Thursday, January 8, 2015

How to Encourage Your Cat to Exercise

With the start of the New Year, many people make resolutions to exercise more, eat healthier, or lose weight.  Not only is exercise beneficial for people, however, it's also beneficial for your cat.  So why not resolve to help your cat exercise daily as well?

Benefits of Exercise for Cats

Cats benefit tremendously from getting regular exercise.  

  • According to PetMD, exercise helps keep a cat's muscles strong and toned.
  • Exercise helps kitties maintain a healthy body weight.
  • It aids in keeping a feline's mind sharp and active.
  • Playtime offers an opportunity to strengthen the cat-human bond.
  • Relieves boredom.
  • According to Doctors Foster and Smith, playtime can reduce anxiety.  Anxiety and stress are as harmful for cats as they are for humans, and a stressed cat may develop behavior problems, such as urine marking or aggression.
How Long Should My Cat Exercise?

It is generally recommended that cats exercise (play) for 10-15 minutes twice a day.  Cats love routine, so schedule play sessions at regular times throughout the day, and stick to that schedule as much as possible.  Wake up 15 minutes earlier and have one play session with your kitty before you go to work.  Have another play session before you go to bed.  

If you have a kitten or young adult cat, he or she may initiate play sessions with you.  However, it may be a little harder to get older or overweight cats interested in playing regularly.  In these situations, you can start with short play sessions, lasting only a few minutes, and slowly increase the duration of playtime as you find which interactive toys most interest your cat.

How Can I Encourage My Cat in Exercise/Play?

Toys that activate a cat's natural instinct to hunt are typically a good bet for playtime.  Fishing pole toys with feathers, mice, or bugs on the end of the string stimulate a cat's hunting instincts.  Around here, Milita loves Neko Flies.  

Some kitties enjoy chasing the little red dot (laser pointer).  Just be sure that you don't shine the light directly into your kitty's eyes.  

Your kitty may also enjoy chasing crinkle balls or wadded up balls of paper around the house.  Empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls also make fun toys.

Cat trees and condos also encourage cats to exercise.  Not only do the multiple platforms on cat trees provide opportunities for your cat to climb and jump, the scratching posts on the tree encourage your kitty to scratch, stretching his or her muscles.

You can use string to attach cat toys to the bottom of the tree's platforms for your feline to bat at as well.  It's best to take the stringed toys down when you won't be around to supervise your cat, though, because if swallowed, strings can cause gastrointestinal blockages.  

Another fun idea to engage your cat in play is to use boxes and cat tunnels to build your kitty an obstacle course.  Use a favorite fishing pole toy to guide your cat through the obstacle course, and give him or her a reward for completing it.

It may take a little trial-and-error to figure out which interactive toys or activities interest your cat, but the end result is definitely worth it.  By encouraging your cat to exercise or play, you are benefiting your kitty's physical and mental health.

How do you encourage your cat to exercise or play?  Please share your experiences with us in the comments section!


  1. Once Binga and Boodie got to know me, I got them exercising a LOT! Neither of them is overweight, so they were ready to dive right in. Even though they are far from kittens (Binga turned 14 last August and Boodie will be 14 in May), they have been really fun to play with.

  2. I have been telling my mum in-law this about her cat ,she never does it keeps forgetting even though she has the Da Bird toy to use,xx Rachel

  3. We exercise by chasing each other around the house.

  4. guys...we like runnin frum, N gettin in two... tissue paper N groceree bagz.... itz like be best sound ever !!

    heerz two a warm, walleye, whitefish week oh end !! ♥♥♥

  5. Mum plays with us every morning and every evening, and one more time during the week-end ! And we love to play together, we call each other for play time ! Purrs

  6. We have a regularly scheduled playtime every night at 9:00!

  7. We chase each other, Pipo boxes the dog with lightening fast smacky paws, and they love the red dot...and wand toys.