Cats may sleep an average of 15 hours per day, they still need to get up and play! Exercise is as important for your cat as it is for you. It helps cats to loose weight, maintain a proper weight, strengthen muscles, improve energy levels, improve coordination, and can help keep their minds sharp.
Making Exercise Fun
Not sure how to engage with your cat? Just think like your cat’s prey! Your cat is a hunter by nature. They will love games which allow them to use their hunting instincts. Imagine the animals cats like to hunt and imitate them with toys to the best of your ability. You should aim to have a few 10-15 minute play sessions with your cat every day.
Exercise #1: Feather Toys
Imagine the feather toy is a bird. Let it glide through the air and “perch” on the ground or furniture. Shake it like a bird preening its feathers. Bounce it up and down in front of your cat like a clumsy little sparrow.
Exercise #2: Laser Pointers
The laser pointer is like an insect – it moves quickly and can climb walls. Let it run in random patterns throughout the room. It can crawl on the furniture or the cat’s favorite toys. Just make sure that this little guy doesn’t go anywhere you don’t want the cat to follow.
Exercise #3: Plastic Straws
Make the plastic straw into a mouse! Hold it underneath a sheet, pillow, or cushion and let it “dig” and randomly pop it’s head out of it’s lair (think “peek-a-boo”). Have the mouse move at random speeds and stop from time to time.
Exercise #4: Ribbons
With a ribbon long enough to drag along the floor, pretend to be a snake. Your long tail is dragging (or perhaps wiggling) behind you. Make it move faster and then slower. Have it slide over the top of objects and/or furniture. Let it slither under the edges of things. Be sure to randomly stop from time to time.
Playtime Dos and Dont’s
- DO allow your cat to “catch” the prey from time to time. They gain confidence in their hunting skills when they succeed in catching their prey. It is a good practice to let them have one last win before you put a toy away.
- DON’T leave toys with long stringy parts out for the cats to play with independently. These toys may be great for interactive play, but could cause some serious damage if your cat swallows them while you’re not looking. These objects can be a choking hazard or they can get wrapped around digestive organs which will require surgery to remove.
- DO switch toys if your cat doesn’t seem interested in the one you are using. Cats can be kind of picky about what they want to do.
- DON’T be discouraged if your cat is difficult to motivate using toys. For some cats food is a better motivator. Try walking around with their full food dish at meal time and let them follow you. Another option is to place the food dish furthest away from their sleeping area. However you do it, make them have to walk to get to the dish.
- DO enjoy yourself. Spending time with your kitty should be fun.