How to Encourage Your Cat to Exercise

When cats are young, it’s usually harder to stop them than it is to get them moving. Kittens require little encouragement to race around the house at top speed, often wiping out at the corners. (Raise your hand if you stifled a laugh in these moments. We did, too.)

As cats mature, they slow down. They are more likely to be found observing the commotion from a high perch than to be engaged in it. This isn’t true of all cats. Some remain consistently active as they age. Regardless, exercise is an important part of any cat’s health program.

Besides strengthening the body, exercise stimulates the mind. A stagnant cat is not only more likely to be overweight and unhealthy, but they’ll also be prone to poor mental health. To keep your cat functioning at the best possible level, we’ve put together a guide to encouraging exercise.

Create the Right Environment

You can promote your cat’s activity simply by fostering the right environment. Include products like tall cat trees, especially ones with hanging toys. Install perches into the wall or attach them to the window with a removable perch. Even a small scratching post can get your cat up and moving. All of these tools encourage your cat to jump, climb, and explore.

Consider having your cat “work” for meals. This could be as simple as placing the food dish on a different level of the house, requiring your pet to go up or down the stairs. You can apply this same logic to the location of the litter box or a favorite bed.

Play with Your Cat

Now, for the fun part. Cats often respond well to activity when it involves playtime. Pick up a laser pointer and enjoy the entertainment of your cat chasing after the red dot. It’s tricky to convince a disinterested cat that something is worth playing with, so keep an eye on anything that catches your cat’s attention at home. Maybe your cat has no enthusiasm for a ball of yarn, but lives for attacking an egg carton.

Other household items to experiment with include:

  • Toilet and paper towel rolls
  • Strings (shoelaces, yarn)
  • Boxes
  • Ping-pong balls
  • Paper bags

To keep your cat playing when you’re not around, try interactive toys like an automatic laser pointer. Battery activated toys, such as rotating feathers or even electronic fish, are an easy way to keep your cat’s mind occupied. It’s helpful to use toys that trigger a cat’s instinctive desire to hunt prey.

Go for a Walk

You may raise an eyebrow at the idea of taking your feline friend for a walk around the block. In truth, many cats do not respond well to a harness and leash, even with a careful introduction.

However, if your cat takes to it, going for a walk is a wonderful way to energize both the mind and body. Some cats love being able to get out in the fresh air and get a closer look at what they’ve been spying on from the window.

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