Everything you need to know about exercising your cat

If you’re a cat owner, it’s so important to make sure they’re getting plenty of exercise so that they remain fit and healthy well into their later years.

But as anyone who’s ever owned a cat can tell you, trying to get them to exercise when all they’d rather do is snooze can be tricky.

Sadly, cat obesity is on the rise, with 5% of cat owners reporting that their cats have put on weight during lockdown. Obesity in cats can lead to a series of health problems including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis, which is why it’s so important that owners do everything they can to ensure their cat is healthy and exercising regularly.

Plus, as well as benefiting their physical health, daily exercise is also essential for a cat’s mental health. Just like with dogs, a bored cat is an unhappy cat.

A fat black cat lying on the floor

How much exercise do cats need?

In the wild, cats would get all the exercise they need from hunting. They love to chase and pounce, so playing with them is a great way to get exercise into their daily life.

Every cat is different so there are no exact guidelines about how much exercise cats need but as a general rule, it’s recommended they get 15 minutes of play twice a day.

Cats prefer short bursts of exercise with plenty of naps in between so if whilst you’re playing with your cat and they walk off, it probably means they’ve had enough for now.

Make sure your cat has all the right toys

Cats love to explore, so giving them a range of cat toys and activities will help to keep them interested and active.

Remember to keep your cat’s toys clean and throw them away if they get damaged. Getting them a new toy every now and again is a perfect treat, and much better for them than food.

Most cats love playing but especially with…

Things they can hit. Cats enjoy batting at light things that move easily across the floor. It’s important not to give them anything they can chew up or swallow.

Things they can chase around. Whether it’s a wind-up toy or a piece of string dragged across the floor, your cat’s natural hunting instincts will have them leaping off the sofa to play.

Things they can jump onto. Cats love to be up high so make sure there are safe surfaces and plenty of space for them to jump on and off to help burn extra calories.

Things they can climb into. As any cat owner knows, if they can fit, they will sit! So next time you have something delivered, make sure you save the box for your cat.

Things they can scratch. Scratching keeps a cat’s claws sharp and tones their shoulder and back muscles. Buy a scratching-post and encourage your cat to play with it rather than your furniture!

Encouraging your cat to play

Sometimes your cat can seem uninterested in playing with toys but that doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want to play – they just need a little encouragement!

Schedule your play sessions for hunting time. Cats are naturally more active at the beginning and end of the day as this is when they’d hunt in the wild. Try encouraging your cat to play with you at prime hunting times to get them active and feed them after you play, not before.

Keep play sessions short.  Remember that most cats prefer to play in short sessions and can get tired after 5-15 minutes. Short play sessions will help keep your cat engaged and stop them from getting bored.

Keep it interesting. Just like with humans, our cats can get bored if they play with the same toy all the time so try and keep your play sessions as varied as possible. Swapping between different versions of similar toys can be enough to get your cat excited again. You can even try making your own cat friendly toys at home to save on buying new ones all the time.

Use food puzzles. Some of our cats are very motivated by food. Try using treat balls and similar toys to feed some of their daily allowance. Just don’t forget to reduce the amount of food you give them in their regular meals slightly so they don’t put on weight.

Do you have any tips on exercising your cat that you’d like to share with the Pawfit community? Let us know by emailing PawfitPals@Pawfit.com or by getting in touch on social media.  

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