While your feline may seem content lazing around the house all day, cats need exercise to stay healthy and happy. Your little lion should exercise regularly — otherwise, they could become overweight, leading to health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis later in life.
Another reason your cat needs plenty of exercise is they'll get bored without it, which could lead to depression and overeating. A bored cat may lash out at their family and develop destructive habits. Obesity in cats is a serious problem, too. A study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) in 2018 estimated as many as 60% of cats in the US are overweight.
But how much exercise should your cat get on average? Most experts agree that cats should get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. These 30 minutes should be split up into small 10/15-minute bursts of activity, as cats aren't built for long periods of exercise like dogs. The amount of exercise your feline needs also depends on their age and health, so don't worry if your older cat isn't as active!
Most cats won't exercise without motivation, so you'll need to
encourage Smudge to stay active by playing with them. If you have an
outdoor cat, they may not need as much playtime because they'll stay
active hunting and skulking around your neighborhood.
parents with a house cat should try to play with their feline fur-baby
for short periods. If your cat gets bored and walks away, don't
fret — cats get tired of games quickly and don't need extended periods of
activity. If your cat is wary of a new toy try rubbing a bit of catnip
on it, as this is sure to make them feel more comfortable.
You should also try to vary your play to keep your cat interested. Games where they can chase, pounce, and jump are sure to keep your cat's attention, as they simulate hunting.
It's also worth considering what time of day you play with your feline friend. Cats are crepuscular, meaning they're most active during the twilight hours. So, pet parents looking for the best time to play with their kitty should try during sunrise and sunset.
Keeping a cat interested in play is more complicated than it sounds,
and some felines can be pretty picky over their toys. Cats love
climbing, scratching, jumping, and batting, so pick a toy that fits
A large cat tower is a must for any house cat, as this gives them somewhere to climb, scratch, and play with their favorite toys. Cat towers also help keep Simba healthy, as they provide scratching posts where your cat can shed their claws. They also give cats somewhere high up to sit so they can feel safe.
On your next trip to the pet store, pick up a toy with a feather, as this is sure to trigger your cat's hunting instinct. Pet stores now stock laser pointers specifically for cats, and many felines can't resist chasing a glowing red dot around the living room. Motorized and wind-up toys are also a good choice, as they simulate the movement of prey in the wild. That being said, some cats prefer the simple things, and an old cardboard box can provide them with hours of entertainment.
Feel like your cat is depressed or overweight and isn't getting enough exercise? Ask a vet for advice through Wag!, and they'll help you get your cat back to their old self.