Encourage Your Cat to Exercise

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Cats are like people in some ways, and one of the characteristics we share is an individual difference in activity levels. When all factors are considered (general noise and activity level of the home and family, age and health of the cat, and so on), some cats are simply more active than others.

If your cat seems to sleep all the time, there are several things to consider. One is that he may simply be a less active cat. Maybe he’s a great lap cat, content to sit with you while you read or watch television. And you can savor the fact that he will get into much less mischief than his energetic counterparts. If you are out of the house all day, maybe you’re just not seeing him at his most active times. As long as they are physically well, quiet cats are perfectly normal. But every cat, like every person, needs some exercise to keep his mind and body healthy. If your cat is not naturally active, you need to entice him to play.

Start with a visit to your veterinarian for a thorough physical examination. Even subtle problems, such as arthritis or upper respiratory diseases, can make cats seem lethargic. Assuming all is well, try bringing home some new toys (remembering that not all cats are attracted to toys, either). Dangling fishing pole and wand type toys with feathers or bells at the end of a string can be lots of fun for both of you, and they make play time interactive. Some cats enjoy chasing and jumping at the light beams from a small flashlight, while others like to bat at catnip-filled mice. Experiment with several types of toys. And whatever toy your cat likes, remember that its appeal will increase if you put it out of sight between play sessions.

Remember that in the wild, cats hunt by slinking unseen through the brush, locating their prey, then pouncing. You can simulate some of this hunting experience by making a place for your cat to hide and pounce. Throw a towel over a dining room chair or the coffee table. When your cat goes under it (and most cats will), wiggle a toy enticingly just outside the towel.

Cats also love to pounce on hidden prey. Put a piece of newspaper (the crinkly sound can be very attractive to a cat) or an old towel on the floor, and pull a wand type toy along underneath it. Your cat will follow the motion and pounce! Or try making the toy “dart” in and out of an empty box.

If you have a multi-story home, try placing your cat’s food bowl on a different floor from the one he sleeps on, to encourage as much stair-climbing as possible (this is not recommended for litter boxes, which should be very easily accessible accessible). Some cats also enjoy being chased, and this is as good a game as any and will get you moving, too.

If all your efforts are met with a yawn, however, it may be best just to accept your cat for who he is, pick up a book and sit beside him.

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