Physical exercise is just as important for our feline friends than it is ourselves. Household cats have to have the opportunity to hunt, play, scratch and run, as it stimulates them mentally and keeps them from developing unwanted behaviours down the track.
What’s more, an active cat is one that avoids health problems like obesity. Cats who are unable to exercise are at greater risk of obesity, and this, unfortunately, leads to a lower life expectancy.
So, the best thing to do is ensure they have the opportunity to exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Luckily, one of the best ways for your cat to exercise is through playtime! This can involve having a couple of 15 minute play sessions each day or even setting up the home in a way that encourages them to play by themselves.
Playtime with your cat encourages a healthy lifestyle but also forms a bond of companionship between you and your feline friend. What’s more, playing with your cat is good for your mental health: it reduces stress and encourages positivity, whilst allowing for you to exercise yourself!
You’ve got them the best food, you’ve set up a home play space, you’ve been online to compare cat insurance – now it’s time to find out about some of the exercises that they will love and that will also keep them fit.
1. Playing with toys
Cats love to run, jump, pounce and play, but they all play in ways that are suitable for them. Some cats enjoy chasing after their “prize”, whilst others enjoy jumping at toys, scratching posts, even shadows! They might even have a favourite toy they love playing with, and there are many to choose from: cat balls, bird-like toys, feathers on sticks, wand toys and motorised toys.
The thing is to find the game that they like the most by observing your cat’s playing. Do they like scratching? Well, a scratching post is perfect for that. Do they like pouncing on their toy? Then a motorised, mouse/bird-like toy is perfect.
It’s always a good idea to supervise your cat when they have a new toy as well as avoid toys that are sharp, have string that could be ingested or that are small enough to swallow. Wand toys and those with string should be kept away from your cat when not in play time. Finally, laser toys might seem like a good idea, but they actually just frustrate cats, as they never end up catching their prey – something that’s important for their play time!
2. Hide & seek
Dogs aren’t the only ones who love a good game of hide and seek – it’s great for cats, too! All you need are some hiding spots, like cardboard boxes with some spots for hiding and jumping in and out of with ease. You can encourage the game by doing a bit of hiding yourself – just be sure to peep out occasionally so that they know you are playing and haven’t just ditched them!
3. The cat tower
A multi-level cat tower is great for cats both physically and mentally. It encourages them to climb, they can scratch at it and they have to put a little effort in to reach higher levels. One of the best ways to encourage their climbing is by putting a toy or small treats up the tower so that they have to go after them.
You might also want to position the tree near open floor space to give your cat a run up before jumping onto it. Cat trees don’t have to be Rolls Royce standard – even inexpensive cat trees and towers can be made from cardboard boxes with windows to look out from and entry/exit points.