Unlike dogs, which are more than happy to go out and play in the backyard, coaxing a cat to exercise requires more creative strategies. And despite popular perceptions, cats do love to move around and bond with you—they just need to do it on their own terms. As a responsible pet parent, you need to find ways to get your cat to exercise because it’s good for them. This means letting them play with customizable catnip toys and building an enriching environment for them.
Though it’s not necessary to bring your feline outdoors, engaging them in play helps prevent pet frustration. Remember that some cat breeds, such as Siamese and Bengal, require more mental stimulation than others. If they don’t receive the exercise they need, they can develop anxiety and manifest negative behaviors such as not eating enough or not using their litter box correctly. Regardless of breed, though, your cat will find other ways to amuse themselves, including scratching furniture, being overly aggressive, or even overgrooming itself to the point where it loses fur. Thus, you’ll want to provide plenty of healthier alternatives to make sure your pet isn’t understimulated and bored.
To prevent potential cat-astrophes from happening in your home, here are five games that will keep your feline happy.
Most kittens love to play fetch. If you have a kitten, try throwing a ball or a fuzzy mouse and see if they respond to it. More than likely, your kitten will run to the item and begin playing with it—though it may take a few treats to get them to bring it back to you!
Fetch may also work for older cats, especially if they notice that the game requires your full attention. Many cats want their owner’s full attention and will immediately lose interest in anything that is not demanding your complete concentration.
Cats love to explore new places and will become immediately fascinated by an obstacle course. The best part is that you don’t need to buy expensive new equipment for this. Empty cardboard boxes, blankets draped over chairs, a stack of toilet paper rolls, and other ordinary objects can be fascinating to cats if you arrange them and encourage your pet to investigate.
The easiest way to start is with a tunnel. Build a makeshift tunnel using cardboard or old boxes with the top and bottom flaps open. Go to one side of the tunnel and place a treat in your hand. Call out to your kitty and encourage them to follow the treat through the tunnel. Repeat certain words like “come” or “run” each time your cat successfully goes through the tunnel. Eventually, your cat will recognize the cue word and start playing around the obstacle course.
Online Cat Games
Cats are natural predators and love stalking their prey, whether it’s a mouse, bird, or fish. You can encourage exercise by tapping into their predatorial instincts and letting them play online cat games. These games are specially designed to keep your cat’s interest and encourage them to “catch” the fish or bird on the screen. Certain cats may find these games especially entertaining and spend hours just watching the prey animals move across the screen.
Keep in mind, though, to place your computer or tablet on a flat surface. Some cats may become overly excited and jump on your device, possibly damaging it. If your pet is inclined to swat at the screen, it’s best to supervise their play time to ensure that they don’t get hurt or accidentally break your device. It may also help to have some physical toys nearby to give your cat an outlet for their play aggression.
If you want to give your cats something to chase in real life, motorized toys are fun options to consider. These toys move on their own and usually follow random patterns that will definitely excite your kitty as they chase them.
There are a variety of interactive cat toys, depending on your cat’s personal preferences. Some cats love chasing feathers, while others prefer toys that squeak when touched. Pay close attention to what your cat loves to chase, and always select a toy that matches their preferences. You can even create personalized pet products that are customized to your cat’s favorite thing!
Every cat parent knows the joy and confusion of spending thousands of dollars on a new cat toy only to find that their cats just love the box in which the toy was delivered. Though spoiling your cat with a luxurious cat patio or another cat tree is nice, it doesn’t take much to make your kitty happy.
Enriching your cat’s life can be as simple as placing a canvas pet carrying tote bag in the middle of the living room. Cats are naturally curious and will explore any new item, especially if it’s something that they can fit into. Paper bags, empty laundry hampers, and other spaces that give them a small nook to snuggle into will always be a hit with cats.
Consider what your cat likes and work around that for their daily exercise routine. If your cat loves chasing a feather tied to a stick, then use that! You don’t have to look far to find something that will entertain your cat. If they like it, your cat will cherish their new toy forever—or at least for the next few hours. However, do make sure to keep them away from objects that they may accidentally swallow and choke on.
Remember that all felines have their own unique purr-sonalities so you just need to find the right game that interests them to keep them feeling claw-some!