Get your kitty off the couch and back into action!
Mewton’s First Law states that a cat will remain at rest unless acted upon by an external force (read: treats). If you’re the owner of a lazy cat, you can probably agree to the previous statement. On average, house cats can spend up to 17 hours a day catnapping, often only waking from their snooze fest to graze from their food bowl. But it’s important for your favorite feline family member to get exercise to be the healthiest they can be. Did you know that about 59 percent of cats are overweight?
Whether the goal is to help your kitty work off a few pounds or just to spend some more quality one-on-one time with them, getting your cat to exercise is an important part of caring for a cat.
And even the laziest of kitties have a hunting instinct hidden away somewhere underneath all that fluff! It’s just a matter of accessing it and figuring out how to activate that cutest of kitty booty wiggles. Or you can just trick them into exercising with some tactful treat use!
Here are 4 ways to encourage (or trick) your cat into getting the exercise they need!
Entice Their Hunting Instincts
Cats are some of nature’s most efficient predators - yes, believe it or not, that doughy little ball of fluff can make kills in the wild 60% of the time. To entice your cat to exercise, invest in toys that stimulate their predatory behavior.
If your cat enjoys watching (or stalking) birds or squirrels outside the window, a kicker toy with feathers might be the perfect way to grab your cat’s attention.
If you notice your cat like to jump and leap a lot, a cat wand teaser toy or cat flier toy may be more up their alley. A lot of cat telescoping toys come with different types of "teasers" at the end, whether it's feathers, a small ball, or a mix of both!
Personal cat parent tip: This may not apply to all cats. But I noticed that my cats hate toys with bells on them and would run whenever I took out the teaser wand that had a bell attached. I removed the bell - and viola! It's their favorite toy.
If your cat likes more land-locked prey like mice or lizards that move and zip really fast, the remote control Mouse Hunt Toy (pictured above) is a great way to redirect that natural hunting behavior; with its realistic mouse appearance and speedy movements, it gives your cat the ideal hunt: stalk, chase, and catch. And it gets you involved and playing with your cat, too, which helps you bond with your kitty!
Hide Their Treats
If your cat is especially food motivated, hiding treats is a great way to motivate them to get moving! Entice them into a game of hide-and-seek (or is that hide-and-snack?) by hiding treats in areas your cat visits a lot, like around their favorite place to nap or around their scratchers.
You can also try tossing the treats across the room for your cat to chase! My cat Gatsby (who is highly food motivated) loves to chase treats and starts running almost before I can toss them!
This fun game encourages your cats to get moving and to actively search for their treats, stimulating them both mentally and physically.
Put Their Food Bowls Up High
Featuring our Jungle Gym Cat Tree Condo - the perfect place to hide treats - or even move their food bowls to different tiers.
Following a similar vein, use everyday resources (like food) to motivate your cat to stretch, climb, and run, which are all-natural behaviors that keep cats fit in the wild. You can accomplish this by putting your cat’s food bowl up high, perhaps on a tiered cat tree, encouraging them to work for their food.
If you have more than one story to your house, you could feed your cat upstairs to get them to use the stairs and get a bit more exercise on the way to dinner.
Get it Started with Catnip
If your cat is lazy and hard to get motivated to chase or move around, try stimulating them with a bit of catnip, or other fun ways to give your catnip, like catnip bubbles and even catnip wine! Yes, there's catnip wine for cats - nonalcoholic, of course!
When your cat inhales catnip, they inhale nepetalactone, which binds to receptors inside your cat’s nose, which then stimulates sensory neurons leading to the brain. Catnip does more than just get your cat really, really high. These natural stimulants encourage your cat to exercise, but also act as a source of stress relief for frustrated or anxious kitties!
Take Them For a Walk
Dogs aren't the only ones who can benefit from walkies! Believe it or not, some cats actually enjoy spending time in the great outdoors on a leash; they get to explore the big world outside their home, listen to birds and take in the sights and sounds of nature.
It's important to consider your cat's safety and comfort levels before taking them for a walk outside. Make sure to start harness and leash training slowly and indoors first and ensure your cat is comfortable. Find a harness that fits comfortably but can't easily be wriggled out of in case your cat spooks. Leash training may take some patience, but you may be surprised to see your cat take instantly to it!
How do you get your cat to exercise? Let us know in the comments!
It might be a challenge to get your cat to exercise, especially if they’re more inclined to catnap the day away. But with a bit of time spent seeing what your cat responds to the best, you’ll find out that playtime with your cat not only gets your cat the exercise they need - but it’s a great way to increase your bond with your kitty at the same time!