Exercise is very important for your cat. It helps maintain a healthy body weight, tone, strong muscles and an alert mind. Since most of our cats are indoor only cats these days, it means we need to provide opportunities for them to exercise, otherwise this sedentary life can lead to obesity and disease.
Exercising your cat can be fun and it also gives you the opportunity to bond. You should spend at least 10 to 15 minutes a day trying to engage your cat in play. Young cats and kittens will usually be easily amused, but older cats will take more effort to engage in activity so you’ll need to try several different activities and toys.
Activities that stimulate hunting instincts such as: a furry mouse toy tied to the end of a string that you can pull, feathers on the end of a stick or wand, or laser pointers may peak your cat’s interest.
Cat towers are a great way to get your cat to exercise on their own. Cats are naturally attracted to heights since it gives them a better vantage point as hunters. Getting your cat an intricate cat tower or a group of cat hammocks can entice your cat to move by climbing and leaping. At least they need to make a little bit of an effort to get up to the top where you’ll usually find them napping later on.
Though not all cats are susceptible to cat nip, a little sprinkle of the stuff can go a long way with many felines. We like to put a little in toys to get the cats to fetch them, or at least run after them and not bring them back. Remember some cats can get aggressive with cat nip so try a little and then go from there.
Bubbles can be a very inexpensive way to entertain a cat. Cats of all ages will normally be intrigued by these which means they will go investigate. You can use a bubble machine or plain old wand to get your cat to exercise. The random movement of bubbles floating through the air can get your cat popping and chasing them.
Hiding treats or toys around the house is a technique we have used for years with dogs that are super high energy. Well it turns out our feline friends are hunters too which means that searching and stalking their toys and treats is actually way more fun than just getting them. To make sure your cat is fully engaged in this activity, make sure they don’t see you hiding the items or treats. The whole point is for them to use their instincts and spend some time moving around the house trying to find them.
Bird feeders outside a window can provide some entertainment for your cat too. Many cats will exercise at least a little bit by stalking the birds from inside, sometimes even jumping up to try to get to them. The best part is that most of the time, the birds are blissfully unaware there is a cat on the other side of the window, so they keep coming back.
Having more than one cat can also help them stay active. It is usually best to introduce cats when they are young. Many older cats will be very insulted if you all of a sudden get a new cat. But if they grow up together they are likely to get along, and cats that get along will play and chase each other. In many cases all you have to do in engage one cat in play to get everybody involved in the game.
Other things around your home that may engage your cat are crumpled paper, paper bags, empty toilet paper rolls and small stuffed toys. And of course who can forget the all-time favorite cat entertainment system…The cardboard box. Though if your cat is just napping inside the box, try adding a little ball to roll around in there. The ball will bounce of the sides and keep your cat engaged for a bit longer.
Some people will go as far as building an outdoor enclosure for their cats. These can be quite intricate mazes that allow your cat some time outside in your yard but its enclosed so it keeps them safe. These provide lots of opportunity to move around and it can be a very enriching experience for your cat. They can play and run as well as listen to birds and other critters.
The most important thing to remember is to take the time to play with your cat and come up with ways to make them move a bit more. A cat that exercises regularly will be healthier and happier all around.