How Much Exercise Does Your Cat Need?
It’s a common misconception that cats don’t need a lot of physical activity. But just how much exercise does your cat need?
Cats differ from dogs in many ways, but one thing they have in common is a need for regular exercise. Although kitties can sometimes appear lazy and may seem more content to curl up on the sofa than run around and play, they need daily physical activity to stay fit and prevent unhealthy weight gain. This is especially true for indoor cats, who often become couch potatoes.
Cats Should Be Active at Least 30 Minutes a Day
Most experts agree that cats need about 30 minutes of exercise a day. Kittens and young cats need one to two hours. If you have a pair of kittens or younger cats, they’ll generally look after their exercise needs by playing, wrestling, and chasing each other around the house.
Single cats and those getting into middle age tend to become more sedentary and may need encouragement to get moving, sort of like people when they become middle-aged. However, even these cats will often do some of their own exercises. The “zoomies,” when a cat tears through the house for no particular reason, is an example of cats doing their own exercise. Even stretching and giving the scratching post a workout will exercise a cat’s muscles. But these activities alone won’t add up to enough exercise if your cat spends the rest of his time sleeping or watching birds out the window.
To ensure your cat gets enough daily exercise, he must regularly engage in interactive play. If playing with your cat for an hour or so every day doesn’t fit into your schedule, break it down by scheduling a few shorter sessions throughout the day. This is a good idea since cats prefer short bursts of activity; your kitty will be happy with short exercise sessions and may even learn to anticipate them if you do them consistently. Just be sure the sessions add up to at least 30 minutes a day. Short periods of exercise are also better for older or overweight kitties.
Toys Help Make Exercise Fun
Getting your cat to move keeps her mentally and physically stimulated and builds a bond between you. Making exercise fun helps encourage physical activity, and since play and exercise are usually intertwined when it comes to cats, it’s easier than you might think to ensure your feline friend is getting her daily workout. Not surprisingly, toys play a big part in engaging your cat in an interactive exercise.
If you’ve lived with cats long enough, you’ll notice they have their favorite toys – the milk ring, the catnip banana, the sparkle ball, and the little furry mouse. Cats also like things that move, so determine which toy is your kitty’s favorite, and try throwing it for him to chase down the hall or up a set of stairs. Chances are, you’ll have to retrieve it from him to throw again, but some cats will play fetch and bring the toy back to you to throw again.
Few cats fail to be intrigued by a fishing pole toy, but what’s on the end makes the difference. A favorite of many cats is the Cat Dancer, with little cardboard tubes attached to the end of a bouncy wire. Others, such as Neko Flies, have interchangeable ends, including a furry mouse and various bugs. As the name suggests, Da Bird is bird-like and provides kitties with a realistic prey experience. You can even find an electric flopping fish on Amazon which is exactly what it sounds like, a fish that flops around.
Laser toys are great for a feline workout but can be controversial because they do not offer the ultimate satisfaction of a catch-and-kill, the way real toys do. You should offer your cat a treat reward to avoid frustration when he “catches” the laser light. It’s also vital that you don’t shine the light in your cat’s eyes.
The allure of a cat wheel can be epitomized by the image of an energetic Bengal running at warp speed! However, it can be a pretty pricey investment, costing from $800 to $1,000, depending on the manufacturer. But it could be cheaper than a new sofa if you have a high-energy kitty on your hands.
Other Ways to Exercise Your Cat
Toys aren’t the only way to engage your cat in exercise. Agility training is usually considered a canine sport, but it’s also gaining popularity among cats. Felines can even compete in International Cat Agility Tournaments. Agility courses can tap into a cat’s natural ability to sprint, jump, and learn quickly. The website catagility.com offers information on how cats are enriched by agility and which cats are best suited. You can also build a simple agility course for your cat at home. Just a few boxes, chairs or books set up along a hallway can be used as a simple buy fun agility course for your cat.
Walking the dog is considered great exercise for both of you, but when it comes to cats, it takes a special kind of feline to make leash walking work. However, cats can be acclimated to a leash and harness, especially started when they are young. A leash and harness is an excellent ways to allow a cat to explore the great outdoors safely and offer a change of scene even if she moseys along sniffing the grass and shrubs.
Experiment and change things up to find out what your cat likes doing most. The more she loves the activity, the more willing she’ll be to do it. Combining your cat’s natural athleticism with at least half an hour of daily exercise keep her trim and mentally stimulated while strengthening your bond of love and companionship.