Hastings Veterinary Hospital - How to Get Your Cat to Exercise More (They Need it Too!)

How to Get Your Cat to Exercise More (They Need it Too!)

Cats aren’t exactly renowned for their highly organized exercise regimens. When you think of a cat, you probably think of naps and carefree stretching, punctuated by brief explosions of energy. Although outdoor cats usually get a decent amount of exercise in a day, it can be tougher to keep an indoor cat in shape, so that’s what we’re going to focus on in this article. 

In combination with a proper diet, exercise will go a long way to keep your indoor cat in the best possible health. Otherwise, you run the risk of your cat becoming overweight, which can lead to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, and more. With that in mind, here are Hastings Vet’s top ways to get your cat to exercise more:

Exercise games for cats

Physical games are some of the most effective (and fun) ways to get your cat more active. Although the energy levels of cats differ widely depending on their age, breed, and personality, you should always try to play with your cat as often as possible. Some of the best things you can use to play with your cat are:

1. Feathers or other objects on sticks and strings

The majority of cat toys are some variation of a lure on a string, attached to a stick. Think of it like a fishing rod, only you’re trying to catch a four kilogram predator instead of a fish. Moving the stick around mimics the movement of a small animal, which will get your cat’s hunting instincts going and encourage them to go for the ‘kill’. This can be a lot of fun for cats and humans alike, and is a great way to encourage your indoor cat to get some exercise, all while honing their natural instincts.

2. Playing with a ball

Playing with a cat-friendly ball is another great way to get your cat moving. Seeing an unassuming ball rolling along the floor, practically begging to be pounced on, is basically irresistible to most cats. Simply rolling it around is usually enough to spur your cat into action, keeping them active while promoting their predator instincts. Obviously, make sure the ball isn’t small enough for them to swallow, and keep an eye on your pet just in case.

Build the indoor environment with exercise in mind

Playing with your cat is great, but you don’t want your pet to solely rely on you for exercise. Setting up your indoor space with your cat’s activity in mind is a great way to make sure they’re getting enough exercise, even when you’re not around to tempt them with a toy. Cats love to climb, scratch stuff, hide in little places, and generally cause mischief, so outfitting your place with things to help with this will not only save your furniture, it’ll help keep your cat healthy as well!

Some of the best ways to set up your space for your cat to get exercise are:

1. Getting a scratching post or a cat tree

This is one of the best things you can do for your cat. Although there’s a common joke that the more time you spend finding the perfect scratching post, the less likely your cat is to use it, this isn’t always the case. A scratching post will likely see a lot of use, especially if you rub a bit of catnip on it once in a while. If you’re able to, get a cat tree with a scratching post included. This way, your cat has something to climb around on, a high-up place to relax, and a scratching post all together in one convenient package. 

An important note on scratching posts is that it should be the right one for your cat. Get one that’s tall enough that they can fully extend against it, and ensure the post will support their weight. The better suited the post is to your cat, the more likely they are to use it. 

You can also experiment with other things to get your cat moving around the house. Some cats love those long tubes that they can run through and hide in, and some might just be satisfied with a few boxes here and there for them to climb in. Play around and see what your cat likes best, and what gets them moving the most. 

2. Cycling a few toys in and out to keep things fresh

Cats love a good toy, but like kids, they tend to get bored of the same ones eventually. Keep it exciting by rotating toys in and out, encouraging your cat to go on the hunt and get active at home. The more interesting the toy, the more time they’re likely to spend playing with them, so make sure they’ve got enough to do around the house!

3. Give your cat an elevated spot

Cats love to find a vantage point to survey their kingdom (your home) and watch the world. Try to find a good (and safe!) spot in your house, somewhere they can get a good view of everything. If you’re able to put this spot near a window, that’s even better. This is a great way to foster your cat’s natural hunting instincts, and is more likely to get them into their natural mindstate, promoting a more active lifestyle.

4. Make time for your cat!

While having stuff at home for your cat to play with is great, nothing is more fun than playing with their person. Make sure you’re making as much time as possible to play with your cat. Whether you’re whipping a fake mouse on a string around, or simply chasing them throughout the house, your cat is sure to have a lot of fun and get a lot of exercise if you simply engage with them. You might get a few scratches along the way, but that’s part of the joy of cat ownership, right?

Keeping your cat in good shape

It can be challenging to keep your indoor cat in a healthy lifestyle. However, with a little bit of care put into their toys and their home environment, along with ensuring you’re frequently available to play with them, you’ll be able to stimulate them and keep their natural instincts sharp. If you’ve done the above, but your cat is still acting more like Garfield than a frisky kitten, you should consult your vet to see what other changes can be made.

If you have more questions about keeping your cat healthy, please don’t hesitate to contact Hastings Veterinary Hospital today!

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