Just like for humans, exercise is important for cats too! You probably already know the importance of getting enough exercise for yourself, but did you know that regular exercise can significantly improve the physical and emotional health of your cat as well? About 40% of cats in the United States are considered obese, a risk factor that contributes to many of the same serious diseases that affect people, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Consistent doses of physical exercise can not only help your cat stay fit, but mentally stimulated as well. You should build up the length and intensity of your cat exercise sessions slowly, after you get a clean bill of health from your vet. As an added bonus, staying active with your cat can help you stay in shape as well! Cats have a bad reputation as lazy pets who love to sleep all day, but many times they are simply bored or not getting enough attention. Instead of just leaving out some kitty toys, with your doctor’s approval, try to actively participate in your cat’s exercise session so you can reap the benefits as well! Our friend over at Petcentric have some great ideas for ways you and your cat can exercise together, which we’ve included below… (ps. Indoor cats can especially benefit from regulated periods of activity, since they typically don’t expend as many calories as their outdoor counterparts. Given indoor cats don’t have an opportunity to fulfill their natural hunting instincts, vigorous bouts of playtime can go a long way in keeping them happy and satisfied. )
- Invest in a laser pointer. Most pet stores and home improvement stores sell these inexpensively. Most cats will love chasing the red glowing “bug”, and you will have just as much fun watching the chase! Just make sure not to shine it directly into your kitty’s eyes, and switch to a toy on a string that they can catch at the end of your play session.
- Design a “playground” for your cat. Cats are just as happy playing with everyday objects as expensive toys. Paper shopping bags without handles and cardboard boxes can make great play areas for cats who love to actively explore. We love this video of a man who built a wonderful and easy huge cardboard cat tower for his feline friend Rufus.
- Go “fishing.” You can buy fishing pole toys designed for cats, but save yourself some money by just tying a favorite toy to the end of some fishing line or string. Move around and cast the toy back and forth with jerky movements, while your cat goes nuts. Your heart will be pumping too as you try to keep up!
- Play ball! Anything that moves across your floor, like a ping pong ball, will probably pique your cat’s interest. Cats are naturally suited for short, intense bursts of activity, so keep the game moving as quickly as possible to get your cat’s heart rate up. After play time, pick up any small objects that may be choking hazards.
- Go for a walk on leash in a safe area. Many people don’t realize that cats are capable of being trained to “walk” on a leash (or rather, they walk, you follow). Just make sure you get a leash and harness specifically designed for a cat, and that it fits securely. Also, choose a safe outdoor area, such as your fenced yard, to avoid the risk of stray or off-leash dogs. You do need to TRAIN your cat to walk safely on a harness, find out how in our article: How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash!
Just a few minutes a day can go a long way in keeping your cat happy and healthy. And remember, the more you are moving along with your cat, the more exercise you are getting as well!
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