By Kathleen Rodgers
Some indoor cats spend their days lounging around the house and don’t expend much in the way of energy. A lazy life can lead to obesity or even to inappropriate behavior caused by boredom. Here are five ways to encourage your cat to exercise. In honor of Leap Day, let’s get those kitties moving!
BEND AND STRETCH
1. A cat tree or a scratching post gives your cat the opportunity to scratch, stretch and climb, then leap down to the floor again. That lofty shelf at the top might end up being your cat’s favorite napping spot, but at least she had to climb to get there.
POUNCE AROUND THE CLOCK
2. Encourage your cat to stalk, chase and pounce on a small point of light that you move along the floor and up the walls using a small flashlight or laser pointer. For variety, use a “fishing pole” toy with a feather or piece of fur on the end of a string. Moving the spot of light or the string in irregular patterns and short bursts helps to simulate prey that wild felines might chase, such as moths, birds or mice.
HIDE AND SEEK
3. My cats love cardboard boxes. I keep one out for them to play in, moving it from room to room in the house and exchanging it for a new one after a week or two. They scratch holes in the cardboard bottom, jump in and out, leap to the top of a box set on its side, and chase each other around playing “king of the box”. Paper grocery sacks are another fun hide-and-seek toy.
4. Put a ping pong ball or a ball with a bell inside of it in the bathtub and watch your kitty chase, toss and bat it around the tub. Bathtub soccer is noisy but most cats really love this game.
LEAP FOR THE STARS
5. Provide safe flat surfaces for your cat to leap to. Allowing kitty to jump from floor to counter, table top, window sill or shelves helps them to stretch those muscles. Keep these areas uncluttered and free of breakables for safety. I keep the cat food bowl on top of the dryer which encourages my cats to leap up and down several times a day.
Offering a variety of toys and activities will keep your kitty interested. Rotate activities to keep your play sessions fresh and fun. Spending just ten minutes or so a day playing with your cat will help keep her active, fit and happy.
Let the games begin!