When you have an indoor-only cat it is easy to worry that he or she is not getting enough cat exercise.
It’s a fact that cats have evolved with high metabolisms that work even as they lie around relaxing but this is most definitely not enough for them to get enough cat exercise for indoor cats. All cats need to get physical to break out of a sedentary life that has the potential for obesity and sloth.
To encourage cat exercise for indoor cats takes imagination, trial and error, but it’s very possible when you just put in a small amount of time and a little bit of effort.
Why Cats Should Exercise
Activity is good for all of us. It helps maintain healthy body weight and keeps the muscles strong and toned while keeping the mind alert and active. Exercise offers us opportunities to bond with our pets, and can be a lot of fun.
You will find there are a myriad of ways of involving your cat in play – and better still they don’t need you to take much money, time, or effort.
It will be determined by your cat’s temperament, age, weight, and interests, but it may be possible to create an area for your cat to romp around and climb. What are ideal for this are cat scratchposts and cat trees.
How Much Should A Cat Exercise?
To get your cat active, aim to spend between 10 and 15 minutes a few times every day engaging your cat in some activity. Younger cats and kittens usually will take the initiative engaging you in play, or finding their own entertainment. At young ages cats tend to be amused easily. Indeed they will no doubt desire to continue playing long after you have tired.
It is a tougher task motivating older and overweight cats, who tend not to have the same interest in play, but will benefit from being encouraged to engage in short activities throughout the day. Start with just a few minutes each time, a few times a day.
Once you have identified what it is that engages your cat, try to vary the activity, gradually increasing the time you spend playing together.
Useful Triggers For Your Cat’s Activity Interest
Cats have natural hunting instincts so these are where to start.
Remote controlled and battery powered furry toys like mice are good for getting a cat’s attention. Even mice on a string are appealing. Similarly feather toys are good replicas for birds – one of a cat’s favourite objects for stalking. Lengths of thick ribbon, shoe laces or loose yarn can be employed to give your cat loads of fun.
It’s worth remembering to put the string and ribbons away after games. It means there is more likely to be interest when the props come out again but also emergency intestinal blockages are avoided if the string is not left out for the cat to swallow.
Another trigger of fascination is a beam of light. With a flashlight, you could attempt to encourage your cat to chase it around. Laser pointers are even better. But be sure not to shine the beam directly into your cat’s eyes.
There are innumerable ways of keep the novelty alive for your cat simply utilising stuff you probably already have somewhere in your home. Cut holes into empty boxes to make “caves” for your cat to explore. Paper bags can be crawled into too.
Cat trees and scratch posts encourage cats to climb. This not only exercises their muscles but it has the added benefit of wearing down the sharp points of their claws. If there’s space, try designing an obstacle course for your cat so that your pet can move from place to place.
If you have outside space like a garden yard an outdoor enclosure would allow your cat the benefit of being outside with none of the dangers of either traffic or other animals.
Whether indoors or outdoors there are exercise wheels for cats — very similar to the wheels hamsters use. These don’t take up too much space, but they enable cats to run to their heart’s content.
With commitment and some imagination you can discover that both you and your cat enjoy a happier, healthier and more joyful life together.