We all have made the resolution to exercise more at least once in our lives, especially after the holidays. And this is a great resolution to share with your kitty too. Domestication of cats into indoor house pets has removed the need for cats to hunt for live prey, decreasing their exercise and their mental stimulation. This has led to weight gain, boredom, and stress in our cats' daily lives.
Kittens seem to have the natural ability to keep themselves entertained and will exercise themselves silly. However, some cats seem to lose that ability as they get older and will need your help to keep them engaged with stimulating exercising. While it is normal for a cat to sleep eighteen or more hours a day, we still need to ensure that her daily life is mentally stimulating and that she is getting daily exercise. Dedicating some time every day, even ten to fifteen minutes, to play with your cat and providing opportunities to "hunt" will help keep her healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally as well as strengthen the bond between you.
Here are some quick tips to help your cat get more exercise:
- Toys: Homemade or pet shop toys help to encourage your cat to get moving. Every cat has different tastes in toys so it may take a few purchases to find her favorite. It's also good to rotate toys every week to keep her from becoming bored with them.
- "Catch the Light": Shine a flashlight or laser light on the floor and walls and let your cat play.
- Boxing: Let your cat play in a box or paper bag. You can interact with her during this game by scratching at the outsides to get her to punch the sides.
- "Hunting": Put your cat's food in different places each day (including on top of tall furniture) and bring out her inner huntress.
Another great idea, courtesy of petfit.com, is to incorporate ways to engage your cat to exercise with you. Not only will you both get a good workout, but you will both have a good time, strengthening your relationship. Celebrity fitness coach Gunnar Peterson has come up with three great ways to exercise with your cat:
- "Light" Cardio: Everyone knows that many cats love to chase beams of light so why not get your heart rate up at the same time? Try jumping an invisible rope while holding flashlights or laser lights in your hands. You and your cat are sure to get a solid workout. The light should move up and down the wall and in circles, so your cat can have a blast trying to catch it.
- "Light" Abs: Ever do sit-ups with a flashlight or laser light in your hands? When you get to the top of the sit-up, hold your position and crunch your abs for a few seconds while moving the light beams on your wall.
- Curious Cat Curls: Tie an elastic band to a toy around your dumbbells. As you curl, watch your cat go crazy trying to catch the toy as it ascends and descends. Just make sure you keep the elastic band out of reach when not playing so your cat doesn't accidentally swallow it.
Click here to see demonstration videos for these great exercises. The cat videos are about halfway down the page.