I get almost as excited as the cats when watching them in full play. Chasing toys, bouncing off walls, climbing to the top of the shelf and pouncing on shadows are all great cat exercises, and a blast to watch and entice. With over half of our companion felines being overweight, according to a 2008 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, getting involved in cat exercises is very important to keeping them healthy and happy!
When attempting to get your beloved kitty to get a move on, keep in mind the kinds of things they would do if they were still hunting in a field or forest. It can be normal for a cat to get bored with a game after only a couple of minutes, so be prepared to switch things up and do multiple short duration cat exercises.
- Hunting – The hunting instinct is completely separate from a cats need to eat and so even an overweight or full cat can be enticed to hunt though sometimes it will take some experimentation to find the right kind of game. Toys that are good to use in hunting are strings, milk jug caps, laser pointers, wands with mice and/or feathers on them, etc…
- Stalking – Provide your cat with hiding places to attack a toy from. Playing around furniture and providing boxes and crinkle tunnels are great ways of doing this.
- Pounce – Occasionally rest the prey in places that your cat will leap at it. Along a wall and below them on the floor are enticing places.
- Chase – “The thrill of the chase” can really get a kitty going. As long as they are not constantly chasing the uncatchable. A favorite game of chase can also be achieved with a ball or milk jug cap in a box or tub.
- Catch – Let your cat win now and then. Maybe even give them a bit of a treat as a reward. This will help make them excited to play again next time.
- Search – A few cats can only be stimulated to remove themselves from the sunny window perch by food. If your cat is like this then hiding their food in multiple areas, including puzzle toys they have to manipulate in order to get the food out is a great way to get the initial movements started. You’ll probably find that as they get a bit more movement in their daily routine you can slowly encourage other activities.
- Wrestling – Many cats do well with a buddy to wrestle around with. This can be another cat or I’ve had great luck with supervised play between my ferrets and cats. It’s not advisable for you to be the wrestling buddy as human skin tends to not handle cat claws or teeth very well and those kind of injuries can make you very sick.
- Scratching – Scratching is an instinctual need. It sharpens claws, leaves scent marks in their territory and allows them to stretch back and shoulder muscles required in hunting and climbing. Providing appropriate scratching materials and rewarding your cat for using them, either with treats or play is the best way to save your furniture.
- Hiding – Cats know they aren’t the only or even biggest predators out there. Giving them comfortable hiding spots helps make them feel secure and can also give them key places from which to initiate cat exercises with you.
- Climbing – Cats have clavicles and muscles that dogs don’t, that they evolved so they can climb and jump. Providing your cats with places they can use these muscles will help keep them happier and healthier in the long run.
Keep these cat exercises in mind and use the basic principles to spice up your cats life and keep them active, healthy, and happy. If you have a favorite game or toy then please post a comment telling us about them.