How to help your cat exercise
You don’t often see someone taking their cat for a walk on a lead. So how exactly do you make sure your cat gets enough exercise? If they don’t get an adequate amount, they could end up being overweight, which in turn, could lead to serious health conditions such as diabetes or even arthritis.
Read on to discover what is the best exercise for cats and what happens if they don’t get any.
Why is exercise important for cats?
Obesity in cats is ever-increasing and recent veterinary studies have shown that a quarter of the UK’s cats are affected.
Obviously limiting the amount of food that you give your cat would be the best starting point but exercise also helps shed those pounds, whilst helping keep their joints and muscles mobile and healthy.
Not only does exercise help your cat maintain a healthy weight, but it can also benefit their mental state too. Exercise can keep pets mentally stimulated, which keeps them happy and helps to avoid any behavioural problems.
Exercise is also a great way to build trust between you and your pets, as well as with other animals.
How often should you exercise your cat?
You should try to engage your cat in exercise for around 10 – 15 minutes, several times a day. You will find that, especially kittens, love repetition and won’t tire of game, long after you have!
Older cats will be harder to convince as they tend to sleep longer and are more likely subject to health conditions such as arthritis. The best thing to do is find something that peaks your cat’s interest and start with a few minutes a day, gradually building up to quarter of an hour.
How to exercise your cat
- Toys – A great way to increase activity is to introduce an interactive toy – these are especially popular with kittens. One of the best cat exercise toys is a simple wind-up mouse, which your feline friend can chase until their heart’s content.
- Other favourites include Kong toys, which are plastic dome shaped toys, which when bounced, spring off in a different direction, allowing plenty of opportunity for chase. Cats also enjoy laser pens as they like to follow the red light across a carpet.
- Chasing and hunting games – Cats love any excuse to use their innate instincts to hunt. You can easily do this with things at home. You could also try hiding a healthy treat for them to find or get them to chase a stick or toy that you move around for them. A toy such as a ball which dispenses healthy titbits as it moves is a great way to encourage cats to run about.
- Some of the best exercise toys for cats are empty kitchen rolls, old socks or crumpled paper. There’s no need to spend lots of money on fancy items if you don’t want to!
- Scratching posts – One of the key reasons why cats put on weight is that their muscles are not kept active and fat is not being effectively burnt. A scratching post helps cats to exercise as they can jump up and claw at the post. A post also makes an efficient tool for keeping their claws nice and short.
- Hydrotherapy sessions – While this can be quite costly for sessions, it’s a great way to deal with overweight cats as the water relieves pressure on joints. It’s also a great way to get a cat active again after surgery.
- Hopefully you have learned a few tips to give your cat exercise. Remember, if you are still unsure about starting exercise for cats, you can always visit your vet and ask them to create a tailored regime for you both to follow. It is always a good idea to get cat insurance to protect yourself from any unexpected costs in the event of injury or accident.
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- Consider the size of the tree. A small tree will be safer than a larger tree because there is less of it to crash down if things go horribly wrong. For a kitten, a tabletop tree might be a suitable choice until it grows up and stops being so playful.
- If you do choose a real tree, also choose a water container for the tree that is completely inaccessible to the cat. If she tries to drink from it, she risks poisoning.
- For small kittens, wrap tinfoil around the trunk. They don’t like putting their nails into it and it will keep them from climbing the tree.
- A tree should have a firm and solid base.
- Use a tree skirt to hide all ugly but practical safety fixes at the base of the tree (including electrical items, see below).
- As well as a solid base, anchor the tree to the wall or ceiling to help prevent it from toppling over should your cat land in the tree or pull on it.
- If possible, select a placement for the tree that allows you to shut the door at night or when nobody is about, in order to keep the cats away from the tree. Obviously this isn’t always possible or even doable but if it is an option, make use of it.
- Fill a spray bottle with water and hang on to it. It is a good idea to set the tree in place, then let her in to investigate but hover in the background with the spray bottle, just in case. If your cat shows any signs of wanting to leap at or on the tree, a light spritz of water on her back and a stern “NO!” will get the point across. This should deter her from trying it again and should be enough to teach her that the Christmas tree is not her playground.
- You could also place orange peels under the tree to make your cat less likely to go near it. (Cats also dislike the smell of rotten apples but then you probably won’t like that smell much either!)
- Spray some pine cones with Citronella and pile them around the base of the tree. Cats do not walk on pine cones! (Pine cones also have the same effect in the base of your houseplants.)
- Choose more matte, less shiny ornaments for your tree. It will attract less attention from your cats.
- Cat-proofing your tree is more difficult with fake snow. Keep your cat away from the snow by spraying it with bitter apple spray, or forgo the fake snow to make your tree safer for your cat.