Fitness for Felines

Guest article by Dan Richardson. If you’d like to submit an article for publication, click here.

How much exercise does your cat need?

Cats like an easy life. When all your food is catered for and you have comfy, warm spaces to curl up in and sleep, then why would you bother venturing far outside your own home on a regular basis? However, with more and more cats being increasingly confined indoors or being restricted in the amount of time they can spend outside, there is growing concern that cat lovers are doing more harm than good to their cats by restricting the amount of exercise they get.

A 2011 study by the University of Illinois which was based on data tracked over two years revealed that outdoor cats have much larger territories than expected. This study was conducted on pet cats and feral cats, and while it was no surprise that the feral cats travelled much more widely than the pet cats did, it was a surprise that one of the feral cats had a territorial area which was 547 hectares (that is 5.47km squared…or 2.1 square miles)!

However, it is true that feral cats spend a lot more time active than domestic cats because they have to spend more time seeking food and are therefore likely to travel further in their search for a meal.

However the average house cat that sprints around the house a couple of times a day but probably travels no more than a few hundred meters everyday doesn’t even get the tiniest fraction of exercise that free roaming outdoor cats get.

While it is difficult to say exactly how much exercise any one cat really needs, we certainly wouldn’t say your cat needs to be running miles a day. However a good target for most cats is 20 minutes of physical activity per day.

It is worth mentioning that young cats and kittens will generally keep themselves highly active exploring and causing mischief however older cats may take a bit more persuasion.

How to Get Your Cat Active

Thankfully there are loads of options available when it comes to keeping your cat active, healthy, and happy.

1. An easy free way to get your cat moving is to employ the ball of string or feather attached to a piece of string method, simply wave it around and your cat will burn plenty of calories chasing it for as long as you are prepared to keep playing! This is the simplest option but arguably the best way of playing with your cat because it stimulates their hunting instincts.

2. If you are a busy cat owner and prefer less proactive methods of exercising your cat which require minimal supervision then there are still loads of options are available. One of the easiest methods of getting your cat to move with minimal cost and effort is simply to fill a sock with catnip and let your cat go to work on it!

3. If you are willing to spend a bit of money to get your cat into tip top shape then you could invest in a cat wheel. These are treadmills for cats (you can find out more information about cat wheels here) and are an extremely efficient and highly effective way of getting your cat some serious exercise within the confines of your home! This is a particularly good option for very high energy cats such as Bengals. However you may find it a bit more difficult to train a less energetic cat to use one. Having said that, with enough persistence, treats, and laser pointers, even the most stubborn of cats can learn to enjoy and use a cat wheel with a few weeks of work.

4. Another way of encouraging cats to be more active is to ensure that your home has plenty of vertical space available for your cat to climb up on, this can be as simple as shelf space and wardrobes which are within jumping distance or you can attach empty drawers to your walls to create an exciting indoor ladder for your cat to explore. You could also get a cat tree or two but there is no need to go overboard on these when a cat will be just as happy with being able to climb on top of your cupboards!

There are of course many many more ways of keeping your cat active. These are just a few ideas which we hope will help you keep your cat happy and healthy for many years to come.

If you’d like to submit an article for publication, click here.

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