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Exercise for cats indoors: Is Your Indoor Cat Exercising Enough

Is Your Indoor Cat Exercising Enough

The best way to keep your cat healthy and happy is to ensure they get plenty of exercise and are as mobile as their age allows. Unfortunately, sometimes indoor cats do not get the required exercise to keep their bodies in tip-top shape. This may result in them putting on excessive weight which can cause them health problems.

Why keeping your cat contained is a good idea

Keeping your cat safely contained to your property is the best living arrangement for your feline friend. At the RSPCA, we advocate that all pet cats are contained within your property’s boundaries safely. Why? Because it greatly reduces the risk of your cat:

  • Getting lost, injured or hit by a car
  • Getting into a fight and developing related injuries, abscesses or a disease like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Causing a disturbance to neighbours.

But just because your cat is contained to your property, doesn’t mean they can’t get all the exercise they need to thrive, mentally and physically.

A mobile cat is a happy cat

Cats who are overweight are much more susceptible to a range of diseases and even injury. And while having pet insurance can help protect your finances for obesity-related visits to the vet, it won’t protect your cat from falling victim to painful injuries and illnesses. Some common risks for cats that aren’t mobile enough include:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Heart and liver disease
  • Skin problems
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Lower urinary tract disease
  • Higher risk under general anaesthetic (e.g. during surgery).

Protect your cat’s health with enclosures

A ‘contained cat’ doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your cat indoors 24/7. Some owners like to let their cats play outside in a safe escape-proof enclosure. These are specially made fences that arch inward or have rollers fitted to the top to prevent cats gaining purchase and jumping over. They can also be used to contain curious (and acrobatic) cats. For the best-trained pets, some owners find success in letting them roam free in the backyard under direct supervision.

Some owners like to train their cat to walk on a harness and lead, as this can allow them the freedom to exercise outside without the risk of them making a great escape. This should be done with caution, beginning with early training and confining walks to short periods within the confines of non-public areas. Walking on the lead can be dangerous for cats who are easily stressed and is not suitable for many cats. Cats on harnesses should not be taken to areas where there may be dangers such as cars or dogs. Generally, outdoor enclosures or cat-proof fencing are the best options.

The bottom line is that pet cats can, and do, live their best and safest life when contained indoors at home.

4 ways to get cats to enjoy exercise

If your cat needs some motivation to get back to a healthy weight, or just to be more active in their day-to-day life, here are some simple toys and games to share with them:

  • Horizontal and vertical climbing spaces: Cats love to climb, and they particularly enjoy a view from the top. Not only does it make them feel safer but it’s an easy way to encourage them to exercise. Enrichment toys to go with their climbing spaces include cat ladders, window hammocks and cat castles/towers.
  • Hiding places: Playing hide and seek is a great way for your cat to exercise. So, whether it’s playing with another cat or with humans, try to set up some empty cardboard boxes around the house with cat-sized holes cut out of them so your cat can get in and out easily.
  • Safe toys: The right toy can keep your cat amused for hours. Toys that stimulate hunting instincts, such as small motorised toys, are very popular with cats. Just make sure they are safe; so no string toys or small objects that could be swallowed and cause internal obstructions. Also, change up the toys daily to keep your cat interested.
  • Human interaction: You want your cat to be physically stimulated as well as mentally satisfied, so keep them socialised with regular play sessions throughout the day. Give them lots of attention and company, with fun activities to keep their mobility up.

Every owner wants their cat to be safe, happy and healthy. By keeping your cat safely contained you can ensure their risk of injury outside is reduced, but it’s important that they still get plenty of exercise.

For more helpful pet-care tips as well as information on pet insurance, visit RSPCA Pet Insurance today.

Dr Rosemary Elliot 

Dr Rosemary studied veterinary science at the University of Sydney after having established her career as a clinical psychologist, and has qualifications of BVSc (Hons), MANZCVS (Animal Welfare), MPsych (Clin), BA (Hons) as well as previously establishing her career as a clinical psychologist. Her experiences during veterinary training fostered an ambition to focus directly on animal welfare and ethics, with a particular interest in animal sentience and the human-animal bond. Currently working in small animal practice, Dr Rosemary combines her psychology background and veterinary skills to contribute to and promote animal welfare, and regularly contributes quality content to RSPCA Pet Insurance’s Pet Care blog.

5 Ways to Help Your Indoor Cat Get More Exercise

February 3, 2019

It is really easy for indoor cats to become overweight. They don’t have as much opportunity for exercise as their outdoor counterparts, so it is important that you make that opportunity for them. Cats are active in nature; if given the chance, they will play and move around.

It only takes a few minutes a few times a day for your cat to get a healthy amount of activity. Cats are nocturnal in nature, so if you are an early riser or a night owl, you may have more luck with engaging them in activity before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down. Before bed is an especially good time to squeeze in some activity, especially if you have a kitty who likes to run around and make noise in the middle of the night.

When you think about the kinds of activities you can do with your cat, remember they are also natural hunters. Any game or activity that includes them stalking their “prey” is likely to entice their interest.

We’ve put together a list of our favorite ways to get your cat more exercise, check it out below!

Cat Activity No. 1: Cat Tower

Cats love to climb. If you’d prefer that they avoid climbing on counters or refrigerators or cabinets, then a cat tower is a great toy to have.

Most cat towers are made of durable material that your cat can also use as a scratching post. You can get involved in the fun by placing toys on different levels for your cat to climb up and get.

Cat Activity No. 2: Lasers

We’ve all seen the videos by now of cats (along with other animals) chasing around the dot from a laser pointer. This is very amusing for humans to watch, but can also be a great way to engage your cat in some exercise.

Be extremely careful to never shine the light into your cat’s (or anyone’s) eyes, as laser pointers can be very damaging to eyesight. Your cat will love chasing around and trying to catch the elusive dot, and you’ll get a good laugh as well!

Cat Activity No.

3: Leash Training

Okay, we get it, cats on a leashes sounds silly, but hear us out! Indoor cats might be a little nervous about this at first, but it might end up being a very enjoyable activity with your cat and a great way for you both to get exercise!

Always using a harness is important, and starting slow will help too. Break out the leash for walks around the house at first, and then go further and further. Look here for more tips on how to leash train your cat.

Cat Activity No. 4: Non-Toy Options

Having things delivered to your home from online shopping is becoming more and more common. Not sure what to do with those boxes, other than recycle them? Why not let your cat play with them for a bit before you put them in the bin?

Placing a toy inside a box (or a few boxes) is a great way for your pet to get some activity. Cats love going inside of things. You could even put the boxes on different levels so that some jumping is mixed in as well.


Have an old toilet paper roll? Use it as a toy with your cat by rolling it across the floor. There are plenty of things you can do with items you naturally have around the house to play with your kitty. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on toys to help your cat be more active.

Cat Activity No. 5: Food Hunt

As we said before, cats are natural hunters. In the wild they would hunt for their prey, and that is an instinct even indoor cats have retained. Consider splitting their food up into three or four bowls. You can then put those bowls around the house, even on counter tops, or ledges in your home.

The first few times you do this, walk your cat around with you and show them the places you’ve put their food. Then after a while, hunting for their food bowls will become a part of their routine. They get exercise and their meal!

If you have more questions about the ways you can get your indoor cat more exercise, call the experts at Academy Animal Hospital today. They can help you in any way you need with the health and wellbeing of your feline friend.  

What exercises are good for the health of cats and kittens?

Just like humans, cats need exercise to keep fit and healthy. However, they are unlikely to become regulars at the local gym.

Kittens that go outside

When can I start walking with a kitten? A couple of weeks after the re-vaccination, you can start letting the kitten outside. In this case, you don’t have to worry about whether he gets enough exercise. It will instinctively roam, hunt, climb and explore the world around it, getting enough exercise in the process.

Kittens that live indoors

How do you care for a kitten that doesn’t go outside? More and more people are choosing to keep cats exclusively at home. Perhaps this is because they live in an apartment without a garden or yard, for example, or in an area with especially heavy traffic.

If you have chosen a home life for your kitten, you will have to make sure that he has the opportunity to exercise his natural predatory instincts such as hunting, climbing and scratching. He also needs exercise to be healthy and in good shape. Luckily, both of these needs can be met with a game. All cats love to play, but for those who live indoors, this is vital.

Which exercises are best for the development of a cat? The best games and toys will encourage your cat to stalk, attack, chase and kick things in a safe way. She will love toys that move, so anything tied with a string can be a big hit. You can also buy mechanical toys for her to chase. What about a toy filled with catnip? Some pets are just crazy about it. Your kitten likes to climb and hide, and you can encourage this behavior by buying him a cat play set. However, if your budget is limited, then regular cardboard boxes can be a cheaper alternative. Don’t forget the scratching post. Its use will keep your pet’s shoulder and back muscles toned and may even save your furniture!

Keep in mind that cats are smart and therefore get bored quickly. Therefore, toys need to be changed periodically.

In addition to all this, try to play with your kitten or adult cat for at least 20 minutes every day. This will help them keep their joints flexible and keep their muscles toned. It’s also a great way to build a connection between you.

Fat Cats

Another key factor in keeping your cat healthy and in good shape is not being overweight. For example, pets in the UK are getting fatter and fatter, and some experts believe that at least 50% of the country’s feline population weigh much more than they should. At the same time, sterilized cats are especially prone to weight gain. To prevent your kitten from falling into this depressing statistic, just follow a few simple rules.

First of all, feed your kitten a balanced diet, such as Hill’s Science Plan Kitten Food. To find out the correct serving size, just follow the directions on the package.

Do not give treats to kittens. One biscuit for a cat is like eating the whole package (Hills pet study data). If you want to treat your pet, use special treats for pets and consider this in his daily diet.

Make sure your kitten gets enough exercise.

Lastly, keep a close eye on your cat’s weight, and if you notice that she’s starting to get fat, ask your veterinarian to recommend a dietary food, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet.

How does your kitten affect your health

When it comes to health and fitness, did you know that owning a kitten is actually good for your health and well-being? Studies show that, for example, stroking a pet can lower blood pressure.

Of course, this may not surprise you. After all, even without scientists, you know perfectly well how good you feel thanks to your pet.

Contributor Bio

Alexandra Olishevko

Veterinarian Specialist

My name is Alexandra, I am a veterinarian. I have been helping cats and dogs, as well as their parents, for more than 15 years to live together, happily, and most importantly, healthy! I spend my free time with my family, an integral part of which are the two cats Chivas and Bantik, the cat Flower and the dog Bart.

Gymnastics for indoor cats

Many cats live in city apartments without free access to walks. As a result, they get bored and try to dispel the boredom through destructive activities (everyone around is tearing, scratching, chewing) or with food, or both. Physical exercise is necessary for the well-being of all animals, it keeps them physically and mentally fit.

Cats might be happy to do gymnastics, but our cramped apartments do not give them such an opportunity. Letting a cat out of the house in an unsuitable place (near highways and in a crowded city) means almost certainly losing her.

Therefore, cat owners should take care of the lively and fun pastime of their pets living in lockup. From an early age, you should involve your kitten in outdoor games and do this daily so that it becomes a habit for him. In this case, your cat will be healthy and cheerful with minimal effort on your part.

Some can be made to run and jump with toys and anything that replaces toys. And some breeds, oriental, for example, or Russian blues, walk perfectly on a leash with the owner. At the same time, the owner himself gets the opportunity to take a walk.

Gymnastic equipment and toys. When looking for gymnastic equipment for your cat, the first thing to do is to look into the nearest pet store. There you will find a large assortment of toys, and devices for jumping, climbing and sharpening claws. Some of them are worth investing in, while buying others means throwing money away.

The nail sharpener is an essential purchase if you want to keep upholstery, bedspreads and curtains intact, which are the first to be devastated by indoor cats. The damage to the pocket of the owner of such a cat is enormous.

Cat declawing is prohibited in some countries (eg England), in some others it is allowed. This operation, which is performed under general anesthesia, consists in removing not only the claws, but also the last phalanges of the cat’s paw. In England, it is recognized as unnecessary cruelty to animals for the sake of preserving inanimate objects. Claws for a cat are of vital importance – they protect it from enemies; by removing the claws, you make the cat defenseless.

A common nail-turner is a post upholstered in sackcloth and placed upright. It can have different shapes, be multi-story, which will allow the cat to imagine that she is climbing a tree. The purpose of all these designs is the same: to divert the attention of the cat from your household property, to reduce damage from cat claws.

Do it yourself! You can also make such a post for turning claws yourself. It will cost you less and – if you know your cat well – you will get even better building than what is sold in the store.

Find an inconspicuous corner in your house, preferably one where your cat likes to sit. Attach a small plank (45-60 cm in length) to the wall in this place, and nail or glue a piece of rough cloth or, even better, thick leather to the plank. The skin of a cat is especially valued, which can be confirmed by the owners of leather furniture.

The simplest exercise equipment for a cat (and other animals as well) can be an empty cardboard box, which can be obtained at or near any store. Give this box, after opening the lid, into the possession of your cat, and it will soon become her favorite toy: the cat gets in and out of it, hunts for the shadow of this box and for someone invisible who is hiding there.

To make a cat’s life even more interesting, make a small hole in the side of the box so that the cat can barely fit in, close the top tightly and watch your cat explore this “cave”. You can turn it into Aladdin’s cave by putting a treat inside, preferably so that the cat can’t just grab it and run away.

Climbing facility. All cats love to climb and climb. A cat sitting hopelessly at home should also have such an opportunity. A simple construction of wooden planks bolted together can easily be made by hand. This structure will keep your cat’s attention for many hours. If this is a simple design – of course, it must be safe for the cat – it can be remade from time to time, changing the shape, height, dimensions, as in a children’s “constructor”.

A small piece of treat placed on one of the “branches” will warm up the cat’s interest in this gymnastic apparatus.

Related article
10 games for your cat

Toys. Balls, toy mice, bags filled with catnip will bring a lot of joy to your cat; they do not require large expenses, they are easy to buy or make yourself. In the latter case, make sure that these toys are 100% safe – that there are no sharp corners, toxic materials, and that these toys are not too small and cannot get stuck in the cat’s mouth or throat.

Empty spools of thread are very popular with cats. Also safe are pieces of wood left after building a climbing tree. Ping-pong balls, tennis balls, and even golf balls that are thrown away at the first sign of wear will delight your cat.