Exercise routines and play time for cats: 7 ideas to get them moving!
Domestic cats that never go outside need to do regular exercise to avoid the risk of obesity. In addition, they need mental stimulation to avoid falling into the trap of boredom. It’s normal for cats to sleep lots throughout the day. However, this doesn’t mean that when they’re awake, they don’t need to do anything. If cats don’t have much to do, they get bored. This can lead to them developing destructive behaviours. For this reason, experts recommend something called “environmental enrichment”. This involves implementing all kind of ways to spark your cat’s interest, allowing them to interact with the environment, get some exercise, keep their mind active and control stress.
There are lots of ways to get a cat up and moving and enrich their environment. For example:
- If they let you, you could put your cat on a lead and take them for a walk. However, make sure it doesn’t cause them any stress, they are well trained, and that there are no risks outdoors, such as dogs.
- If your cat is inclined to hunt, there is a huge variety of toys on the market, or you could even make one yourself. Toys that feed your cat’s hunting instincts include: mouse-shaped toys, paper balls (never use tin foil as your cat could swallow it and experience digestive problems), fishing rods made with a stick, a long string with something hanging on it, feathers… You can let your imagination run free here, as long as you are careful your cat doesn’t swallow any small objects.
- You can also buy battery-operated toys that move on their own so the cat will chase them.
- Cats love cardboard boxes! If you put a few boxes in a room, your cat will play with them for hours, running in and out of them.
- Cats are also very greedy and are highly motivated by food. For this reason, they are also prone to obesity. If your cat is on the larger side, instead of feeding them out of their bowl, you can use an interactive toy that has the food inside it, requiring the cat to exercise and think in order to get their reward.
- You can find these toys on the market or make them yourself, using materials such as cardboard and paper. Always make sure to use materials which are biodegradable, non-toxic, and that won’t cause any intestinal blockage if your cat were to swallow them. You must always be careful when using thin strings or ropes, and make sure to always keep an eye on what your cat is getting up to. If your cat were to swallow this kind of toy, it could cause serious intestinal problems, so it’s better if you keep the string in your possession at all times.
- Build your very own fun house! This is a must for any home that wants their pets to be happy. Cats feel safe in high-up places where they feel they can control their territory. Why not take advantage of wall space, and build shelves at various heights? Your cat will love being able to climb up and down and watch from above. You can also add other elements that encourage them to climb: ropes or nets made with natural fabrics, boxes to hide in, and beds for them to lie down and rest.
Remember: if your cat has any health problems, we always recommend taking them to the vet for a consultation. They will be able to advise you if there is any type of exercise that should be avoided to reduce the risk of further injury, e.g. jumping. Your vet will also be able to help you design an exercise routine which is personalised to the age and physical condition of your beloved kitty. Always consult with your vet!