Pet owners everywhere know how lazy cats can be. Our furry friends love to snooze—so much so that they might spend all day lounging on the bed or the couch, hardly moving a muscle! However, it’s not healthy for our cats to perpetually engage in lazy behavior.
Unfortunately, getting cats to move isn’t as easy as it might be with dogs. Cats aren’t prone to taking walks or getting excited by a frisbee. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get your feline friend on their feet! There are many ways to encourage your kitty to get up and get moving.
Why activity is crucial for cats
Although your cat’s preferred activity might be napping in a sunny spot, it’s critical that they spend some time running and playing each day. Physical activity is necessary for cats for many reasons.
First, cats need to move in order to burn calories and keep off excess weight. Lazy cats are more likely to become obese, which comes with its own set of health risks, including diabetes and arthritis.
Second, physical activity is good for your cat’s mind! Playtime keeps your cat’s body and brain stimulated, which can help prevent cognitive decline and improve their mental health, so they don’t succumb to anxiety.
Tips for keeping your cat active
Getting a lazy cat to start exercising is often easier said than done. However, without daily activity, your kitty might be at risk for both physical and mental health problems later in life. If your cat doesn’t like to move, here are a few tips to get them active.
- It starts with you: The number-one thing to remember is that it is your responsibility to ensure your cat exercises every day. Your cat might not be lazy—they might be bored because you haven’t given them the attention or stimulation they require! After all, it’s hardly fun to play by yourself! Dedicate at least 20 minutes every day to playing with your cat, encouraging them to move and be active. Use handheld toys and other items that encourage your cat to run and jump instead of ones they can play with while lying down.
- Find toys they love: In addition to taking time to play with your pet, it’s also your responsibility to find toys your pet loves. Some cats are intrigued by balled-up pieces of paper and toilet paper rolls, while others love ping-pong balls or stuffed toys. If your kitty doesn’t seem interested in the toys you have, try out others until you find the ones that interest them. There’s bound to be something that entices your cat to play! Make sure you change up your cat’s toys, too, so they don’t get bored.
- Use a laser pointer: Laser pointers and flashlights are many cats’ weaknesses. The little red or white dots seem like prey to your cats, activating their hunting senses and enticing them to chase the light around the room. These toys are great for exercising cats because they encourage your cat to walk, run or even sprint around, helping them move more than they might normally. You can even purchase an automated laser toy for times you can’t hold one yourself!
- Play chasing games: Lengths of string and feathers also trigger your pet’s prey instincts, making them excellent toys to encourage your kitty to chase. Dangle the toys and flit them around on the floor to simulate a bird and have your kitty run around to catch it. Just make sure to put these toys away when you’re done so your cat doesn’t swallow them! Battery-operated toys are also great for chasing games. These typically move on their own in randomized patterns, giving your cat an opportunity to chase and hunt.
- Go vertical: Running isn’t the only thing your cat can (or should) do! Cats have powerful legs that allow them to climb and jump. Entice your furry friend to move in other ways by providing them with vertical spaces, such as cat hammocks, cat trees, pet-safe shelves and more. Leaping up and down on these spaces is good exercise and promotes balance and confidence in cats.
- Take them on walks: Although most cats stay indoors, it is possible to train your cat to go on walks outside, just like a dog! You’ll need a harness and leash to ensure your cat stays safe, and the process of training your pet might take a while as they get used to being restrained. However, adventurous cats take quite well to outdoor walks and will love the exercise and new environments to explore!
- Get them a furry friend: Some cats don’t find running around the house alone entertaining. But if they had a furry friend to play with, they might be more inclined to get up and move! If it’s possible for you to adopt a new cat (or even a dog), consider doing so to give your resident cat a companion to chase and romp around with.
If you’re still struggling with getting your cat to move, entice them using treats as a reward. When your cat knows they’ll get a tasty treat at the end of a play session, they’re sure to get up and have some fun!