Cats and exercise. It’s not exactly a sentence that rolls off the tongue. That’s because we’ve been trained to see cats as lazy and sleepy. Sure they get the zoomies at 3am, but otherwise we’re all too used to seeing them sleeping on various objects.
But cats need exercise too. In fact, cats crave exercise. And chances are you can help combat your cats laziness with just a few items you already have. And timing. Timing is really key for getting cats to exercise.
First, Let’s Find The Right Time To Play
Cats spend most of their life sleeping. They move from one object to another and proceed to nap anywhere they can. I can’t tell you how many photos I have of my cats sleeping on furniture. But this isn’t really great if you want them to exercise.
Since cat’s spend most of their time asleep, the time they are awake is extra important to utilize. Generally, cats are most active right before their feeding time. This is due to their predatory nature - they feel like they need to hunt for their food so they start running all over the place 20 minutes before their scheduled feeding. This is the best time to help them exercise, because they are already active.
Remember, we just need them running around for a few minutes. You can set a goal for 15 minutes, and tap out at 10 if they really aren’t enjoying anything.
Now, here’s 5 ways for you to maximize that time.
Whip Out The Laser Lights
Yes of course, an image as old as time itself (almost). The cat chasing the red light on the floor. They are fascinated by these lights. It’s the easiest way for a cat owner to get their cat from one side of the room to the other. It’s also one of the easiest ways to send your cats headfirst into a wall if you aren’t careful.
Head to any dollar store and pick up a laser light, you don’t need anything fancy. The biggest downside to laserlight training is you can only work on this at night, or if your house is very dark. The biggest upside? They will go crazy to catch it. Our cats hear the jangling of the chain when we touch the laserlight and they get excited.
Splurge On A Cat Exercise Wheel
This one will cost a little bit, but it’s the best “exercise” you’re going to get your cat. All the activities on this list involve short sprints or quick movements, which is natural for your predator feline to do. Cat exercise wheels, however, push your cat to be involved in a more continuous exercise pattern.
A pro tip for anyone trying to get your cat to go on the giant wheel of death - incentivise them with catnip. Cats are scared of moving objects and they may never get on a wheel that moves, at least not without proper motivation in place. Sprinkle a bit and let them get comfortable with the idea - hopefully they find it fun.
Invest In A High Quality Cat Tree
Cat trees are great for so many things, and no cat home should be without one. Outside of great places for them to sleep, cats really feel like they own the space because there are no other practical purposes for a cat tree other than for cats to play. It helps them feel safe and comfortable.
Cat trees also help your cats with nail control - their scratching is their way of trimming their nails so you don’t have to (see our guide on how to trim them if needed). And most importantly, when your cats get worked up they will run all over their cat tree and play around on it.
Cat trees are particularly great for exercise because they allow your cat to use their entire bodies jumping and climbing around them.
Give Them A Box
Cats love boxes. There’s something about being enclosed in a small container that just draws cats. Maybe it’s a feeling of safety. Maybe it’s predatory. Who knows really. What we do know is cats love boxes.
Whenever we get a package or anything in a box, we always give it to our cats for a few days to play with. Outside of sleeping in it, they love to jump in and out of them and wrestle with them. Cats also love to scratch and bite on the cardboard, so it’s a great and free way to keep them active. A fresh box also intrigues them more than the old cat tree, so cycling the boxes is a great way to keep them forever interested in the newest object in the center of the room.
Get Them A Friend
This ones the hardest on the list but the most rewarding for your furry friend. Cats are pretty solitary creatures, which is great because taking care of two cats isn’t that much more work (at least nothing like taking care of two dogs). But cats will play with each other when they want to.
A friend is a great way to get a cat wrestling and running around. Our cats playtimes get crazy. There is always a lot of running around and wrestling all over the apartment. But it only lasts for a few minutes. And it comes and goes at random intervals.
So when the cats aren’t playing with each other, we can play with them to make sure they are actually getting a good bit of exercise each day.
If you want to get your cats on a fast path to fitness, it makes sense to have a few small investments. The cheapest option is to keep giving them household objects to play with and get a laserlight from the dollar store. Another cat is a great long term investment for both you and your cat, just make sure they get along. And there’s lots of higher end toys and things you can purchase to keep them entertained and running around all day long.