Research has shown that roughly 40% of all cats in the United States are overweight. Just like dogs, cats need adequate exercise and playtime every day, not just for their physical health but for their mental health as well.
Is your cat getting enough exercise? Read more to learn common signs that your cat needs more playtime in their life, and how to encourage more exercise.
How Much Exercise Does Your Cat Need?
Cat behaviorists and veterinarians agree that cats should have between 20-60 minutes of exercise per day, depending on your cat’s health, age, and specific needs.
This should be done in short bursts (5-10 minutes each) to mimic a cat’s natural activity. Cats are hunters, and they like to sneak, stalk, and chase their prey before they pounce. This build-up into a quick burst is exactly how you should play with your cat.
6 Signs Your Cat Needs More Exercise
Not sure if your cat is getting enough exercise? Here are 5 common signs that your cat could use more structured playtime in their day.
1. Destructive Behavior
Do you frequently find claw marks on your couch or bite marks on some of your furniture?
Instead of channeling their pent-up energy into a toy, cats that are bored and lacking in proper mental and physical stimulation will turn items that can find around the house.
2. Aggressive Behavior
Similarly, cats that have lots of pent-up energy might choose to release it in aggressive behaviors.
If your cat is attacking your feet when you walk through a room or clawing at you when you try to pet them, they might just be bored.
If your cat has put on weight recently, that’s a major sign that they aren’t burning enough calories every day.
Obesity is unfortunately common but very dangerous for your cat, especially as they age. It’s a great idea to start incorporating more playtime into your routine now to help your cat in the long run.
Lack of exercise doesn’t just cause boredom – it’s also stressful for your cat. Grooming gives your cat an outlet to control their anxiety, but overgrooming can lead to hair loss and irritated patches of skin, if not addressed quickly.
Just like humans, cats will turn to food when they’re bored or stressed. If you free-feed your cat, you might notice them returning to their bowl more frequently throughout the day.
Overeating goes hand-in-hand with obesity, and you’ll need to address the issue quickly to keep your cat healthy and happy.
If your cat seems to be sleeping more than normal, or they aren’t especially interested in playtime, this could be a result of a lack of exercise.
The same thing happens with humans. The more we avoid our workout routines, the less energy we have and the less likely we are to add exercise into our days. As soon as we make the effort to exercise regularly, we have an instant energy boost.
The more you work with your cat to exercise, the more energy they will have throughout the day.
5 Ways to Encourage Your Cat to Exercise
While cats need exercise, they aren’t always as ready and willing to play as dogs can be. Here are a few ways you can make playtime fun and exciting for your cat.
1. Appeal to Your Cat’s Natural Instincts
Games and toys that encourage a cat’s natural hunting instincts will be much more enriching for your cat. Use slow, controlled movements to encourage your cat to chase the toy, and make sure to let your cat catch the “prey” every once in a while, so they don’t become frustrated with the game.
Doing these play sessions in short bursts throughout the day is perfect for your cat’s physical and mental health.
2. Provide Vertical Access for Jumping and Climbing
For times that you can’t be there to initiate play, having shelving or cat towers around the house is a great way to encourage exercise.
Being high up is comforting for many cats, and the jumping and climbing movements are fantastic exercises for them.
3. Use Treat Toys and Enrichment Activities
If your cat really needs some extra motivation to exercise, use their food or a special treat as motivation. Puzzle toys are great options to engage their brain, while also working out some of their extra energy.
You can also DIY your own enrichment toys and games using things you have around the house. Toilet paper rolls can become great puzzle toys by just filling them with treats and bending down the openings.
Don’t be afraid to get creative!
4. Rotate Your Cat’s Toys for Added Excitement
If your cat no longer seems interested in playing with their toys, it might simply be because they’re bored of playing with the same toys.
To help with this, rotate through a set of your cat’s toys, so they only have access to a few at a time. This makes it even more exciting every time you bring out a different toy.
5. Create a Playtime Routine
Cats are also creatures of habit, and they prefer an exercise routine that happens at the same time every day. The more you stick to the same times, the more your cat becomes conditioned to participate in exercise every day.
Schedule your cat’s playtime into your daily routine, so that your cat feels even more encouraged.
Want a Minnesota Cat Sitter that Cares About Your Cat as Much as You Do?
At Pup Culture, we know how important exercise is to your cat’s overall health and happiness. Our trusted cat sitters provide love, attention, and fun enrichment for your cat while you’re away, so get much-needed exercise while you have peace of mind.
Contact us today at 651-236-7312 to book a cat sitting appointment today.