Pet cats seem to just laze around all they, don’t they? When we look at their counterpart wild cats, it is true that they do spend a fair amount of the day resting. But they also have intense bursts of activity when they hunt down their prey. In addition, cats are naturally carnivores and are thus adapted for a diet of mostly meat. Domestic cats who are fed commercial cat food usually get more carbohydrates than they should, leading to increased body fat and chances of obesity.
These all point to the fact that most pet cats do not engage in enough physical activity. Regular physical activity is not commonly seen as necessary for cats. Not in the same way that daily walks are considered good for dogs, for instance.
Exercise and physical activity can help prevent your cat from becoming overweight or obese. Obesity is the condition of being 15% (or more) above the ideal body weight or IBW. Obesity can lead to various health problems such as cardiovascular problems, difficulty breathing, liver impairment, and even muscle injuries and arthritis. Physical activity will help speed up your cat’s metabolism, as well as burn off any excess fat or calories.
But how can you get your sedentary domestic cat to engage in physical activity? When speaking of cat exercise some people may get the ridiculous notions of a cat on a treadmill or lifting tiny weights. Some may even envision putting the cat on a leash and walking it much like you would a dog! But this will not work as well, because cats are independent creatures, and will not take kindly to a leash.
The key thing to remember when thinking about cat exercise is: cats are hunters. They are adapted for hunting and bursts of physical activity, and will soon ease into an “exercise program” if it is implemented with this in mind. Exercise for cats should be looked at as more of playtime, in fact.
Investing in some toys for your cat is a great idea. Toys that are furry or look like mice or birds are ideal for getting your cat to stalk and hunt and pounce. Toys that roll or can be pawed across the floor will also work, as well as toys that have bells or make noise. That is, anything that can seem alive will be played with by your cat. However, do not let your cat grow accustomed to these, as the novelty will wear off. Bringing a toy in every other day can be enough to get your cat to play.
The presence of another cat can be another good incentive for physical activity. Cat siblings usually enjoy a bit of roughhousing, and this was originally meant as training for their future hunting. This is a great exercise for both cats. Be sure to step in, however, if any wounds are evident, or if one cat is clearly stronger than the other.
Getting your cat to “exercise” is not as difficult as it may sound. Invest in a few toys (or another cat), and spend some time each day playing with your cat, and see him become healthier and more active.