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Exercise for cats confined to the owner's property

Is your cat a bit of a couch potato? A bit chubby perhaps? To avoid possible health problems later in life and unnecessary claims on your cat insurance if you have it, it’s a good idea to put a bit of thought into getting your cat off his or her favourite cushion in the sun and running about.

Cats’ instincts are strong, and even the laziest cat can generally be tempted to swat at a toy jiggling about in front of his or her nose (even if it is only in annoyance to start with). Once you have your cat’s attention, dangle the toy behind something, making it peek out every now and then. Once your cat has woken up and got into the spirit of things, you’ll generally find he or she is more than willing to engage in a game of stalk and pounce.

How long should exercise take?

Cats generally appreciate their human paying attention to them, and 10-15 minutes of your time per day, invested in giving your cat some exercise and attention, generally results in two or three distinct benefits. Your cat should lose weight and begin to show a bit more interest in what is going on around him or her, the interaction will strengthen your bond and you may find that focusing on your cat helps reduce your stress levels too.

Enough is enough

Once your cat stops actively running or pouncing and instead lies on his or her side to swat less energetically at the toy, it’s generally a good indicator that he or she’s had enough for now. As your cat gets fitter, exercise time can of course be extended.

If your cat is confined to your property – providing access to an outdoor escape-proof enclosure is highly recommended and can greatly increase the opportunity for activity and stimulation for confined cats.

Owner supervised trips outside on a harness also provide stimulation and exercise. Cats can be trained to walk on a harness and lead using reward-based training whereby the cat is rewarded with a tasty food treat for walking forward (positive reinforcement). Having two cats that get along well is also recommended for contained cats to provide companionship, exercise and stimulation for each other.