Caitlin UltimoHealth / Pet Fitness

Yes, You Can Make Your Cat Exercise

It’s a common misconception that cats don’t need exercise the way dogs do, but in fact, your fluffy friend needs to be active to stay in tip-top shape. Indoor cats can easily become overweight if not encouraged to play often. And too much weight can have a detrimental effect on your pet’s overall health and well-being.

Kittens

Young cats and kittens have loads of energy! Aside from obvious weight and health issues that can occur if they don’t exercise, your cute kitty could display behavioral problems, too, if not given a healthy outlet for all that energy.

Scratchers are great options for all cats, but especially for younger felines who may still be learning where in the house is appropriate to scratch. Scratching is a natural instinct, so give your pet an acceptable spot to scratch rather than punishing her when she scratches the couch or rug. This is the best way to train her to keep her claws off the furniture and other household items. Try rubbing a little catnip on the scratching pad or scratching post to encourage your kitty to scratch the appropriate place. And you may need to experiment with different materials. Some cats like cardboard while others prefer sisal or carpet.

Smart cat toys like the Bergan Turbo Scratcher combine a basic cardboard scratch pad with a fun toy—a track around the pad that holds a small ball. Your pal can bat, push and chase the ball around the track without it ever getting lost! This toy can provide hours of entertainment and keep high-energy kitties engaged, even when their humans are busy or away from home.

Cats of all ages and activity levels will probably also enjoy cat trees or kitty condos with built-in scratching posts and different levels to climb, jump on and explore.

Cats are hunters at heart and tend to prefer games that appeal to their natural instincts. A laser pointer or furry toy mice can give your fluffy friend something safe to stalk and pounce on around the house. Peek-a-boo games, like this toy box, also allow your kitten to practice stalking and hunting and can provide endless entertainment.

Older and Overweight Cats

Elderly or overweight cats may not be as excited to exert themselves as they were in their younger days. You may need to work a little harder to encourage your older cat to play or get him interested in a new toy, but it’s well worth your time and effort. Even 10-15 minutes of daily activity can have a positive impact on your pet’s health. If your cat gets tired easily, start with just a few minutes of play and gradually increase the time you spend playing together each day until he’s more used to being active.

While kittens may jump to attack toys like fake mice, you may need to toss one around in front of an older cat for a while before catching his interest. Teaser toys can also be good for older cats, as they simulate chasing and capturing elusive prey. Try a toy with feathers, bright colors or dangling toys at the end to make sure you catch your kitty’s eye.

If your fluffy furball is reluctant to play, choose toys infused with catnip, which is irresistible to most kitties, to pique your cat’s interest and encourage playtime. Catnip can be sprinkled over items like scratchers, cat trees and towers, or sewn into soft toys like mice to stimulate your cat.

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