How to Play with a Cat Exercise Your Cat with Play

BY | February 21 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
How to Play with a Cat

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You probably know that cats need a good diet and exercise just like humans. But when kitty sleeps away most of the day, how do you ensure they get enough exercise? Here are some play-time tips to help.

Like American humans, about 57% percent of North American indoor cats are overweight. In 2008 the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention determined that more than half of U.S. cats were too tubby for their own good. And an overweight cat is more prone to disease and other health problems.

The trouble is, just like with humans, American cats are eating too much and exercising too little. Controlling your catโ€™s food portion is one thingโ€”thatโ€™s in your control as a pet ownerโ€”but how do you get your cat to exercise more?

Stimulating the Kitty Brain

Feral or homeless cats have a whole lot going on in their lives. They have to catch their food; they have to avoid being caught by dogs or other animals; they have to patrol and defend their territory. This, combined with a limited food supply, keeps feral cats trim.

When exercising your house cat, the trick is to mimic the experiences of wild cats, giving your pet opportunities to run and chase, stalk and hunt. You can also hide bits of Iams Proactive Health Adult Original With Chicken Dry Cat Food or other treats around the house as cat's will smell it and search till they find it. This will not only keep your catโ€™s body agile, itโ€™ll help stimulate their mind as well.

Cat Toys

Bored cats tend to lie around more, sleeping the day away and limiting their exercise. This makes the cat even more listless, thus creating a self perpetuating problem.

Giving your cat a variety of toys to play with is the first step in preventing cat boredom. Purchase toys that mimic the look and movements of catโ€™s natural preyโ€”toy mice and birds.

You may have to experiment with various types of toys to see which kinds your cat responds to best. Some cats will play by themselves with toy mice, batting them around the floor, while other cats will enjoy toy birds that you flick and make โ€œfly.โ€

When playing with your cat, try to think like prey. Consider how mice scuttle and stop, change direction, and play dead. Your pet will enjoy the experience a lot more if they get to use their natural hunting skills.

Remember that cats usually only hunt in the wild for 5 or 6 minutes at a time. Donโ€™t play much longer than this. Also, change it up as much as you can. Play mouse with your cat one day and bird the next.

Keeping things fresh and exciting will keep your cat interested.

Cat Gyms

Cats like to jump and climb. They like to perch in high places so that they can keep an eye on their domains. Another way to give your cat activity for mind and body is to purchase or build a cat gym. If you are the handy type, you can even build these cat castles yourself, adding various shelves, hiding holes, and steps as you please.

At first, your cat might be disinterested in playing on such structures, but you can stimulate their interest. Dangle your catโ€™s favorite toy from one of the platforms, enticing them to jump and stalk, thus interacting with the structure. You also may try rubbing the cat tower with catnip. Once your cat associates the play structure with fun times, they will be more likely to return to it.

Cat Walks

Some folks go the extra mile to see if their cat is willing to tolerate a cat leash. Some cats may take readily to being leashed and will enjoy wandering about the neighborhood sniffing and exploring. Other cats will crouch and resist. Itโ€™s worth a shot, as long as it doesnโ€™t create too much stress. Although these walks may not be a highly aerobic activity, they will stimulate your catโ€™s brain, helping to prevent boredom.

Indoor/Outdoor Cats

When bringing a new kitty home, ask yourself which environment is best for your new pet. Indoor cats live, on average, exponentially longer than free roaming cats. Many argue, however, that outdoor cats are happier and healthier. This is a personal choice, and the right decision is based largely on your catโ€™s prior history, and where you live. If you think itโ€™s safe, try letting kitty run and chase out of doors. Behaving naturally, for cats, will ultimately be the best exercise.

The Benefits of a Playful Cat

Our cats are yoga masters, and naturally athletic. Theyโ€™re but one paw-step away from life on the wild side, where missing a mouse meant an empty tummy. Cats donโ€™t have to hunt for a living any more, but the same skills needed for stalking and pouncing translate into play. 

Kittens instinctively play as a way to hone adult cat behaviors and skills, and because play just feels good! Cat play peaks at about 12 to 14 weeks of age, and falls off as felines become adults.

Indoor cats live longer and stay healthier, but since they donโ€™t worry about filling the bowl with dream meals like Fancy Feast White Meat Chicken Primavera , they can get lazy. Kitty couch potatoes turn into tubby tabbies when the most exercise they get is a stroll from bed to the bowl. Thatโ€™s unhealthy for catsโ€”and for their owners. Whenever you get the opportunity use a cat toy like the Kong Laser Toy to give your cat a healthy dose of fun exercise. Here are a few of the benefits of playful cat.

Reduces Tubby Tabbies 

Fat cats just arenโ€™t healthy. Extra weight can lead to diabetes, arthritis, and a nasty condition called fatty liver disease that can kill. Play is great feline aerobics that keeps muscles toned and cats slim.

Engages The Brain

Practicing all the stalk, pounce, bite and play-kill behaviors helps cats stay healthy emotionally. It also works the feline brain. That keeps cats young and can help prevent feline senility that can lead to hit-or-miss bathroom behaviors.

Reduces Arthritis

Most aging cats develop arthritis, but youโ€™d never know it because they donโ€™t complain. Instead, arthritic cats sleep more, hide, and stop interacting as much with their owners. When joints arenโ€™t used, they hurt worse. So playing with cats not only can reduce weight that can aggravate the joints, it keeps creaky joints mobile and less painful. Play is an easy and free therapy owners can do at home, even by simply placing bits of highly enticing foods like Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Chicken & Brown Rice Recipe Dry Cat Food in places harder to reach will make your cat exercise a bit.

Offers A Legal Outlet

High energy cats, especially youngsters, have no off-switch and can turn your ankles into moving targets. Play fighting with claws and teeth hurts, and can damage furniture. Cats indulge in gravity experiments, when the cat paw-taps breakables onto the floor. Turning cat play into structured fun gives them a legal outlet for claws and teeth, while keeping your valuables (and skin!) safe. 

Creates Lasting Bonds

Cats rarely play with anyone they donโ€™t trust and like. So playing with your cat can help you boost the love you feel for each other. Play works great to boost the confidence of shy cats, and to cool the jets of bully cats, so it also can smooth inter-cat relationships.

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.

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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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