CAThletics: Exercises for Cats

Physical Activity For Cats

Is your cat overweight? Prone to obesity or obesity-associated diseases? How about just plain bored or under stimulated and forming behavioral issues? Lucky for you, we have the solution to your cat’s problems: exercise. That’s right, your cat needs to start getting in some of that good old fashioned physical activity. But you can’t just tell your cat to hop on the treadmill and go for a run, so how do you make sure your cat is getting the exercise and stimulation that it needs? Consult your veterinarian!


When consulting your veterinarian about a physical activity program, they will begin by assessing your cat for any current medical conditions that would restrict exercise. Based on your cat’s current health condition and motivation behind increased physical activity, your vet can begin to recommend a suitable program. 


Once the physical activity eligibility assessment is complete, you should provide your veterinarian with a detailed dietary history. This should also include current and past activity level to help your veterinarian assess your household environment and the recommended activity level.


One of the most important pieces of implementing a successful physical activity program for your cat is understanding its motivations and what will incentivize it to move. For example, if your cat will follow a treat down the hallway then it is food-motivated. If it will chase a laser light then it is hunting-motivated. By understanding your cat’s motivations, you can help your veterinarian recommend a program that is both tailored to your cat and ensures enjoyment. 


Just like any exercise regime, your cat’s physical activity program requires commitment, but not from your cat. In order for your cat to get what it needs out of its specialized program, you have to be committed to the program. The success of the program lies in your interest in ensuring that your cat obtains the desired results. If you know your cat is in need of a physical activity program but are not completely ready to commit, begin with a few simple activities. If you’re highly committed, prepare to take on a number of varied activities. 

Following Up

As time goes on and you proceed with your cat’s physical activity program, it’s needs may begin to change. It’s important to keep an open conversation with your veterinarian about how the program is going, how your cat is reacting to the activities, and how aspects of the program might need to be altered. Doing so will allow you to create a long term plan that will result in a happier, healthier life for your cat.

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