Exercising is good for everyone, including animals. But sometimes we don’t know how to manage exercise for cats or we can’t understand their needs.
It is no secret that feline obesity rates have increased in the United States, but it is also a growing problem in the rest of the world. Part of the problem is lack of exercise, but how much exercise does a domestic cat need each day? Cats that live outdoors or in semi-freedom often do a lot of exercise, but most cats only live indoors. As any animal behaviorist can confirm, physical exercise for cats – especially during play – is essential for their physical and emotional well-being. Let’s avoid making them slaves to the sofa, their health is affected.
How to practice and play with our cat
Do we worry that our indoor cat is not exercising enough? Although it is true that cats have the evolutionary advantage of a high metabolism that works even when they relax (see lions in the wild), however, they need some physical activity to keep them away from a sedentary sloth life, and from any obesity.
Unlike dogs, cats cannot be hooked to the end of a leash and taken for a walk in the neighborhood – well, some can, but they must be trained in the collar as early as kittens. It may take a little imagination, along with some trial and error, but we can find ways to encourage our kitty to be more active. Playing with the cat can be an excellent form of encouragement. All you need are some creative ideas to keep our cat happy and active!
How much exercise do cats need every day?
It is generally recognized that most cats in the house don’t exercise enough. There is a recent study on the activity of cats outdoors and the size of the territories of these cats was surprisingly large, so they moved a lot. This study showed that non-owned cats were much more active than owned cats, leading some to think that our domestic cats are under-trained.
According to our expert, cats should spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day engaged in moderate exercise. Some cats will need less exercise and some more, but 30 minutes is a good place to start. As for how to carry out this type of activity, there is no easy answer, and all owners and cats will have different things that they like to do.
It’s up to us to discover their favorite games. Some like to chase feathers, others play chasing some toys, others take walks, others play with laser pointers or other interactive toys. Providing a lot of vertical space like climbing trees is one of the best ways to ensure that our cats get enough daily exercise. We begin to think practically how to increase the levels of activity in our home with our feline friends. This will lead to happier, less stressed and healthier cats.
The reason for exercise for cats
Physical activity is ideal for our pets. The activities help maintain a healthy body weight and keep the muscles toned and strong, and also keep the mind alert and active. Exercise is also fun and can offer bonding opportunities with our pets. There are many ways to get our cat more involved in the game and they don’t require much time, money or effort from us owners.
Depending on the age, weight, temperament and interests of the cat, we may be able to create an area where it can move and climb. Cat trees and scratching posts are ideal for this type of activity. If we’re comfortable with DIY tools, we could also build a jungle-style gym for our cats, or find one in pet supplies stores, or online. And if the cat is reluctant, we may have to be more involved in the celebrations with him / her.
How much time to spend on exercise
We should try to spend about 10-15 minutes a few times a day, involving our cat in some form of activity. Young cats and kittens usually take the initiative to involve their owners in the game, or will find their fun independently. Young cats tend to be easily amused and will probably want to keep playing long after we owners get tired.
Older and overweight cats are a bit more difficult for cats to engage in exercise. They usually do not have the stamina or interest in prolonged playing time, but still benefit from short activities during the day.. If we have a cat that falls into these categories, we can start with a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. After finding something that involves the interest of our kitty, we try different versions of that activity, gradually increasing the time we spend playing.
Suggestions for creative activity
Activities that stimulate a cat’s natural hunting instinct are often the best solution. Small motorized, remote-controlled and battery-powered hairy mice are perfect for attracting the attention of a cat. Cheap non-motorized mice are also interesting; we will only have to do all the movements of the fake mouse, perhaps using a string or wire attached to the toy.
On the same line, feather toys are good replicas of birds and are often attached to the end of a stick or rope, so you can imitate the movements of an injured bird, one of a cat’s favorite items to chase after (the cat should never have access to feather toys without supervision, however, as they can be very dangerous if ingested). And everyone knows how many kittens adore a simple moving wire. A piece of thick tape, shoelaces or a thread, can be moved on the floor, or under a closed door (remaining on one side of the door and the cat on the other), just out of the cat’s reach.
Many cats grow out of this charm with the rope as they age, but not all of them do. It would not be bad to try with an older cat. We just remember to put the rope and ribbons away after our game sessions. Many emergencies with intestinal blockages could have been avoided if the rope had not been left within reach of the cat enough to swallow it.
Another favorite toy is the ray of light. If we already have a small flashlight, we can try to have it chased by the cat. Laser pointers are even better games, since the small beam of light appears to be a small insect, and cats love to chase insects. We stay low with the light, or we can see the cat trying to climb on the shelves to get it, and end up with broken knickknacks on the floor. Also, always make sure to avoid flashing the beam directly into your cat’s eyes.
We keep the fun for our furry friend active, trying things we already have at home. Empty boxes in which we drill holes can be large “caves” and toys to scratch, and crumpled paper, especially if of a type that makes a lot of noise, is ideal for running around. Paper bags are also fun to crawl into, but we avoid plastic bags; we do not want to risk accidental suffocation. In addition: plastic rings, cardboard rolls of toilet paper, and rolls of kitchen paper towels, stuffed animals, etc. Just be careful that none of these homemade “toys” can become dangerous.
Scratching posts and cat trees cause cats to climb, an activity that makes them use their muscles and naturally consume the tips of their claws. If we have the space, we organize an obstacle course for cats in the house, so that the cat can jump from one place to another to get to the next perch.
There are prefabricated shelving systems that can be found online or in stores, or we can create our own system, with shelves that go from floor to ceiling in a stepped pattern.. Some people will add a spiral staircase high up to the ceiling, so that their cats can climb and jump all the way to find a good place from which they can watch over their feline kingdom. If we have a courtyard, we can build or buy an external fence that allows the cat to be outside, but without the dangers of traffic and other animals.
Finally, if the cat really needs to lose weight, there are exercise wheels – like wheels made for hamsters – made just for cats. Exercise wheels don’t take up much space and allow cats to run and walk at will. With a little imagination and a commitment to dedicate at least an hour combined every day to the activity of our cat, we will discover that both us owners and our furry friends are enjoying a healthier and more joyful life.