Does my cat really need to exercise?
If you’re wondering if cats really need exercise or not, the answer is a resounding YES! In short, an exercise regime helps keep cats leaner and healthier with stronger muscles to support their joints, more energetic, calmer (through spending pent-up energy) and of course entertained. Cats of all ages benefit from exercise.
So, how much exercise do cats need?
In reality, the amount of daily exercise your cat should get really depends on the individual. Take the following into consideration:
- Lifestage: expect kittens and seniors to have special needs regarding exercise and energy levels. The bottom line with both: support healthy development/maintenance without over-doing things. Both age groups will need some serious rest to recharge. Adult cats in the prime of life (after growth has stopped and before age 7) are best suited for more rigorous exercise and activities.
- Current condition: If your kitty is a true couch potato, she’ll need to get fit gradually before she can be expected to perform any super-kitty stunts – always consult your vet before starting new exercise regimes!
- Energy levels: Does your cat resemble a super-charged engine or a statue? Cats with loads of energy will need different levels of exercise (and different types) compared to natural couch potatoes. If your cat is in less-than-perfect shape now, you can expect her energy levels to pick up a bit once she begins an exercise regime!
- Breed: Believe it or not, breed makes a difference in cats as well as dogs! Some cat breeds (especially hybrid breeds like the ever more popular Savannah Cat) are just plain active, while others prefer to reserve their energy for what really matters – finding sunny spots to nap in! If you are unsure of your cat’s breed, just go by her natural interests to determine what she may like, and how much variety she seems to enjoy. It’s always fun to just try out a few things and see what kind of exercise your cat enjoys best!
How to exercise a cat
There are two basic rules for exercising cats, no matter how notoriously nap-inclined they may be.
- Make it a game! Going with your cat’s own instincts (does she prefer to play-hunt flying things, or is she more of a bug-chaser?) to create games and keep play time active is the best way to exercise a cat. Some cats love vigorous climbing, adventurous leash-walks or running wheels for cats, while others prefer to leap after a beam of light or chase a toy mouse for a few minutes in the safety and comfort of their own living room. Find out what your cat loves best by getting creative and experimenting!
- Mix it up! Variety is the spice of life – and this certainly holds true for cats, despite their innate love of daily routine. The best way to keep your cat both physically and mentally young and agile is to create a mix of new and routine – think routine daily play sessions mixed with one new or less routine activity a week, such as a rotation of novel toys that each only appear once every few weeks, or a new game. Try interactive puzzles or a feeding ball so that she’ll have to “hunt” for her kibbles, or start pinning your favourite games for cats so you can keep them in mind for future. Don't be afraid to DIY your own cat toys using cardboard boxes or paper bags, corks, or other cat-friendly materials; just be sure to supervise your cat carefully with DIY toys.