How to Exercise a Cat
Cats, like humans and dogs, need exercise to stay healthy and fit. Though your kitty may enjoy lounging in a sunny spot on the carpet, she should be getting regular exercise every day. There are many things you can do to encourage your cat to exercise.
Encouraging Your Cat to Get Regular Exercise
Schedule regular playtime with your cat.Try to schedule 10 to 15 minutes of playtime with your cat on a daily basis. If it’s the same time every day, your cat will come to expect it and may come to you looking to play.
Allow your kitten to continue playing when you’re done.Kittens are usually very frisky and hyper and will likely play on their own for hours. If your kitten plays at a time that doesn’t work for you (like the middle of the night when you’re trying to sleep), alter her play schedule by initiating play at a time that works for you.
- If your kitten keeps you up at night, try playing with her an hour or so before your bedtime. When you are ready to go to bed, your kitten should be tired enough to also want to calm down.
Encourage your older and overweight cat to move around.Older cats, or those that are overweight, will probably not want to play very often or for very long. Since it’s in their best interest to exercise, encourage your older or overweight cat to move around every day.
- Exercise doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simply encouraging your older or overweight cat to walk around the house, or go up and down the stairs, is helpful.
- If you find a toy or a type of exercise that your older or overweight cat really enjoys, remember it and repeat that activity over and over.
- If you are trying to get an overweight cat to be more active, you might want to check with your veterinarian first to ensure you don’t do anything that may injure your cat.
Make your cat search for his food.A great way to get an overweight cat to exercise is to hide his food in small portions around the house. In order to make him work to find her food every day, don’t hide the food in the same places all the time.
- Hiding spots can be on top of a cat tree, under a bed, on different levels of the house, on a windowsill, etc.
Provide exercise incentives with catnip.Catnip is a herb that some cats find irresistible. If your cat is attracted to catnip, sniffing and eating the catnip can cause your cat to become more active and playful. If your cat isn’t interested in playing, provide her with some catnip to get her going.
Train your cat to walk on a leash.Cats do not naturally take to a leash like a dog will, but if your cat is willing to try, it could be a fun exercise option for both you and your cat.
- Start by putting a harness on your cat and leading him inside the house. Let him wear the harness for a little while and then take it off. Give your cat treats to reinforce the proper behaviour.
- Slowly progress until your cat can stay outside on a leash for a decent period of time without being scared. Constantly reinforce good behaviour with treats.
- If your cat gets scared or stressed at any point in the process, stop. If he continues to get scared or stressed after trying the same step several times, it’s possible your cat may never walk on a leash.
- Once your cat can stay outside on a leash without being scared, take him for a short walk. Increase the length of the walk as needed.
Consider getting your cat a playmate.Individual kittens will find a way to play by themselves for hours, but adult cats may get bored on their own. If you’re away from home for long periods of time, you might want to consider getting your only cat a playmate.
- It’s usually easier to introduce kittens to each other than to introduce an adult cat to another adult cat, or a kitten to an adult cat. Be sure to introduce new cats to your household slowly to avoid fighting and aggression.
Take your cat to a pet physical therapist.Physical or rehabilitation therapists exist for pets and can be a great way to learn the best options for your specific cat. Plus a therapist will have exercise equipment (like an underwater treadmill) that you won’t be able to get at home.
Creating Fun Activities for Your Cat To Do
Stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instinct.Cats are hunters. Even domestic cats retain the instinct to hunt and chase small things that move. Therefore, toys that stimulate hunting behaviour will usually be very enjoyable to your cat.
- Toys like remote-controlled mice, anything on a string, feathers, or ribbons are very popular toys that most cats will want to “hunt."
Shine a laser pointer around.The little red dot is a cat’s ultimate nemesis. Almost every cat will become enamoured with a little red dot. Laser pointers are fairly inexpensive to buy and can be used for hours of exercise.
- Do not shine the laser light into your cat’s eyes, or another person’s eyes for that matter.
- Cats will jump up a wall or onto a shelf to attack “the dot,” so be careful where you shine the laser pointer.
- You can even buy laser pointers that are built into a platform that moves the dot around on its own. All you have to do is turn it on and watch your cat go crazy!
Give your cat a box or two.“If I fits, I sits.” Cats love boxes. Even big cats in zoos love boxes. Cats are often known to play in a box that an expensive cat toy came in, rather than with the expensive cat toy. Putting out a couple of empty boxes can keep your cat occupied for hours, and create a new sleeping spot.
- Some cats also love to shred boxes until there’s nothing left. There’s nothing wrong with this, other than it’ll leave a big mess.
- Combine several boxes to make a maze or a castle for your cat to play in.
- Fitted cardboard pieces that are used to pack items into a box are also great toys for your cat. Only use cardboard pieces, not styrofoam pieces.
Provide paper or bags for play.Packing paper or tissue paper are also great toys for cats. Start by crinkling the paper up so it makes noise when your cat jumps on it. Paper bags are another great toy. Cats love to explore the inside of paper bags and some will even hide their other toys inside.
- Do not use plastic bags as toys for your cat.
Reuse stuff from around the house as cat toys.There are a lot of items around your house you can reuse and turn into a toy. Most of these items would just be put in the garbage or recycling, so giving them to your cat will extend the life of the item before it ends up in landfill.
- The plastic rings from the spout of a milk jug are always a big hit with cats.
- Paper towel or toilet paper rolls fascinate some cats.
- Tie tabs from baked goods or electronics packaging can be fun, although you might want to supervise your cat when you give her a tie tab.
Set up a cat tree.Cats love being up high where they can observe and survey their kingdoms. Making or buying your cat an awesome cat tree will help him get lots of exercise climbing up and jumping down. Place the cat tree in front of a window so your cat can also have a place to watch the birds, people, and anything else that might go by.
- Most cat trees also double as a scratching post.
- You can also buy, or make, cat perches that can be attached directly to your walls. If you place them at strategic locations around the house, your cat can jump from one to another to get from one room to another.
Install a "catio" (cat patio).In general, cats shouldn’t be allowed to roam outside. Cats are natural hunters and can end up killing a lot of songbirds and rodents. Plus, there are a lot of dangers outside that you don’t want to expose your cat to (e.g. cars, pesticides, other cats, dogs, humans, etc.). Instead of letting your cat outside on her own, build her a catio.
- A catio is essentially a small deck outside that’s surrounded by protective fencing or wire. The catio allows your cat to go outside, get some exercise and fresh air, without being exposed to the dangers of the outdoors.
- You can even build a small catio on a balcony if that’s all you have access to.
- An ideal catio is one that your cat can come and go from on her own (through a window or a door), but you can also build a separate cat enclosure in your backyard.
Give your cat an exercise wheel.A recent development in cat exercise is the cat exercise wheel. These exercise wheels are very similar to the ones you’d find in a hamster cage, but obviously much larger.
- The downside of these wheels is that they are expensive. But if you can afford one (or are creative enough to build one) they’re a great way to allow your cat to run without ever leaving the house.
QuestionSo I dished out the bucks for a large cat wheel. It's been about four months, and regardless of what I've tried, she almost immediately jumps off it. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerCats love to play whether you have a cat stand or not does not matter; the main thing is to play with them. Buy a toy that she likes, and learn with her. It's not as much about her getting exercise as it is developing a relationship with the cat. Playing with a cat is the best way for it to get exercise.Thanks!
QuestionHow do you make a homemade cat wheel?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBefore you start making the wheel, do some research to make sure that it wont hurt the cat, as some kinds of wheel can seriously damage the cat's back. You might try making a wheel out of an old car tire by cutting out the side part on one of the sides, then using a pulley wheel and connect that to some kind of stand. Then, connect the spokes from and old bike to the tire. Use your imagination. Just make sure it is safe for the cat.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I exercise an old cat?James KeevyCommunity AnswerIf the cat is close to death, don't try to exercise it. If it is OK, see if you can make it jump from one chair to another chair, using treats.Thanks!
QuestionwikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPut the food in two separate bowls. If the cat tries to eat from both bowls, feed them in separate rooms with a closed door in between.Thanks!
QuestionI have two cats at my house. I think having my cats look for their food is a fun idea, but I don't want one cat to eat all the food. What should I try doing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry using string or even a small stick as a toy for them to chase/catch. Some cats love chasing a laser light. These are a few ways your cat(s) can get some activity and exercise into their daily life without using food as the source of exercise.Thanks!
- When playing with your cat, never allow yourself or another human to be the “prey.” If you allow your fingers, hands, toes, or feet to be the prey, you’ll teach your cat it’s okay to attack humans. Unfortunately, this may lead to behaviour problems in the future.
- If you use string or ribbons to play with your cat, put them away when you’re done playing. Don’t allow your cat to play with these items on her own. If she accidentally swallows string or ribbons, she might need surgery to have it removed.
Video: Great Exercises for Your Cat
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