Many veterinarians recommend cat workouts to keep cats healthy well into his old age. And though a cat won’t exercise as readily as a dog will, there are a few strategies that will help you keep your cat active and mobile.
Try these 10 fun cat exercise tips:
- Pair up exercise partners. Since a cat won’t respond to your requests to play as easily as a dog might, here’s a simple solution to ensure that felines get their needed cat exercise: Start with two cats. “A pair of cats who get along well will get plenty of exercise through their own wrestling and chasing games.” says Dr. Ken Simpson, adding that it’s better to get two cats at the same time than to introduce a second cat later on.
- Try a cat tower. The multi-tiered “cat towers” sold online and in pet stores are another good way to ensure that your cat will have plenty of places to play and areas to climb for a good cat workout. Susan Nelson, DVM, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, suggests placing small treats in different parts of the tower to encourage climbing and playing.
- Keep plenty of toys around. Because cats tend to keep to themselves much more than dogs, the best strategy for cat workouts is to give them plenty of options in the form of toys. These don’t have to be expensive toys from the pet store, either. Dr. Simpson says that yarn, rope, ping pong balls, empty thread spools, and straws are just a few of the everyday household objects that you can use as toys to encourage cat exercise.
- Create a hockey rink. To make things even more interactive and fun, Simpson advises putting a ball in a large cardboard box or the bathtub to create an instant “hockey rink” for your cat. As the ball goes flying off the walls (and, of course, the cat goes flying after it), you’ll get some laughs and your cat will get some much-needed exercise.
- Have fun with lasers. Speaking of laughs, few things will entertain you more — or have your cat moving faster — than a laser pointer on the end of a pen or even one of the new leveling tools. “Laser toys are often good entertainment, but follow it up with a real toy the cat can catch to avoid fixation and frustration over never being able to catch the light beam,” says Simpson.
- Give your cat a wand. For great cat exercise and a good follow-up to the laser, says Simpson, is one of the flexible wand-style toys with a feather, mouse, or other diversion on the far end. “Interactive play with a wand or fishing-pole type toy is fabulous exercise, usually quite funny, and extremely satisfying for the big hunter in your little cat,” says Dr. Simpson. “You can make it more challenging by running the toy up and over the sofa or up and down stairs and around corners to increase the exercise intensity.”
- Use catnip wisely. Catnip is a useful tool for getting your cat to exercise, but Simpson says it’s best to use it only in the proper situations. “Remember that not all cats respond to catnip, and of those that do, a few may become aggressive from catnip,” he says. “Also, never give catnip before a stressful event, such as a trip to the vet. Your vet will thank you!”
- Tempt your cat with treats. Cori Gross, DVM, a VPI Pet Insurance field veterinarian near Seattle, says that you can always count on cats responding to treats, so she advises putting treats in different parts of the house to give her something to search for. You can also, try a puzzle toy, which is simply a pet toy that your cat will have to knock around in order to get the treat. “You can make your own by taping together the top and bottom of a small box, cutting a small hole in the side, and placing a few treats inside,” says Dr. Gross. “The cat will have to bat and knock the toy around quite a bit before the treats will fall out.”
- Get your cat on a treadmill. Believe it or not, you can actually teach your cat to run on a treadmill for exercise. It’s best to start when they are young, have lots of energy to burn, and are easy to entice with a toy. Always, always, always supervise your pet on the treadmill!
- Go outside. Finally, with the proper training and the right equipment, you can entice your cat to walk with a leash and a harness outside just like dogs do. “Leash-walking is great if you can get your cat to tolerate the harness and lead,” says Simpson. “Make sure the harness fits properly and can’t be wriggled out of. Young cats are easier to train, but in all cases it takes patience and perseverance.”
With some simple ingenuity on your part, your cat will get needed exercise and have a good time.