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Teach Your Cat To Exercise

The only way to get a cat to exercise is to make it FUN.

Start Early In Life
Kittens want to play all the time. Because this often causes mischief, we sometimes scold the kitten, or at least do not encourage play. The ideal is to not only encourage play, but to teach appropriate play. Trouble happens when the kitten makes up the game. If you play interactively with the kitten as it grows up, then this is just part of life and the expected norm.

The ideal is to not only encourage play, but to teach appropriate play. Trouble happens when the kitten makes up the game.

Chase Games
Cats love to chase things since it satisfies the "Chase Instinct" which is based on chasing prey to eat. The oldest version of this is "chase the string" - still quite popular with cats. However, the newer version of this game is to obtain a cat toy that is designed for this purpose. These toys usually have a stiff rod that is attached by a string to an object. One criteria is that the object wobble as it moves across the floor, since this more closely approximates a mouse or other critter.

One great thing about chase games, is that they can be continued up over beds, and around objects which increases the exercise potential.

Scratching Post Exercise
Try to find a floor to ceiling post, or at least a very tall one that has multiple resting pads. This place can then be used for climbing. During active exercise the pole may be run up and down several times in a burst of kitty energy. Even during rest times, it requires some climbing before the nap. Provide floor scratching posts also, since these require use of forearms, and results in a good stretch of the back muscles.

Exploration Objects
The idea here is to take advantage of the cats curiosity to encourage exercise. Intentionally leave boxes or bags or suitcases on the floor for an extra day periodically. The newness is quite attractive to most cats who will jump in and out and prowl around the new object until it is no longer new. This is not exactly aerobic but is better than napping.

Although cats seem to like this game, it promotes aggression toward humans, and should be avoided.

Chase Toys
These toys are usually balls and do not have any strings attached. Some cats really go for this, and will continue to play with the same toy for long periods. If a large box becomes available, try dropping a ping pong ball inside for the cat to bat around.
Another idea is to use the plastic top from a bottle or jar on a slick surface such as the kitchen. Part of the fun is to watch the slip and slide, and the natural flexibility of the cats body. This is like a kitty hockey rink.

One tip on chase toys: rotate.  If the toy is left around all the time the cat becomes bored with it and is less likely to use it at all.

If the object only appears for a brief period, then reoccurs, it is more likely to be attractive enough to chase.

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