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Posted on 09-06-2014

How Do I Get My Cat to Exercise?

Cats are by nature very active hunters in the wild.  It’s not common you see a fat outdoor cat, but outdoor cats on average live only 5 years.  It is strongly advised to always keep domestic cats indoors, safe from the many dangers that domestic animals have no method to defend themselves.  Unfortunately, indoor cats also have no natural outlet for all of their hunting energy.  They can become destructive, aggressive, or even start urinating inappropriately. 

Inactive Cats Can Get Fat or Develop Behavioral Problems | Pine Creek Veterinary HospitalOther cats become “fat and lazy” because of the absence of exercise.

You also can’t rely on the fact that your cat stampedes down your hallway for 5 minutes once or twice a week around 11 at night! You must have planned exercise daily where you play with your cat with toys. Buy toys and use them to mimic the actions of the animals a cat would normally hunt - a mouse, bird, lizard, rabbit or bug. Take a laser pointer and skitter it across the floor like a bug. Use a teaser or wand toy that looks like a bird and pretend to land and take off. But don’t just flap it around because that’s not what a bird does. Try to think about what a bird really does and then reenact that with the toy.

Teaser toys can also be used in a way to encourage your cat to chase and stalk the toy like it was prey. Small rapid movements or pulling the toy behind a wall or couch entices the little hunter in your cat to pounce. When you see your cats crouch down and his haunches rock from side to side before sprinting after the toy, then you know he is having a good hunting session. It also a good idea to buy a variety of toys, as your cat’s mood and favorite toy may change from one play session to the next.

Clients often ask us about getting a new kitten to entice the older cat to exercise more.  Although this can occasionally get the older cat to exercise initially, rarely do the effects last long term.  Don’t forget, taking care of a pet is a financial commitment and a huge responsibility. 

What happens if your cat doesn’t like toys or gets bored easily? Active Cats Stay Fit and Healthy | Pine Creek Veterinary Hospital If a cat can’t catch something in the wild within 5 minutes, they give up and will stalk something else. So, make sure to keep your play sessions short and change games every 5-7 minutes! You have to make sure they win occasionally. Put a tasty treat under the toy and let them pounce on it, eat it, and win.

A really good game is bathtub hockey. Give a cat a ping pong ball in the bathtub and just watch what happens!

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