Anyone who has ever brought a cat into their home knows what cats enjoy doing most. They love sleep. They love it so much that an African lion will sleep anywhere from 16 to 20 hours a day. While most of us are not shacking up with the king of the jungle, their smaller, domesticated cousins share this affinity for rest and relaxation.
Any animal that sleeps as much as a cat needs to offset their inactivity with periods of exercise. Not doing so can have an effect on their physical and mental wellbeing. The most obvious ramification is obesity. According to a 2011 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, over fifty percent of our domestic felines are overweight or obese. Obesity can then have further health complications such as arthritis or liver problems. Like any other animal, fitness is a key ingredient to ensuring longevity.
Other Effects of Not Getting Enough Exercise
In addition to health concerns, not providing daily exercise can create a stressed or bored cat. This can cause the cat to scratch and chew furniture, climb on prohibited surfaces or act hostile toward other pets. It is not uncommon for bored cats to take their frustration out on the carpet or armrest of a couch. It is easy to blame the cat in this instance. However, it is important for pet owners to understand what this type of behavior can mean. Providing an active environment can halt destructive behavior and improve a feline’s temperament. It is also important to supplement their diet with the proper nutrients in order to boost mood and energy.
How to Help Your Cat Get Ample Exercise
While exercise is clearly necessary, how should a cat owner go about implementing a workout routine? If you've ever heard the term "herding cats," you'll know it’s not as easy as popping a cat on the treadmill. There are many toys that will aid in getting a feline frolicking. One of the most popular options is a laser pointer. Few cats can turn down the sight of a small red dot of light. A few minutes a day of darting from room to room may be all your pet needs to feel great. Small life-like mice can provoke a cat's natural hunting instincts. Catnip is also a useful tool for cat playtime. Not all felines react to the plant, but those that do can use it as an exercise supplement.
Now that you know what can happen to your cat, your sanity and your physical possessions when daily exercise is lacking, it’s important to find what gets your cat up and moving. No two cats are the same, so what works for one breed or age may not work for the next. Finding what works for your kitty can lead to a very happy and healthy life for your feline friend!