There are many benefits to keeping your cat as an indoor cat, from protecting wildlife through to keeping them safe from the area that you live in. However, living their life indoors isn’t all smooth sailing for a cat. Cats need quite a bit of exercise with their protein-heavy diet. Boredom can also be a real problem. Unless your indoor cat makes an effort to keep active, they may end up with a weight problem. Even the healthiest cat breeds can have problems if they gain too much weight.
Part of the problem with indoor cats is that most of their exercise would come from outdoor activities. Left in a human’s house with no stimulation, there is little around that attracts a cat to get up and be active. They might occasionally get a spider to hunt, but that prey won’t keep them occupied for very long. This really means you’ve got to provide the opportunities for exercise for a cat, many won’t seek them out by themselves.
A cat can’t go on the energetic walks that a dog can. While they can get out of the house, they need a different type of exercise. This can get some owners concerned about how active their cat is. Their indoor cat might prefer to snooze than to play with a toy. If you’re concerned about your cat’s weight or general levels of activity, you should try and look at how they’re getting exercise. If your cat doesn’t appear to get any exercise at all, this is cause for concern. Before you start assuming your cat is a sloth though, you should try and figure out how much exercise they need, since this can vary from cat to cat.
How Much Exercise Does an Indoor Cat Need?
The amount of exercise a cat needs is going to depend on a few factors. You have to consider their age, weight, and overall health. A lot of this is self-explanatory, but some cats really don’t need very much exercise or can be trusted to exercise on their own.
Older cats don’t need the same amount of exercise as younger cats, and they’ll be harder to engage in play anyway. This is just a natural part of ageing. As well as not wanting to exercise as much, an older cat might have issues with mobility which makes exercise less enjoyable than when they were younger. In this case, you might have to work harder to get them to be active.
The same essentially goes for cats that could stand to lose some weight. They may not enjoy exercising and take a bit of prompting to actually get up and about. With an overweight cat, you should try and figure out what type of play they enjoy. Once you know this, you will have an easier time getting your cat to actually exercise by engaging them on their terms.
A healthy cat should be aiming for at around fifteen to thirty minutes of exercise a day. This can combine with the amount of time a cat will spend being active on their own. Cumulatively, this is enough exercise for an indoor cat to stay stimulated and healthy.
Activities for an Indoor Cat
Indoor cats do have quite a wide range of activities open to them to get some exercise. A lot of these will require some input from you though. While there are plenty of ways a cat can exercise on their own, many require someone to help them. Spending a little amount of time playing with your cat will help them get into the habit of exercising more. These are some things you can do with them to be active.
Play with Toys
There are loads of different cat toys on the market but they do have one thing in common, they give a cat some exercise. Cats like to play in a manner that mimics the way they would play with their prey. This opens up a wide range of toys but it often means you’ll have to play with them.
Toys they can chase can give your cat something to stalk and pounce at. This is a great exercise for a cat. You can also use mobiles or fishing rods that allow you to dangle something for your cat to play with. These work like chase toys since they let your cat pounce on the dangling thing. It really doesn’t matter what shape these items take, as long as its small and moving your cat will interpret it as prey when you engage them to play.
Most of these toys require you to actually be there playing with your cat though. So these are the best solutions for a cat getting exercise during the day when they might be alone.
Automatic toys are a fun way to keep a cat busy when they’re alone. These come in the form of battery-powered things for your cat to chase, or even things on tracks that your cat can chase. They might need a little prompting to begin to play with them, but once you’ve gotten them interested in the toy they’ll enjoy playing with it even when alone.
Exercise wheels aren’t just for rodents, cats can enjoy them too. This is a particularly energetic form of exercise for a cat, and it can give them quite the workout. This is a good solution to exercising for a cat that might be overweight. Equally, if you think your cat seems agitated and overly energetic, it might be a good way for them to burn off excess energy. A cat with too much built-up energy is going to become bored and act out. An exercise wheel can prompt a cat to get a really big workout if they want to, this makes them great as an exercise for indoor cats that seem a little bored.
Cat trees or cat activity centers can be a good thing for your cat to play. These usually span multiple levels, with mobiles dangling down, different perches to climb, scratching posts, and plenty of high surfaces. These can be a lot of fun for an energetic cat. They’re particularly helpful for cats who like to play in a vertical way like climbing. Cat furniture and trees are a great way to keep a cat occupied when you’re busy.
Walks aren’t just for dogs. They can be a lot of fun for cats too! Taking a cat on a walk lets them get some extra stimulation in their lives and some exercise. However, it is going to take some time to get them used to it. They’re not as naturally suited to walking with a leash as a dog is. There are some methods you can use to teach a cat to walk. If your cat enjoys going for walks, this can be a fun way for both of you to stay active.
This is a classic way of getting a cat to exercise and you don’t even need any toys. A laser or LED pointer will prompt your cat to chase the red dot around the room. This is a way you can play with you’re passively doing other things. This makes it a good supplemental form of exercise, along with more hands-on activities.
Although this does work, you should also be aware of the risks of playing with a laser pointer too often. A cat can become pretty frustrated by never being able to actually catch the red dot. This can lead to some built-up stress. A good way to mitigate this is to play with your cat with toys as well as a laser pointer, giving them an opportunity to actually catch their prey at the end of the session. Laser pointers are fun, but they shouldn’t be your cat’s main form of play.
Getting Your Cat to Get More Exercise
Those are all great ways to give your cat more exercise, but what if your indoor cat doesn’t want to exercise? It can be difficult to motivate some cats to actually get up and about. This can be a problem. There are some methods you can use to engage a cat in exercise, particularly by provoking them to play.
Most cats can be gotten to exercise simply by you getting involved. By moving around toys or stimulating them to climb up a cat tree to catch something, most pets get the idea of what they should be doing! After you prompt them to get this exercise enough, they’ll likely return to it when they’re feeling bored.
If your cat just isn’t engaging, you might need to rethink the exercise you’re giving them. Try and pay attention to what forms of exercise your cat actually enjoys doing, and tailor the attempt to engage them to that. Don’t try to convince a cat to go on an exercise wheel if they prefer climbing a cat tree. You need to find what engages your cat and what they enjoy, then help them do more of it to get more exercise.
An indoor cat does need some extra attention if they’re going to stay active and healthy. Thankfully, it doesn’t take very much to get them up and about. For most cats, all you need to do is take the time to actually play with them. It isn’t just kittens that like to play with their owners. You and your cat will enjoy playing together, and bond more because of it.