Cats, Exercise- The two words are not often seen together, however exercise is important to your cat for a number of reasons.
Cats have not changed much in the 10,000 or so years since their domestication started. Until recently, they were roaming the countryside earning a living. For example, a scottish wild cat can have a territory of up to 40 square kilometers to patrol!
As well as food and exercise, this activity provides another essential component to cat welfare - mental stimulation.
Turning the clock forward today's cats are now living the life, often as inside pets with food laid on and sometimes very little to do. While this may sound ideal, a lack of exercise and purpose can have detrimental effects.
Obesity is becoming much more common and has negative effects on cardiovascular, hormonal and musculoskeletal health. Boredom and lack of stimulus can also have deleterious effects on cat welfare. While diet, genetics & environment also have a role in obesity, exercise is definitely part of the solution.
Now we know that exercise is important, it’s just a matter of going….
- for a jog?
- to the pet store?
- to the cupboard?
A jog might help you, but cats tend to be sprinters and monotonous running is not really their thing.
Thankfully there are other excellent options. Even for those on a budget as great toys can be found around the home:
- Rolled Up Paper Balls- heaps of fun and really cheap. Some cats even learn to play “fetch”.
- Toilet Rolls - can’t donate them to the preschool any more (OH&S gone mental IMHO) so let your cat have the fun.
- Paper Bags - remove the handles so there’s no chance of an inadvertent necklace.
- Cardboard Boxes - build a city and watch the destruction.
- Ping Pong Balls - in or out of an empty bathtub.
- Cat-safe Soft Toy - everyone likes a teddy.
- Food Hide and Seek - spread (throw) dry food around so your cat has to move to munch.
There are tons of great cat toys out there but avoid strings, ribbons, rubber bands, needles, plastic bags or anything that might be swallowed. If your cat seems to be eating any toy - even if “safe” remove it. Also cats get bored so change toys over weekly and try a mix of catching, wrestling, hiding and cuddling toys.
If your cat seems to be eating any toy - even if “safe” remove it
Play is great for your cat and for your relationship with them. Remember that in games with your cat, catching the toy every 1 in 3 to 1 in 6 times keeps things at their most interesting and rewarding.