Exercising Your Cat – Tips & Tricks
When you think of cats – you might think of a nice long catnap, or a day spent observing through the window. The first thing to come to mind isn’t a long walk or throwing a ball in the yard like for our dog family members. But, like any animal, cats need exercise to stay physically and mentally stimulated – and in good health!
Staying active is crucial for your cat, but you might be wondering – how can I exercise them? They probably won’t want to be leashed up for a stroll, but there are things you can practice regularly to get your feline best friends up and moving!
Importance of Exercising Your Cat
If you’re a dog owner, you know your dog will be eager to participate in any form of activity such as walking or playing which involves risks and dangers, it might not be as apparent for cat owners as your cat will opt to lounge and sleep most of the day. In fact, cats sleep on average 12 – 15 hours a day! Vet and pet experts agree that implementing some activities will help your cat stay in shape, be mentally sharp, and have good health into their senior years. Working off your cat’s extra energy will make them less restless during their most active hours – dusk and dawn – and give you a special bonding time.
Exercising Your Cat at Home
Cats can be very particular – sometimes, they will show you signs they do not want to play. Read your cat’s body language and implement these exercise strategies when they are active and eager to participate. If you try to play and your cat runs away, that’s okay! Catch them at a different time – you will know when they are interested.
Remember to keep the activity sessions short, around 10-15 minutes. For older cats, 2-3 sessions a day is good, but for younger cats, you can practice up to 10 sessions in a day. Keeping it short will keep it fun, and your cat’s attention span will be entirely yours for that short period. Take a break if your cat starts to show signs of exhaustion, such as panting or heavy breathing; they are probably tuckered out and need to rest!
Here is a list of some great ways to implement exercise around your house with your cat.
Using cat exercising toys – Keeping toys around is a great way to stimulate your cat and keep them entertained. There are so many different toys to choose from, and each cat will have a different preference for their favorite. There are various options, from feathers to strings to toys resembling mice, birds, or even bugs.
Puzzle Toys – A great way to keep your cat’s mind active is using puzzle toys. Your cat will be eager to play with positive reinforcement built into the game via little treats. You can also use these at feeding times to slow your cat’s eating and make eating fun!
Wand Toys – These toys can make playing interactive for you and your cat and protect you from scratching. Cats are natural hunters, so allowing them to chase and catch a toy on the end of a string will be something they are eager to participate in.
Electronic Toys – Different electronic toys will also keep your cat involved and provide some excellent exercise. Switch an electronic toy on and watch it draw in your cat as it moves on its own – beckoning them to chase or catch it!
Hidden Treats Toys – Similar to puzzle toys, you can use toys that allow you to hide some treats or food inside. Your cat’s hunting instincts will be triggered, and they will have lots of fun trying to scavenge the goodies from their toys.
Hunting Toys – Your cat will love a toy that it can really sink its teeth into. Be prepared for them to “hunt” whatever animal-shaped toy you introduce and let them pounce to their heart’s content. Just be aware that you might have to switch out some toys after they’ve been ‘caught’ too many times and start to fall apart.
Laser Pointers – An excellent way to get your cat up and moving is with lasers. Pointing the laser around different spots will make your cat eager to follow, chase, and catch the light. A good thing to implement after using a laser pointer is a toy that they can actually catch. If they spend 10 minutes chasing around the laser – let them chew on a toy afterward, so they feel content that they have successfully chased down their target.
Elevated Perches & Cat Trees – Having a specially made cat tree or shelves around your home will have your cat jumping and running around to try and reach a higher spot. Cats love to see the world from a higher vantage point – and cat trees aren’t just for sleeping! Having these higher spots will give your cat great exercise as they jump from place to place and entertain themselves climbing.
Go For a Walk – Putting a harness on your cat might seem daunting, but many cats have grown to love a nice outdoor walk. This depends on your cat and might take some patience to get them accustomed to a special cat harness – but it can be a great way to get their legs moving. Its recommended to only bring your cat for a walk outside if you know they are sociable and won’t get overly anxious from seeing other animals and people.
Wear a Tail – This might sound silly but tucking a fake tail into your pants and running around the house can be fun for you and your cat to get some activity. They will chase and try to catch you! Just make sure to leave the string out of reach when you aren’t using it, as it can be a choking hazard.
Catnip Bubbles – If your cat loves catnip, not only are there different catnip-infused toys, but there are catnip bubbles! Using these bubbles can give your cat their catnip fix and have them jumping around to pop them.
Scheduling in Playtime
For any of these ideas above, it is good to start implementing a schedule for introducing some activity to your cat’s routine. Think about when your cat is most active and start using that energy for any of these toys or games. Cats are most active in the early morning and before bed, so this could be an excellent time to think about having a session or two of exercise. Letting them play right before they eat can generate positive associations as they get their food as a “prize” that they’ve caught.
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