Cat on cat wheel exercise machine

how to get your cat to exercise

cats are often sedentary — in other words, lazy. not only does this make cats ideal for apartment living (yay!), but it makes them more predisposed to obesity (boo!). as a result, we veterinarians see a lot of medical conditions arising from complications related to obesity, including:

·      diabetes mellitus

·      osteoarthritis

·      cardiac problems

·      pulmonary problems (e.g., asthma, etc.)

·      orthopedic disease

approximately 60 to 70 percent of cats in the United States are considered overweight to obese, and this number continues to grow. so, how do we address this problem? one easy way of doing so is to help keep your cat in shape — both physically and mentally.

by increasing your cat’s physical activity, you can help improve its quality of life and health. this also helps to provide environmental enrichment, which helps keep your cat mentally sharp, too.

below, are a few tips to help get your cat to exercise:

force more steps. if you live in a larger home, consider moving the food and litter boxes to different floors. this forces your cat to walk several flights of stairs a day and become more mobile.

commit to five minutes of playtime a day with your cat. five minutes, folks! that’s it! with 1,440 minutes in a day, five minutes isn’t much. set your smartphone timer, and enjoy a little playtime with your cat. use a feather on a string or laser pointer to start.

get more cat toys. everyone needs more cat toys (especially since they all end up getting lost under the furniture!). toys provide a great opportunity to help your cat be more active. try toys like crinkle balls or balls with bells inside to make your five-minute playtime more fun.

get a buddy. if you only have one cat, sometimes bringing a second feline friend into the house will increase playtime and chase time! keep in mind that older cats typically don’t enjoy the youth of a kitten, so if your cat is more mature, consider adopting an adult or middle-aged cat instead.

leash-walk your cat. familiarize your cat with a leash by walking him or her outside on a leash. with the right equipment (e.g., a securely fit harness) and proper training (e.g., treats and positive reinforcement), you can train your cat to walk on a leash. with some patience and perseverance, you can get your cat used to this.

consider a treadmill. believe it or not, but with weeks of training, you can slowly get your cat to walk on a treadmill.

cut back on the food. okay, granted this isn’t a way of getting your cat to exercise, but the slimmer your cat is, the more mobile he’ll be. talk to your veterinarian about a lower calorie and lower carbohydrate diet, and consider exercising your cat with more treats instead (throwing treats across the room so they have to run and sprint to get them). consider putting your cat’s meals in a toy and meal interactive dispenser, which makes them work to get their food out.

help keep your cat healthier by implementing these easy steps into your four-legged friend’s life now!