How to include your cat in your exercise routine

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How to include your cat in your exercise routine  - woman playing with cat

Exercising with your feline friend improves their physical fitness as well as your own. Regular exercise helps your cat maintain their physical and mental health as well as a healthy weight. Cat owners can easily exercise with their cats to remain healthy. Read on if you’ve ever wondered:

  • Why is regular exercise important?
  • What indoor exercises can I do with my cat?
  • Can cats exercise outdoors?
  • How can I get physically fit with my cat?

Many cats enjoy bonding with their owners through play, which can involve toys such as laser pointers and feather wands. Other cats may prefer adventuring through cardboard box mazes. Utilizing your cat’s toys, interests, and physical weight can help you develop a daily exercise routine that suits them.

Why is an exercise routine important?

Regular exercise is important not only for people but also for cats. “Implementing exercise into a cat’s daily routine helps to improve and maintain the health of a cat’s heart, lungs, muscles, and joints,” explains Dr. Jo Myers, a veterinarian at Vetster. “Providing plenty of exercise will also help keep a cat at a healthy weight, preventing obesity and its complications.” Exercising with a pet cat can also help improve your mental and physical health in similar ways.

In addition to improving your cat’s overall health, engaging in physical activity alongside you can provide essential bonding time. Regular exercise can also help improve your cat’s mental health by providing enrichment. Providing exercise and enrichment can potentially reduce a cat’s stress and destructive behaviors around the home.

How much daily exercise do cats need?

The exact amount of exercise a cat requires varies depending on age and overall health. In general, cats need five to fifteen minutes of exercise multiple times a day. Cats often play in short bursts of energy throughout the day. People, in general, need a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day. Since daily exercise is beneficial for both you and your cat, you can make your cat’s playtime a part of your daily routine.

How can I exercise with my cats indoors?

Most cat owners play with their cats indoors. Indoor physical playtime can include:

  • Running with a string or feather wand and allowing your cat to chase you
  • Getting down on the floor with your cat to play with their toys
  • Playing hide and seek

Cat toys such as laser pointers provide excellent exercise and allow your cat to tap into their hunting instincts. Building forts out of cardboard boxes can provide a place for your cat to explore safely, especially when their favorite treats are hidden inside. Scratching posts and mats are important for a cat’s physical and mental health. Cats who are especially energetic may also enjoy exercise wheels.

Your cat can also be an excellent addition to your own daily exercise. You can incorporate your cat into your own workout routine by:

  • Using your cat as a weight for wall sits, pushups, and planks
  • Doing cat yoga
  • Squatting while holding your cat

Quick indoor workouts are a great way to stay fit and spend quality time with your cat.

Can I exercise with my cat outside?

Some cats enjoy outdoor activities. If your cat prefers exercising outdoors, be aware that fences don’t provide enough protection, and keep your cat safely harnessed or leashed. Safely venturing outdoors with your indoor-only cat can provide them added enrichment so long as they tolerate precautionary measures. Outdoor exercises can include:

  • Leashed walks in parks, farmer’s markets, trails, around the yard, or at the pet store
  • Running with a secure cat stroller
  • Hiking with a cat backpack carrier

Many of these activities place cats in potentially stressful situations, such as unfamiliar surroundings and close proximity to dogs and groups of people. If your cat is uncomfortable with an activity, do not force them to participate.

When leash and harness training a cat, go slow and offer plenty of praise and tasty treats. This process may take several days or even weeks. Always keep a cat on parasite prevention and check for ticks after visiting wooded areas. An online vet can assist you in choosing the best parasite prevention for your cat and checking their body for ticks after an adventure outdoors.

How can I incorporate my cat into my daily workout?

Cats who enjoy being held can make excellent weights for exercises such as squats, wall sits, pushups, and planks. Their added weight helps the workout even if they are smaller than your usual weight. If they are comfortable outdoors and around dogs or other people, cats can enjoy outdoor hikes and walks using the proper safety equipment. Cat strollers and backpack carriers can also be used when running or hiking outdoors. Join your cat whenever they experience a burst of playful energy throughout the day by getting on the floor and playing with their toys or allowing them to chase you throughout your home.

Before adding a new exercise to your feline friend’s daily routine, talk with a vet to determine their overall fitness level. Cats with underlying health issues and senior cats may require adjusted exercise routines for their safety.

How can I tell if my cat wants to play?

Cats communicate that they want attention in many different ways. They may meow, follow their owners around, or rub against their owner’s legs. They may attempt to initiate play by batting at their owner’s feet or rolling to show their stomach. Biting, scratching, and kicking are normal behaviors during play. If your cat’s playful behaviors are too much, redirect these natural behaviors to a toy or scratching post instead of scolding them or stopping play. Never force your cat to play if they are uninterested or continue to play when they indicate they are done. Always follow your cat’s lead to avoid injury to you or your cat. Play should be fun for you and your furry friend!

FAQ - How to include your cat in your exercise routine

How do you play physically with your cat?

Different cats prefer different toys and physical activity. Use laser toys, small balls, feather wands, and other cat toys to keep their interest. Cats can also be used as weights for your own indoor exercises if they enjoy being held.

How much exercise do indoor cats need?

Cats require at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, similar to people. They often experience bursts of activity throughout the day, so providing multiple five- to fifteen-minute sessions of exercise at a time is best. Regular exercise prevents weight gain and other health issues.

What are the best ways to exercise with a cat?

You can exercise with your cat by playing on the floor with their toys, playing chase throughout the house, and incorporating them into your own indoor exercise routine. Cats who enjoy going outdoors may also enjoy runs in a cat stroller, leashed walks, and hikes in a backpack cat carrier.