Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Feline Fitness: Cats and kitties need exercise too!

Do cats need regular exercise? You bet - and for the same reasons that dogs and people do! Step outside on any given day that the weather is nice, and you'll most likely see someone walking or jogging with a dog. For most people this isn't an unusual sight, but have you ever considered the idea of walking a cat?

People take their dogs everywhere these days; there are even dog-friendly "yappy hours," (at least there are here in New Orleans,) where Fido can have a non-alcoholic drink and a treat while you get your sip on and enjoy a little grownup time out, so why wouldn't it be natural to give kitty a chance to get out of the house as well?

Petite Pet Care client Prudence at play in the grass.

While some cats will easily walk beside you as you take a stroll (with or without the dog), most will need their own special harness and a little bit of training so that they can feel comfortable and safe at your side. Of course, the harness will also keep them from dashing off after, or away from, other animals.

It will take a little time to leash train your cat, but in the end it will be worth it. Many people feel bad about keeping their indoor cats inside full-time, and leash training is one of the ways to safely let your cat spend some quality time outside. (See the links below for step-by-step instructions on how to train your cat to walk on a leash.)

PPC pet sitting client Pip actively at play.

Just like with dogs, walking isn't the only way to help kitty stay active. Cat's love to play and have the uncanny knack of being able to turn just about anything into a toy, so it's only natural that engaging in interactive play with your indoor cat twice per day is the ideal way to keep her active, fit, and entertained. (See our previous post The Importance of Play and Your Cat.)

PPC client Leroy pausing during play.
Regular aerobic activity will not only keep your feline family member healthy inside and out, it helps to discourage undesirable behaviors. and your play time workouts will strengthen the bond between you. Pet obesity is a huge problem, and regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight. Getting some exercise is especially important for older cats that are not as active as kittens and can lose muscle tone.

PPC pet sitting client Ringo enjoying the outdoors.

Who let the cat out? While some cats regularly go in and out of the house, these are usually not words anyone wants to hear unless you happen to have an outdoor cat run or a kitty condo in the back yard. If you're one of those folks who feels bad about your cat having to be inside all of the time, a kitty enclosure could be just the thing for your fur baby.

Cat condos, or catios, are simple or elaborate enclosures that are screened in to allow your indoor cat to spend time outdoors without you having to worry about safety hazards. The idea is to give your cat enough room to have some space to turn around easily as well as and something to climb. No patio or back yard? You can attach a small box to a window to allow your cat to experience the smells and sounds of nature.

A cat run is a lot like a chicken run. It's basically a low, covered tunnel that allows a cat to roam around an outdoor area and experience being outside without getting into any trouble. The run can be on the ground or attached to the side of a house or fence.

Any one of these measures will do a lot for your cat's quality of life. Don't worry though, if you can't just can't manage to work in two play sessions a day with your cat, you can give us a call!

For more ideas for keeping your cat active, see our Pinterest board, Cat Culture.

Useful links:

Nine Lives, One Leash

Training Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

10 Cat Exercises You Pet Will Enjoy

Exercise Ideas for Indoor Cats

Useful Ways to Help Your Cat Exercise

Easy DIY Cat Enclosure

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