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7 great cat exercises to keep your kitty in shape

cat exercises
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cat exercises are a great way to keep your furry friend in shape, and they are especially important for those that are being kept indoors. You may be thinking that getting that dozing cat to be interested in working out is an impossibility, but you can exercise cats in all kinds of sneaky ways that will keep both their minds and their bodies in shape. 

This is because exercises that cats will be interested in also include a degree of problem solving: How do I get to that food? How do I capture that feather? What's in that box? How do I get up there? which helps prevent them from getting bored and lethargic which, in turn, can lead to obesity. It is also very entertaining to watch, their fitness routine can be better viewing than that boxset you were watching.

Making sure they are getting exercise can stave off a lot of health issues in later life too. Sadly, being overweight is very common in cats, especially in the more sedentary indoor cats. If you are worried about this, check out our vet's guide to weight loss for cats. However, we hope our list of tips and tricks below to introduce cat exercises into your furry pal's life will help keep the pounds off.

1. Play with them

It may seem obvious, but it's sensible to put time aside to ensure you are playing with your little furball at least once a day. Not only is it great to get them moving around and exercising, it's a brilliant way to bond with your pet too. There is nothing like teasing your kitty with a length of string to see them spring into action in a rather delightful and fun way, and it's a form of exercise which will bring you closer together. 

Anything that you can move in a jerky way will likely get their attention and stimulate their hunting skills, but fun cat toys like balls, feathers, lasers and little catnip-filled stuffed toys are tried and tested methods for furry friend frolics.

Remember cats are easily bored, so it's worth ensuring they have a range of toys to switch their attention between. It's also sensible to rotate their availability to your cat to keep them novel and engaging for your fickle furball. 

If you have a new feisty kitty in your life check out our guide on how to play with a cat to get it right from the outset without being bitten or scratched!

Why do cats play with their prey

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Automated toys

Although more expensive, the best automated cat toys or interactive cat toys are a fun way to keep your furry friends fascinated for longer. With the ability to switch off and on at regular and irregular intervals, they help stave off the boredom that can set in with other more static toys. 

There is nothing like something suddenly jumping into life and making off across the floor to get your kitty interested and chasing off after them, burning off some catty calories in the process.

3. Puzzle feeders

There is no better way to encourage your cat to get off the sofa than to tempt them with food. The best cat puzzle feeders combine exercise with eating delicious treats so are sure to pique your kitty's interest. 

Cats are instinctive hunters, so they enjoy puzzling out how to get to their food, and so the challenge these feeders provide are far more stimulating than bowls of feed. It also helps ensure they keep their minds exercised too.

4. Provide things to explore

Cats love novelty, and especially if the new thing introduced into their life has lots of nooks, crannies and levels to explore. A simple cardboard box can engage their attention, or you can splash out on a sturdy cat tree, stylish cat hammocks or even cat tubes to get them jumping and investigating from place to place.

Remember, kitties love surveying from a high height. In the wild it lets them see more of their surroundings to scan for predators and would keep them out of harm's way, this means they are likely to expend the energy to get to them if they are provided. A series of high ledges like shelves, high cat trees or high-slung hammocks will mean they have to work to get to their place of rest, helping them get the exercise they need.

best cat trees

(Image credit: Getty Images)

5. Provide them with scratching posts

Scratching not only keeps their claws in shape but it helps them stretch and burn off calories too. A few sensibly positioned cat scratching posts will help them take out their need to destroy in the right places – i.e. not your curtains - while also keeping them exercised. And if your budget is tight, you can also make your own stylish DIY scratching posts to help you save your furniture and keep your feline fit.

6. Take them for a walk

We know what you are probably thinking: my cat would not respond well to being attached to a lead! However, taking cats for walks is increasingly common, and it's something a lot of cat owners have found their furballs have taken to. The best cat harnesses are designed to be escape proof, comfortable, and relatively simple to slip on and off. 

It's now a lot easy to let your cat explore the great outdoors and get some exercise safely and securely. If you are trying it for the first time, check out our guides on how to put on a cat harness without getting attacked and how to get a cat used to a cat harness.

Cat

(Image credit: Getty Images)

7. Provide them with an outdoor space

If you still think your cat isn't ready for a walk on a leash, you can provide them with an outdoor space to prowl around while enjoying the fresh air if you invest in a cat enclosure. If you have the room for them this is a great way for them to enjoy some outdoor time without having any of the potential problems being free to roam can bring. 

Jamie Middleton is a freelance editor and writer who has been editing and creating content for magazines and websites for over 20 years. As well as writing about the pets he loves, he has helped create websites about tech and innovation like TechRadar.com, Innovate UK and TechSPARK, written programmes for music festivals, books on inventions and architecture, TV listings magazines, and edited publications about cars such as Lexus, Toyota and Jaguar. In his spare time he writes fiction books and poetry - or at least he does when he is permitted to by his cat Pirate, who enjoys the warmth of laptops too much to allow being creative to get in the way.