think it would hurt the cat, I won't do it. Safety first and all. But I was she wouldn't be "stuffed" in the ball - it'd have to be proportional to a hamster ball, so I'm think the diameter would need to be at least four times the length of a cat, fully extended. I've never even seen a clear plastic container like that.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:18 AM on September 16, 2008


Hey empress - that's a neat idea - do you have a link?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:19 AM on September 16, 2008


Until empress gets back, take one toilet roll tube, fill it with some kibble, punch some holes in it and fold the ends over. It skitters around the floor and they chase it and food falls out. Prepare to hoover.
posted by Iteki at 11:31 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


One example is http://www.amazon.com/Multivet-Slimcat-Ball-Feeder-Green/dp/B001D1BNFG

I have never tried this, as I suspect my cat would look at it disdainfully and elect to starve herself until I fed her normally, but googling things like "cat ball feeder" give many options.
posted by jeather at 11:40 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Laser pen is a good idea. Cats also chase string and a multitude of other items, and will do this repeatedly in a circle in a small room. Perfect for an indoor cat.

Most cats would be distressed by being put in a plastic ball, or any confined space. You can test this out with your cat by putting a box or upturned laundry basket over it when it's sitting somewhere. The whole idea is a non starter from the very begining because you've little chance of getting the cat in the ball, and once in the ball the cat will most likely sit there staring at you. It won't run around like a hamster.
posted by fire&wings at 11:43 AM on September 16, 2008


Do you really think it would hurt the cat to be put in a ball, though? I find that a little hard to believe. Plus, if it floated, she could go questing over vast bodies of water, like Christopher Columbus!

And if the cat were enclosed in a waterproof floating ball, how would it breathe? How long would you last on the oxygen available within that plastic ornamental ball that you linked to in your original question, especially if you were exercising hard and exhaling lots of carbon dioxide?
posted by Orinda at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nthing the laser pointer. Getting a cat into a big huge ball? Are you kidding me? Any of my cats would have shredded my arms to pieces before I would be able to get them into one.

Also -- have you ever tried to catch a cat when he doesn't want to get caught? Hamster balls work because there are only so many places it can go within the confines of your house. Assuming a cat would run in a cat-ball, you'd need an open field... a nice large space in which the cat could very quickly get very, very far away from you.

And uh... if it's gonna float, won't it need to be airtight? Are you trying to suffocate the poor cat?
posted by cgg at 11:57 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tethering cats, as someone suggested above, might not be the best idea. When I was younger, my dad tethered our kitty to a very long string in our back yard. It worked fine until the kitty jumped over a tall fence. I immediately jumped the fence myself, to find kitty dangling by the neck, his back feet barely touching the ground and an insanely perturbed look on his face. If the rope had been just a little shorter... so yes, I cannot recommend tethering.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:58 AM on September 16, 2008


Obviously if you're going to tether, just as when you walk a cat, use a harness... not a collar.
posted by piedmont at 12:44 PM on September 16, 2008


You could always try a kittwalk or something similar. That at least gets the cat outside, minus the giant plastic ball or a tether. Now making the cat move is your problem...
posted by rand at 12:58 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you should get a real hamster ball. With a hamster in it. Excellent exercise for the cat.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2008 [12 favorites]


Re: the treadmill above - it is possible to buy a cat exercise wheel if you google, erm, "cat exercise wheel," so long as you're prepared to fork out $500 or so.
posted by bettafish at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2008


Hey empress - that's a neat idea - do you have a link?

I went looking for the exact one I got and couldn't find it (I saw it at my local pet shop). This is similar, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2008


yeah, please don't put your cat in an airtight ball....or let the cat drown in one with holes in it....
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 1:29 PM on September 16, 2008


Some cats like to use regular hoomin treadmills too.

Some don't, though.

For cheap/doesn't take up much space/effective, you can't beat a laser pointer to get your cat some exercise.
posted by jamaro at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is the worst idea ever.

It's much easier just to feed the cat a bit less and give them better food. Do you free-feed the cat (leave a bowl of food on the floor), or does it have set eating periods? What kind of food does the cat eat?

Most cat foods are WAY too high in carbohydrates--cats are carnivores and don't need grains or carrots or any of that shit most cat food manufacturers try to market to cat owners. You're best off feeding the cat raw or a very high-protein dry food. You can make your own raw food if you're willing to put in the time, but you can also buy it. I'd recommend Primal for store-bought raw foods, and something like EVO for dry food (it has like 50-60% protein content, as opposed to most the 30% of most brands).

The stuff is more expensive, but your cat will eat less. Our two cats were overweight when we got them from the pound. By feeding them high-protein dry food in the morning and raw food at night, they each lost about three pounds in a few months. Doesn't sound like much, but that is basically insane for a cat. My vet could not believe we got them to lose weight.
posted by schroedinger at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2008


schroedinger: "This is the worst idea ever."

Au contraire, mon frere.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:06 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have a friend who got pregnant late in life, and she swore she was going to get a giant hamster ball for the kid. Then I saw a photo from a Flaming Lips concert showing one of the bandmembers in a giant hamster ball rolling over the crowd and sent it to her.

So I sympathise with your idea, but a cat is not a rock band. When my father's three-legged cat got fat, exercise was only slightly feasible, so my father stopped putting out a full bowl and instead fed the cat twice a day, no exceptions. The cat got slimmer.
posted by acrasis at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2008


People mentioned rolling balls that slowly give out the cat's food - I've seen someone make their own by taking a smallish margarine tub (or similar) and cutting a small square hole in the side. Put kibble in, put the lid on, and put it on the floor for the cat. She did it for a kitten who needed rehabilitating after an injury, and it gave the kitten some interest in life - carnivores enjoy finding their own food. So the kitten batted the tub around to get its food.

So that's a low-cost way to give that idea a try, if you think it might interest your cat.
posted by ysabella at 5:41 PM on September 16, 2008


A cat can walk on a leash, although I am not sure I'd do this in a busy city.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:00 PM on September 16, 2008


Chalk another vote up for the laser pointer. My cats go nuts. I need to take a break before they do.
posted by Silvertree at 6:11 AM on September 17, 2008


My friend's cat was looking ultra-portly about a year ago, so she stopped keeping a bowl of dry food at the ready for him. Instead, she fills a shotglass with dry food and puts that out for him a few times a day. He's not eating nearly as much as he used to, and if he wants to finish the shotglass he really has to work for it, fishing around inside with his tubby little paw.

He's noticeably slimmer now -- still a little tubby, but not pushing maximum density anymore.

And nthing the laser pointer suggestion.
posted by palomar at 3:54 PM on September 17, 2008


My cat likes the laser pointer, but the one thing that is utterly guaranteed to get him running at full blast is the class of cat toys known as teasers." I have one with brightly colored feathers, and he races after that thing like a mofo.
posted by WCityMike at 2:00 PM on September 24, 2008


« Older The FCC on GMRS: SOL or ROFL?   |   Should I stay or should I go? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.