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If you think our distant human ancestors were extremely active back in the day, imagine what life was like for your cat’s relatives before they enjoyed provided food, cozy laps and other care. Physical activity was survival -- not just exercise.
Most healthy cats need to maintain a certain level of activity for basic physical fitness. Their bodies evolved to handle this -- not a couch potato lifestyle. While it’s difficult to tone individual cat muscles, you can encourage your cat to get sufficient exercise for overall body toning.
The ASPCA offers the following tips for making exercise interesting and enjoyable for your cat:
Stay engaged. Cats don’t usually like when you plunk a toy in front of them and then walk away. They are far more interested in spending time with you, so set aside time each day to encourage your cat to play.
Try leash training. Teaching your cat to walk on a leash is a tremendous health investment. The sights and smells will get your cat excited about walking, and this gives you an incentive to walk more as well.
Invest in climbing objects. Enclosed outdoor areas with cat trees and other objects for climbing can also help to get cats interested in physical activity while staying safe. Consider adding one to your home, if possible.
Determine your cat’s preferred method of play. Some cats like to jump. Some are more inclined to run. Some are stalkers. Purchase cat toys with these preferences in mind. The old adage about how kids prefer to play with the box instead of the toy may hold true for cats. Old Ping-Pong balls, cardboard boxes, paper shopping bags, and packing paper can all be toys to a cat with a little coaxing. Usually if you are interested in an object, your cat will be too.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: