Last Updated on: October 8, 2023 by Crystal Uys
Owning a dog means taking them for walks and to the park, where you can throw a ball around in order to address their exercise needs. But owning a cat isn’t quite as straightforward as this. Cats definitely need exercise, but how much do they need? What about indoor cats?
Generally speaking, cats should have roughly 30 minutes of exercise daily, but this depends on the health and age of the cat.
In this article, we discuss how to get your feline the right amount of exercise whether they are an indoor or outdoor cat, as well as what kind of exercise a kitten, adult, and senior cat requires.
How Much Exercise Do Cats Need?
How much exercise a cat needs depends on their age, health, breed, and whether they are indoor or outdoor cats.
Outdoor cats can get more exercise than indoor cats because they have more space to run and play in. This means your cat probably doesn’t need to rely on you for their exercise.
That said, you should still spend time playing with your outdoor cat, though this is less about the physical exercise and more about building a stronger bond between you.
Since indoor cats tend to live in small spaces without many natural stimuli in their environment, ensuring that they get enough exercise is essential.
You’ll need to find ways to get them to run, climb, and pounce, such as with the use of cat toys. Engage them several times a day for short periods, which should amount to about 30 minutes of activity.
Depending on their age, a kitten typically sleeps about 18 to 22 hours daily and is usually quite active while awake.
Kittens should have roughly 1 hour of exercise daily, which they can do for themselves with appropriate toys and time spent with you. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to play with a kitten!
It’s common for senior cats to slow down and spend more time sleeping and less time exercising. It’s important to engage your older cat in playtime but only at a level that they can manage and that won’t accidentally injure them.
You should aim for short play sessions that add up to 15 minutes daily. Also, speak to your vet, particularly if your cat has any health issues, about the best kind of exercise for them.
Why Is Exercise Important for Cats?
Exercise is a way for cats to be physically and mentally healthy and active. It enables them to engage in their natural instincts to hunt, which can also prevent destructive behaviors like scratching and chewing.
A cat that doesn’t get enough exercise will become frustrated and bored. They can potentially experience depression and anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviors.
Exercise enables your cat to stay mentally sharp and form stronger social bonds with you and other members of the family.
Regular exercise enables your cat to burn calories, which helps them maintain a healthy weight. This can prevent obesity, which can then prevent other health problems like arthritis and diabetes.
Exercise also enables cats to stretch and strengthen their muscles, which is crucial for senior cats. They are more prone to weakness and muscle loss, so engaging cats of all ages in playtime of some kind is vital.
What Are a Few Ways to Ensure That Your Cat Gets Enough Exercise?
Some cats tend to be lazier than others, so you’ll need to find what makes them excited and interested in playtime. Bear in mind that cats do become bored quickly, even if just moments before, they were excited about attacking a toy mouse. This is nothing to be worried about and is typical cat behavior.
You can try rubbing catnip on a toy if they aren’t that interested in it. You can also store a few of their toys and swap them out every month or so. To your cat, it will seem like they have a constant supply of new toys.
Another tip is to play with your cat at dusk and dawn, as cats are crepuscular and more active at these times. Also, invest in good interactive cat toys.
What Are the Best Toys to Keep Your Cat Active?
Not every cat will be drawn to the same toys; cats are finicky and have their own personal preferences. The following are a few of the common toys that most cats enjoy.
Cat Tree and Shelves
These are not exactly toys, but cats can get a great deal of use and enjoyment out of a good cat tree and a few cat shelves.
Cats love being up high, and cat trees also provide them with opportunities for scratching, jumping, and snoozing. If you have multiple cats, this is a great place for them all to hang out and play together.
Start by stocking up on toys that your cat can play with even when you’re not there. These can be simple toy mice, balls, and springs.
You can go more advanced with puzzle toys or treat balls, which can be effective for cats that are food motivated. Read the reviews, and figure out what you believe your cat might best respond to.
Put a feather on the end of a stick, and you’ve got an enticing cat toy! This one needs your input, so enjoy the opportunity to have fun playing with your cat.
Try to imitate the movements of prey like birds and mice. Imagine how they might duck in and out of hiding and freeze for a moment before becoming active again. Most cats can’t resist these kinds of movements!
Fishing Rod Toys
Similar to the feather wand, fishing rod toys can get your cat leaping. You can fly it around the room and dangle it above their heads—just think of birds when you play with this one. This toy is great for active cats, and you can even get their acrobatic skills going if you handle it the right way.
This can be hit or miss for some cats, but if you have a particularly active breed and not much space for them to run around in, an exercise wheel made for cats might be perfect. It’s basically a hamster wheel, just cat sized.
Walking on a Harness
If you think that your cat might enjoy walking outside on a leash, you can try harness training them. Of course, walking a cat is quite different from walking a dog—they are more likely to take their sweet time—but it’s still a chance for your cat to safely enjoy the outdoors.
A catio is another safe way to introduce your indoor cat to the outside world. You can make your own or purchase one. It gives your cat the opportunity to play and relax while “outdoors.”
Cats only need about 30 minutes of exercise daily, and if you can do it a few minutes at a time, it’s not that difficult to stay on top of their needs. If your cat loves the feather wand, be sure to use it; if your cat doesn’t respond to a catnip toy, find something else.
If your cat isn’t all that motivated to play, ensure that they at least have a few scratching posts and a view out of the window so they can have mental stimulation. If your cat seems particularly lethargic, you might want to check in with your veterinarian.
Featured Image Credit: Imageman, Shutterstock
About the author
Cat mom to Ivy – a feisty little rescue kitten that is her one and only child. For now! Throughout her life, she has been introduced to the special love that can be found in the bond with a cat. Having owned multiple felines, she is more than certain that their love is unmatched, unconditional and unlike any other. With a passion to educate the public about everything, there is to know about felines, their behavior, and their unique personalities, Crystal is devoted to making sure that all cats and their owners know the importance of conscious living – and loving!
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