Why Do Cats Need Exercise and the 5 Things To Consider

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An energetic cat in motion, leaping and stretching during a playful exercise routine, capturing the agility and vitality that are integral to a cat's active lifestyle.

Cats can be great pets but, especially when they are kittens, they can be full of energy and spend a good amount of time playing and expunging tons of excess energy. But as cats get older they will often spend much of their time napping, lounging, and becoming generally idle over time.

On average, a cat can sleep anywhere from 12-16 hours a day or even longer. And, even when they are awake, they are often content with doing non-strenuous activities such as eating and grooming.

The amount of sleeping that cats do is nothing to be concerned about since it’s a natural, instinctual behavior for them, but the less activity they get, the more prone they are to developing physical and emotional issues over time.

Making sure that your cat gets regular exercise will help them to maintain a healthy body weight and help to keep their muscles strong while providing them with much-needed mental stimulation. Also, playing with your cats can help you to strengthen your bond with them, as well as creating a lot of fun memories along the way.

So, in this article, we’ll give you some important information about why exercise is important for cats, as well as some useful tips about how to give your cats the exercise that they need to live a happy and healthy life.

Quick Overview: The 5 Things To Consider When Exercising Your Cat

  • Physical Fitness – Exercise can help to keep your cat’s weight at a healthy level, which will help to prevent obesity, and also to keep their muscles strong.
  • Mental Stimulation – Keeping your cats occupied will help to prevent them from getting bored and lonely, and also help to prevent destructive behavior.
  • Bonding – The more time you spend playing with your cats, the stronger the bond you will create with them over time.
  • Frequency – Depending on the cat, exercise and playtime for cats should be done at least a few times a day for three to five minutes each time.
  • Types of Toys – Cat toys, scratching posts, and scratching pads, along with laser pointers, are all great ways to get your cats to exercise.

1. Cats Require Physical Fitness

A graceful cat captured mid-stretch, showcasing its flexibility and elegance as it extends its body, a natural behavior that helps maintain its muscles and keep agile.

Exercise is a vital part of a cat’s healthy lifestyle.

Cats are typically playful animals, but they also like to spend a lot of time sleeping and lounging. Since cats can spend anywhere from 12-16 hours a day sleeping (or even more), it can be easy for a cat to develop obesity issues. Other issues that can come with obesity and inactivity can include arthritis, diabetes, ligament damage, respiratory problems, and even internal organ issues.

Making sure that your cats get a healthy dose of regular exercise can help to avoid many of these issues while also helping to keep your cat’s muscles strong. Again, most cats enjoy playing and being generally active, so exercising them regularly will also help to prevent them from injuring themselves when they are being playful.

2. Mental Stimulation Is Important for Cats

As mentioned, cats like to sleep a lot, but that doesn’t mean that they have inactive brains. However, cats can easily become bored or stressed if they don’t receive enough attention or mental stimulation. This can especially be true if you have cats that you leave alone all day while you are at work or are not at home very often.

But, if you make it a habit to play with your cats a few times a day for five to 10 minutes at a time, or at least give them toys to play with on their own while you are away, it can help to keep your cats happy and content. Also, giving your cats some much-needed mental stimulation can help to prevent destructive behavior, like shredding your furniture or destroying other items around your home.

3. Playing Leads To Good Bonding

Cats are very independent animals, but if you don’t spend time with them, it can lead to destructive and generally unhappy behavior. And an unhappy cat will definitely make you unhappy over time. Despite their independent behavior, cats like to know that they are loved and acknowledged, and playing with them is a great way to achieve this.

Cats of all ages tend to really enjoy their playtime. Not all cats are the naturally playful type, and some may respond to certain toys better than others. However, the simple act of you engaging with them multiple times a day will help to develop trust between you, leading to a healthier bond in the long run.

4. Exercise Your Cats Often

Just like all other animals (and humans), one of the best ways to avoid obesity, boredom, depression, and unhealthy behavior in cats is to make sure that they get exercise on a regular basis. Regardless of the age, size, or breed of your cats, making sure that they are staying active is an essential part of their happiness and overall well-being.

So, make it a point to engage with your cat at least three times a day, for five to 10 minutes at a time. Doing this will help to combat obesity, deter destructive behavior, and help to strengthen your bond with them. Also, playing with your cat is simply a fun thing to do that all cat owners absolutely love.

5. There Are Many Different Cat Toys

A joyful cat fully engrossed in play, swatting at a toy with keen focus and enthusiasm, illustrating the sheer delight and engagement that playtime brings to a cat's life.

Providing a variety of toys and playing in various ways is the best way to keep your cat mentally and physically engaged.

Depending on your cat’s personality, you may need to do some experimenting to find out what kinds of toys they prefer. Cats all have their own, unique personalities, and some respond better to certain types of toys while others may not. Either way, it’s still very important for them to know that you are acknowledging and engaging with them by keeping them as active as possible.

Cat toys can be very simple or very elaborate. Plush toys, balls, ribbon wands, and laser pointers are usually safe bets when it comes to playing, but there are also many more expensive cat toys that require batteries and can be more high-maintenance for you to manage. It really all depends on your cat’s own personality traits as far as what will encourage them to be more active.

Final Thoughts

Cats may seem perfectly content to sleep and lounge all day, but they definitely require a good amount of exercise for them to remain healthy and happy.

So, it’s up to you as their owner to make sure that they get the right amount of exercise on a daily basis to maintain their healthiness and happiness, prevent destructive behavior, and to create a stronger bond with them. Enjoy your playtime!

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About Michael Vogelsang

Owned by a colony of 12 cats, Michael is an animal lover, writer, musician and voice actor who has always loved having animals in his life. He and his wife enjoy their involvement with local shelters and the rescue community, as well as taking care of their ever-growing family of animals.