When your cat has access to the outdoors it will usually manage to get plenty of exercise by him or herself. If this is not the case and you decide to keep your cat indoors, you will probably need to encourage your pet to exercise. Ensuring your cat is getting enough exercise, in combination with a complete and balanced diet, is vital for their health and happiness. A cat won’t exercise as readily as a dog, but there are a few strategies that will help you keep your cat active and mobile.
Cat trees and scratching posts
Cat trees and scratching posts are ideal places for play (and sleeping…). You can encourage playing and climbing by placing your cat’s favorite treats on various levels of the tree. If you don’t want to use food as an encouragement, you can hang your cat’s favorite toy just high enough so he needs to climb the tree to reach the toy.
Exercise wheels are a relatively new cat product which provide both mental and physical stimulation. The wheels are entirely cat-driven, so by using it your cat will train his muscles and burn calories. It often requires training for your cat to build up confidence and to learn how to use the indoor cat wheel. High energy breeds like Bengals and Sphynx tend to learn the easiest.
In their natural environment, cats have to hunt for their food and eat about twelve times a day. Most cat owners just put food into a bowl and walk away. You can add some excitement and activity into feeding time by using a food ball. This is a ball the size of a tennis ball, in which you can put dried cat food. As the cat pushes and bats the ball the food will gradually fall out.
An indoor cat will need plenty of stimulation and play to prevent them becoming bored. Even the simplest toys can provide hours of entertainment. Cats play to mimic their natural hunting behavior, although not all cats have the same motivation to play. Just find out what toys your cat likes and dislikes by trying toys with different textures, shapes, sizes, noises and scents. Most cats enjoy interacting with their owner and playtime is a great way to develop the bond between you and your pet.
Nepeta Cataria is a plant that is commonly known as catnip or catmint because of the intense attraction about two-thirds of cats, especially males, have towards it. The response seems to be a kind of euphoria, similar to how humans respond to hallucinogenic drugs, although catnip is neither harmful nor addictive for felines. You can make classic cat toys more interesting by filling them with catnip or using a catnip spray. Usually the effects of catnip last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the cat.
Some cats go wild for laser toys. The intensity and length of the sessions should depend on the cat’s age and physical condition. Don’t shine laser pointers directly into your cat’s eyes and at the end of the playtime, gradually slow down the beam until it comes to rest on a soft toy the cat can catch to avoid frustration.