5 Fun Ways To Exercise Your Cat

Having a cat as a pet is a low-maintenance job, only requiring a few routine practices to keep your furbaby happy and healthy. Between feeding, grooming, taking care of the litter box, and other small tasks that are required of a cat owner, many cat owners forget one of the most important things that they need to do; exercise their kitty! Cats are very close to their wild ancestors, and are therefore built to run, leap, and stalk every day. Did you know that the biggest health problem for domestic cats is obesity? Here, we’re going to discuss some easy and hassle-free ways to introduce more exercise into your feline’s day.

Playful Kitten1. Playtime: Many cat owners discount the benefit of simply playing with their cat each day. This is one of the most stimulating events in an indoor cat’s day, and you can make the most of it by encouraging interactive playtime that gets your cat up on their feet. The best type of toys aimed at getting your cat to exercise are string toys. String toys typically have a plastic rod at one end with a string attached to a feather, stuffed animal, or anything else that might attract a cat.

When playing with your cat with a string toy, make sure to encourage jumping, leaping, and running. This could mean walking around your house with the toy trailing you, or teasing your cat within close range in a manner that will cause them to leap and stalk. By doing this for 20 minutes a day, you are satisfying much of your cat’s desire for playtime and their required exercise quota. This will also help keep your cat calm, as you can initiate play when your cat gives you visual cues that they’re in a frisky mood. If a cat is in “play mode,” their pupils will be enlarged, they will roll their hips as if getting ready to pounce, they’ll hide and stalk you, and they might just get a little too handsy with their claws.

2. Electronic Toy: There are many toys out there aimed at keeping cats entertained without the effort of a person necessary. If you’re out of the house most of the day, or if you aren’t able to give your cat manual interactive play, purchasing an electronic toy will solve many of your problems. There are many types of interactive play toys at all price points, so you won’t have to spend much more than you would on a regular toy to get the benefit of automatic play.

There are electronic toys that simulate a stalk-able rodent, either on a track or free-range. These toys mimic the movements of a real rodent, thereby creating curious and exciting interactions for your kitty. Another option is one that basically simulates a string toy play. These will either have a floor base, or a wall installation that will get your cat jumping with joy. There are also electronic laser toys out there that will drive your cat absolutely bonkers by projecting lasers in random patterns throughout the day. Many of these toys come with timers, or you can attach a plugin one to a timed cord so that they are only on for part of the day.

Brown tabby cat catching a toy flying at her3. Fetch: If you don’t think that cats like to play fetch, think again! Many cats can be taught to play fetch, regardless of what age they are. Teaching a cat to play fetch is a similar to how you would teach a dog to play fetch; with positive reinforcement and repetition. We’ve got an in-depth article about how to teach your cat to play fetch right here. Basically, you’ll combine catnip, your cat’s favorite toy, and treat rewards along with lots of practice and you’ll eventually have a kitty that can’t help but ask you to play fetch constantly.

Once you’ve trained your cat long enough with treat rewards, they’ll eventually play fetch with you just for the fun of it. If you’ve got the space for it, teaching your cat to play fetch could be the perfect way to introduce a bit more exercise into your cat’s life. Playing fetch for at least 20 minutes per day, or as often as your cat requests it by bringing their fetch toy to you, could be just the exercise solution that your cat needs.

4. Feeding Toy: One great way to amp up your cat’s activity level and slow down their eating pace is by purchasing an interactive feeding toy. There are many different versions of interactive feeding toys, but all have the same goals. One type of feeding toy is a puzzle feeder. This can be purchased, or made simply out of an empty water bottle. The puzzle feeder can be used for full meals or just treats. You’ll simply cut a kibble-sized hole on the side of the water bottle and fill the bottle up with an appropriate portion of food. This will drive your cat mad, and they’ll spend lots of time pushing the bottle around the room in attempts to get another piece of food to fall out.

There are also food bowls that you can purchase that are designed to force your cat to forage for their food. These feeders will have different openings that you can spread the food throughout. Cats love to look through tiny little openings, and will be motivated to find more kibble throughout the feeder. Many also make it necessary for your cat to use their paws to receive a meal, turning dinner time into an adventure and bringing your cat back to their predatory nature.

"What're you lookin' at?"

“What’re you lookin’ at?”

5. Walking: It may sound silly, but teaching your cat to walk on a leash is entirely possible, and can be a fun bonding experience for you and your indoor cat. With time and patience, you can teach almost any cat to walk on a leash, or at least be comfortable enough with a leash to go outside. This feat is easier to teach when the cat is younger, but adult cats can learn all the same. We’ve got an in-depth guide to teaching your cat to walk on a leash right here.

Teaching your cat to walk on a leash takes time and patience, and you’ll need to take time to help your cat get used to walking around with a harness on. Eventually, you’ll be able to attach a leash and get your kitty outside. They may never walk faithfully like a dog, but you can at least get them trotting around in the great outdoors. This form of exercise is totally natural for a cat and can be a great time for you and all your neighbors that will forever know you as the person who walks their cat.

All of these are great ways to bring exercise back into your cat’s daily routine, but with most of the options, you’ll have to make somewhat of an effort as well. Remember that keeping your cat healthy on a daily basis will save you costly veterinarian bills, as well as elongating your cat’s life while preserving their good health. Exercising your cat is a key part of being a cat owner, and you can start any time, so stop stalling, and start playing!