A bored feline is a recipe for disaster. If your cat's under-stimulated, they'll likely find unpleasant ways to expend their energy, like scratching your curtains. Since you'd probably rather your pet not make your sofa their personal scratch pad, cat exercise is essential.
You can play with your cat in various ways and help them get much-needed exercise. Have them chase after a laser pointer or bubbles, give them interactive toys, or play hide-and-seek with cat treats. Some products help promote activity, like cat trees and exercise wheels. You can even train your cat to walk on a leash, and of course, don't forget about catnip.
It's also important to give your cat opportunities for mental stimulation, such as watching fish in an aquarium or setting up a window perch. But all cats aren't the same, and your kitty might look at you with disinterest if you start shaking a feather toy at them. Therefore, it's best to have several options for exercising your cat so that you can find the best ones for your little fur ball.
7 Ways to Promote Cat Exercise Through Play
You can engage in several activities with your cat to help them exercise. Playtime can become a way for your kitty to stretch their muscles, blow off steam, and exert physical energy.
1. Play Hide-and-Seek
Tap into your cat’s natural hunting instincts by hiding several of their favorite treats around the room. Make it challenging, placing them under, behind, and on top of objects. Use higher-up spaces to encourage climbing and jumping. For example, you could put some on top of a cat tree, a bookshelf, and windowsills.
2. Leash Training
Yes, believe it or not, you can train your cat to walk on a leash. Take some time to get your fur baby used to the leash first. But if they seem game to the idea, walking your cat can be an adventure for them. They not only get exercise, but will enjoy spending time outside and taking in all of the sights, sounds, and smells.
3. Pull a String
It’s a classic that never goes out of style, but cats can’t seem to resist a piece of string. Stretch it out, get your cat’s attention, and start dragging the string around the floor. Let your kitty have some fun with it once they “catch'' it. Then swap it out for something more enticing to keep things safe. Don’t let your cat play with string unsupervised.
4. Chasing a Laser Pointer
Let your cat have a blast chasing the tiny dot from a laser pointer as you move it about the room. But, make sure you let your pet catch their prey when you’re ready to end the fun.
5. Pop Some Bubbles
Never underestimate the simple things. Bubbles aren’t just fun for kids. Your cat will have a blast chasing and trying to pop them. For an added surprise, try some catnip bubbles.
6. Get Creative with Everyday Objects
Playtime doesn’t have to involve expensive toys. Cats love cardboard boxes, crinkly paper bags, toilet paper tubes, etc. However, be sure never to leave your cat alone with these objects.
7. Floating Ping Pong Balls
Despite the stereotype that cats hate water, many enjoy splashing and playing in it. Fill a sink, plastic bin, or container with shallow water and drop in a few ping pong balls. Your cat will watch how they move and bob on the water and have fun batting the balls around. It goes without saying, but watch your cat during water play.
More Products That Help Cats Exercise
Here are several ideas for more extensive, larger items that can provide tons of cat exercise potential. Make sure you have room to set them up so your cat always knows where to find them.
If your cat needs room to roam, but space is limited, or you can’t go outside, a cat wheel could be a good fit. Find one lined with sisal so your cat gets a good grip and can work some satisfying scratching into their exercise routine.
Cat trees give cats multiple ways to climb, jump, and scratch. Giving your cat more permissible areas to take care of their nails is good news for both of you. It helps keep your cat from scratching your furniture and keeps their nails in tip-top shape.
If your cat’s an indoor kitty, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy being outside. But, understandably, you want to keep them safe and nearby. A catio, or cat patio, gives your kitty a secure place to enjoy the outdoors and plenty of space to run, climb, jump, and play.
More Activities That Provide Mental Stimulation for Cats
If cats could talk, you would know exactly what they want at all times. Instead, they express themselves in other ways, sometimes not so agreeably. If your feline friend seems over-anxious, engages in disruptive behavior, or vocalizes excessively, they could be bored.
Exercise is vital to give your pet the physical release they need. But it’s also critical to provide mental stimulation for your cat. Here are a few easy ways to engage your pet and help them satisfy their cognitive appetite.
Set Up a Bird Feeder
Does your cat have a favorite window they love to look out of or a similar perch? Create a cozy and inviting space for them to lounge and set up a bird feeder within view (but out of reach). It provides visual stimulation for your kitty and gives them something to do.
Use Interactive Toys
A mouse that makes sounds and holds catnip becomes irresistible to a cat. Or, to give your cat a tasty task, spread some soft cat food on a Neat-Lik Mat. Other options are toys that move, interactive treat puzzles, and even classic rattle, feather, and crinkle toys.
Get an Aquarium
To give your cat a fun view inside, consider an aquarium. But make sure all the tank’s residents are safely within, and there’s no way your inquisitive feline can get their paws inside.
Make a Cat-Friendly Obstacle Course
Help your cat indulge their inner hunter and exercise their brain with an obstacle course. Create alleyways and tunnels using pillows, cardboard boxes, couch cushions, etc. Place your pal’s favorite treats throughout the course to help guide them through.
Time to Play!
When you take the time to play with your cat, you keep them healthy and happy. It's what's best for your cat (and your furniture). A content kitty is undoubtedly a less mischievous one.
Try out a few of these ideas to find your pet's favorites, and spend time playing with your cat daily. For more helpful pet tips, check out the rest of our blog. You'll find valuable resources to ensure you always do what's best for your favorite feline.