Cat Exercise Tips for Maintaining Feline Health and Fitness

Cat exercise is an important part of maintaining feline health and fitness. It helps prevent obesity, arthritis and mobility problems in old age. There are several ways you can encourage your cat to exercise including catnip, play, outdoor exploration, cat furniture and walks.

Natural Cat Movements

A cat expends energy through movements that mimic hunting and play in the wild. A cat naturally will chase and run as well as scratch. She will also mimic the motion of skinning an animal where she holds onto something and rapidly rubs her paws against it in a direction away from her own face. Your cat won't become more aggressive if she's allowed to do these movements at home. Just make sure that she engages in these behaviors with toys and cat furniture versus with people and couches. Cats also will tend to knead a really soft surface which mimics what kittens do to get milk from the mother. All of these movements help burn calories and expend natural cat energies.


Catnip brings out the natural playfulness and energy of your cat. You can buy organic catnip which is free from pesticides and chemicals. Make sure you're getting pure catnip and not paying for catnip mixed with some other herb. Just putting the loose catnip on a cat tree will encourage scratching, skinning, and chasing behaviors. A toy stuffed with catnip will help entice the cat to the toy.

Play for Aerobic Exercise

Cats are naturally playful so play is an excellent form of encouraging exercise. It's good to play with your cat from as young an age as possible so that she is used to the idea and the toys themselves. Cats tend to respond really well to a cat dancer which is basically a pole with some kind of small toy hanging off of it. You can even make it at home. Use any stuffed toy with catnip or for those on a budget, stuff a very small sock or cloth with some catnip or just stuffing. If the toy is enticing, the cat will chase it and attack it. You can slowly run away from the cat, dragging the toy behind you or throw it towards the cat but not at her.

Cat Furniture

A good cat tree will encourage climbing, scratching, and many of the other natural cat movements. The best tree has places where the cat can crawl into a hollow space and is 4 to 6 feet tall. The taller the better to encourage more climbing. A rope hanging from the tree is an excellent way to encourage play. A nice perch will encourage climbing since the cat will be rewarded with a place to rest and bird watch.

Outdoor Exploration and Walks

Cats love the outdoors and will naturally become more active outside. If you want to protect your cat from outdoor dangers or keep her from running away, you can supervise outdoor exploration in an area enclosed by a high fence with a narrow or slanted top. You can also train a cat to walk with you on a harness, especially if you start with a cat who is 6 to 7 months old.