Do Cats Need Exercise? Nine Easy Workouts for Your Cat

By Category: Do Cats Need Exercise?
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Cats need exercise as much as humans do. If your cat’s a couch potato, I’ve thought of nine ways to get him up and moving.

Cats need exercise as much as humans do.

Cats need exercise as much as humans do.

Don’t cats need exercise Thomasina? My cats spend most of the day sleeping!
— Worried Cat Mom

Hi, Worried…

Yes, cats need exercise! But I don’t think you should worry that your cats spend most of the day sleeping. That’s pretty normal. We’re crepuscular (my human typist loves that word!), which means we’re most active at dusk and dawn. 

But even though we sleep most of the day, cats still need exercise to be healthy and happy. With no exercise, we get so depressed and bored. 

Why Cats Need Exercise

Did you know that between 60 and 70 percent of cats in the US are overweight? That’s a lot of fat cats! And that extra weight puts them at risk for all kinds of scary sounding health problems, like bladder, kidney and heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma and high blood pressure.  
But helping your cat slim down is just one reason why cats need exercise.
We also need exercise to keep our muscles toned and our minds alert. Wouldn’t your brain turn to mush if you did nothing but sit around inside all day? Ours do, too! 


Convincing Cats To Exercise

While all cats need exercise, convincing some of them to get off the couch and burn a few calories isn’t easy. Even cats who go out sometimes need a little nudge to do something other than sleep under a big bush all day. 
As you’re planning your cats’ exercise routine, remember that we do things in spurts of energy. We run in sprints, not marathons. And when we hunt, we spend more time hiding in the grass watching and listening than we do… well… you probably don’t want to think about what we do.

So here are nine ways to get your cat to exercise in short sprints of calorie-burning energy. Try to keep it fun. If your cats aren’t enjoying their workout, they’ll decide to go back to the couch for a nap.

1. Play with a wand or fishing pole toy. Or use a long shoelace or ribbon. Just five or 10 minutes of play a couple of times a day will burn some calories and get those muscles working. 
2. Invest in some window perches or a floor-to-ceiling cat tree. Your cats will love sleeping on the top perch, and they’ll get some exercise climbing up to get to it. Put the cat tree near a window. Being up high is no fun if all you can see is a wall. 
3. Put your cats’ food up high on a table or counter so they have to jump and exercise to get to it. Just make sure they can reach it without working so hard they decide to not eat!
4. If your cats go outside, go for short walks with them. We love walking with our human! Or, if your cats are strictly indoors, think about taking them out on harnesses and leashes. Being outside is great physical and mental exercise. 

5. Scatter wide cardboard scratching pads around your house, and sprinkle catnip on them. A tall (32 inches) scratching post is a good investment, too. Most cats love scratching pads and scratching provides some gentle exercise. The best locations for scratching pads and posts is near the entrances to your cats’ favorite rooms. Put scratching pads near where they like to sleep, too. 
6. Instead of just putting them in front of your cats, toss treats across the room so the cats can “hunt” for them. This gets them up and moving, and they’ll think it’s great fun. Or walk around the house, dropping treats behind you. The cats will follow you!
7. Really potent catnip toys will get your cats moving, too. Drag one across the sofa or bed where they’re sleeping. When they wake up and start chasing the toy, you can drop it on the floor. They’ll continue playing. Or put catnip toys between your cats’ favorite places to nap and their food. They’ll stop to roll around and even kick the toys on their way to their dishes. 
8. Try agility training with your cats. We’ve never done this, but it sounds like fun.
9. Consider getting your cats an exercise wheel. I saved this for last because I can’t imagine any of the cats who live here using it. I wouldn’t! If you want to give it a try, it’ll be less expensive if you buy it on the manufacturer’s website

I hope this helps, Worried Cat Mom. If you’ll excuse me, I need to get on my way now. My human typist and I have been sitting at this computer way too long, and we need some exercise!

Oh, and if you’d like to know why cats sleep so much, check out this post. This one on why cats sleep curled up is interesting, too.

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