How to Get Your Cat to Exercise More
It’s easy to think that cats are sedentary creatures. After all, they spend most of their day napping and lounging around. But cats are meant to be hunters, and they’re actually one of the most successful predators in history. They’re just very efficient and patient animals. Cats rest most of the day to conserve energy for when they hunt. However, domesticated cats often do not need to hunt.
All cats, whether it’s big cats in the wild or a British Shorthair for sale online, must get a certain amount of exercise each day to stay fit and healthy. House cats will often forgo this exercise because they lack the opportunity or motivation. Which is when their owner should intervene. Getting your cat to exercise more can help prevent both physical and mental health issues down the line, as a well-exercised cat will be both healthier and happier.
Ways to Get Your Cat to Exercise More
The best and easiest way to get your cat to exercise more is to engage them in play that triggers their natural hunting instincts. Almost any game that involves them stalking their ‘prey’ will get them interested. There are, however, a couple of special guidelines that are good to follow:
- Try to get them to exercise when they’re most active – Cats are crepuscular, a word that means active at dawn or dusk. Cats will be most alert and receptive to exercise during these times.
- Have short sessions. Most cats are pretty smart, which means that they can get bored easily. Shorter exercise sessions may work better than having marathon playtime. Most cats will be happy with 10 to 15 minutes of exercise a couple of times throughout the day.
- Listen to your cat – If your cat doesn’t want to play or if they’ve had enough exercise, they’ll let you know. Either they’ll turn away and not want to engage, or they’ll be visibly tired and breathing heavily. In both cases, it’s time to give your cat rest, as making them too tired can be detrimental to their health.
Cat Exercise Activities to Try
Cats naturally want to chase and hunt birds, and the easiest way to replicate one is with a feather toy. There are a wide variety of affordable feather toys available. Also, you can DIY one with a stick, a string, and some feathers from a craft store. The key here is to think like a bird – you can’t simply wave the feather toy in front of your cat’s face and expect them to hunt it. Try to imagine how a bird would move, and replicate that with the motion of the feather toy.
Send it skittering across the ground, then raise it quickly into the air as though it’s taking flight. Move-in unpredictable ways, so that your cat is challenged both mentally and physically. A short play session of this is enough to tire out most cats.
Balls of string
Much like the feather toy, the prey drive of a cat seems to be triggered by a string being pulled along the floor. Perhaps it resembles a snake or lizard that they want to hunt. So like the feather toy, you’ll have to replicate the movements of the prey. You can be creative with how you’ll get the string to move. Make use of your home environment to recreate situations that your cat would encounter in the wild. Perhaps the string can pass between sofa cushions to replicate the prey hiding in between rocks, Also, you can make the string leap between a cat tower and a soft chair. The options really are endless.
Hidden treat games
Cats aren’t just hunters, they’re opportunistic scavengers as well. In the wild, they’ll get their food however they can, and part of that involves seeking out any small scrap of food hidden in their surroundings. This game is as simple as periodically hiding treats or kibble around the house. Check every so often whether your cat has found them, and avoid letting your cat see you when you go to hide their prize.
Cats love to climb, but owners typically don’t want kitties to be climbing bookshelves or furniture. This is why cat towers are a good investment. It gives the cat a safe place where they can climb to their heart’s content.
It’s not very common for cats to be put on a leash and taken for a walk. However, this can be great exercise for most house cats. They will naturally resist things being put on them, but they can be trained to accept leashes and harnesses if you’ve gained their trust. Taking your cat for a short walk gets them out of the house and exposes them to lots of interesting experiences, Allowing them to engage all their senses and providing them with crucial mental stimulation. The key here is to go slow. Cats that have never been taken for a walk may be skittish at first. Do not try to force them to go further than they want to go may just make them fear the walks. Do short sessions of walking and gradually lengthen the walks once the cat warms up to the idea.