While cats confined to an indoor environment generally live longer and are at less risk for contracting infectious diseases or injuries, they are at greater risk of becoming overweight due to the lack of exercise. Providing your indoor cat with an enriched environment will increase physical activity and maintain a lean body weight. Here are some ideas to increase exercise for your indoor cat.
1. Walking outside on a lead and harness
Take your indoor cat outside to enjoy the sunshine while you hang the washing out or for a bit of one-on-one time together. Ensure your cat is secured with a harness and lead so he/she does not run away or chase any wildlife. Your cat will love the fresh air while getting some exercise.
2. Vertical Exercise
Cats love to climb and hide at high levels. Climbing is a great form of exercise for your indoor cat and provides great stimulation. If you do not want your cat climbing over your furniture give your cat some furniture of his/her own to climb about. A climbing tower or platforms will be thoroughly enjoyed by your cat. Hide food on the different levels to encourage climbing.
3. Provide an outside cat aviary
Cats are very inquisitive animals. Give your cat an area to enjoy the fresh air. An aviary with platforms and hammocks at different heights through the enclosure allows areas to climb and relax. A litter tray at the bottom and some toys will finish off the enclosure. You could even create a walkway from the house so he/she can access his/her outdoor aviary by himself/herself.
4. Exercise through feeding
Cats are grazers and like to enjoy their bowl of food throughout the day just nibbling a few pieces here and there. You can make your cat’s feeding time more interactive and encourage exercise by hiding food around the house. Hide dry food and treats in corners, on elevated surfaces or under/behind furniture. This will encourage your cat to ‘hunt’ for his/her food.
Food puzzles, food balls and interactive toys are great fun for your cat. There are many items available or you can make your own. Use a cardboard box or plastic bottle, put small holes in the side and fill with your cat’s favourite food. The holes allow the kibble to fall out as your cat throws around and bats the item.
5. Teach fun games
Playing games with your cat such as fetching or hunting is very physically stimulating and fun. Items as simple as a ball of aluminum foil, string with a ball of knots at one end or a laser pointer can provide hours of entertainment. Remember to rotate the toys and activities to avoid getting use to or becoming bored of it.