How to exercise with your cat and get fit

How to exercise with your cat and get fit - woman playing with cat

Cats, just like dogs and humans, require exercise to stay fit and healthy. However, it can be difficult for cat owners to know when to play with their cats or what kind of exercise they need. Read on to learn:

  • How to exercise your cat
  • How to incorporate your cat into your exercise routine
  • How much exercise a cat needs
  • How to know if your cat wants to play
  • Why exercise is important for cats

A large percentage of U.S. and Canadian house cats are overweight. An overweight cat is more likely to develop chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. While a healthy diet is the best way to get your cat to lose weight, daily exercise will help them stay at a healthy weight and develop a bond with you. The activity will be good for you too!

How do you exercise an indoor cat?

Cats require multiple types of enrichment to stay happy and healthy, including different kinds of toys and playtime. Providing a variety of toys and activities will help keep your cat interested. You can try:

  • Laser pointers
  • Kick toys
  • Batting toys
  • Feather wands
  • Scratching posts and towers
  • Food puzzles
  • Perches and cat trees
  • Clicker training
  • Leashed walks
  • Exercise wheels

Toys that encourage natural predatory behavior are usually the most beneficial.  Running, chasing, pouncing, and catching are instinctive behaviors and essential for feline well-being. Feeding your cat meals from foraging toys is also a great strategy. You can encourage your cat to exercise and play by rolling or tossing toys near them, putting catnip on posts and towers, using low-calorie or healthy treats in puzzles, or using fun wands and toys. You can keep it simple with some DIY toys and puzzles! Never underestimate the power of a fun cardboard box. Different cats will prefer different toys, so try a variety and learn how to properly use cat toys. Leash walking is a great option for cats who are trained to tolerate a harness and enjoy being outside. Always keep your cat up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention to keep them safe indoors and on outdoor walks.

How can I exercise with my cat to stay fit?

Playtime with your cat can keep you healthy too! Try incorporating your cat into your home workout routine with:

  • Cat yoga
  • Squats holding your cat
  • Outdoor walks
  • Pushups with your cat on your back
  • Wall sits holding your cat
  • “Tail” chase - run with a string or wand and have your cat chase you

These fun physical activities will keep you and your cat healthy while providing bonding time. In addition, it will keep you moving without expensive gym fees!

How much exercise does a cat need?

The amount of activity a cat needs varies based on age and overall health.  “More is often better in terms of cat exercise,” states Dr. Jo Myers. In general, cats should get five to fifteen minutes of playtime multiple times a day. This stimulates a cat’s hunting instincts with short bursts of energy in between long periods of rest. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, so these times will be the best to successfully initiate play.

Always talk to your veterinarian before beginning an exercise routine or new activity. A cat living with a chronic health issue or an elderly cat may need less activity or different types of exercise than others. If your cat seems tired during play, allow them time to rest before playing again.

How do I know if my cat wants to play?

Your cat will let you know if they want to play. Learning about cat behavior cues will help. A cat will often follow you or rub on your legs when they want attention. Cats may also bat at your feet or roll over and show their stomach. Follow your cat’s lead and offer playtime and interaction frequently. Don’t take it personally if they aren’t always interested, and never try to force your cat to play as this may create a negative association with you and their toys.

When your cat wants to play, allow them to use natural behaviors freely. Scratching, biting, and kicking their toys, posts, and cat trees are normal and healthy behaviors. If your cat begins to scratch or bite at you, redirect them to one of their toys rather than punishing them or stopping play. If they persist, eliminate the option of biting or scratching you by leaving the room and closing the door behind you or putting your cat in a separate room. This will help your cat differentiate appropriate behavior with you from what they can do with their toys.

Why is exercise important for cats?

Regular exercise not only helps keep your cat’s heart, lungs, and muscles healthy but also stimulates their mind. In addition, playtime is an excellent way to bond with your cat while getting active yourself. Obesity is an ever-present problem with indoor cats. Combined with a healthy diet, ample playtime will help keep your cat at an ideal body weight. If you have questions about your cat’s weight or exercise, you can connect with an online vet near you.

FAQ - How to exercise with your cat and get fit

What exercises are suitable for cats?

Cats require different types of toys and enrichment to stay interested and active. Exercises and playtime using laser pointers, toys, and wands will initiate a cat’s prey drive and get them moving. Holding your cat while doing squats, wall sits, and push-ups are great exercises for you to do with your cat too.

Is it reasonable to exercise your cat?

Not only is it reasonable, it’s also necessary to exercise your cat. Exercise is crucial for a cat’s mental and physical health. It’s also a great way for cat owners to bond with their cats.

How much exercise does a cat need?

The amount of exercise a cat needs depends on their age and overall health. More exercise and playtime are often better. Kittens need more frequent playtime, while elderly cats or cats with chronic health conditions may need more rest in between activities. Follow your cat’s lead and provide ample opportunities for play. Always consult a veterinarian before starting an exercise program or new physical activity with your cat.

The Vetster Editorial Team is comprised of seasoned writers and communicators dedicated to elevating stories about Vetster, pets and their owners.
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