How To Exercise An Indoor Cat

Your cat may be an indoor cat for various reasons.

You could live on or near a main road and don’t want to risk their safety, or they may not be healthy enough to venture into the big wide world. It could also be a concern if you are wanting to protect local wildlife.

Luckily, indoor cats are no longer a rare approach. But it is still easy enough to give them plenty of exercise, fresh air and playtime with a bit of help, and you don’t even need to make any changes to your home!

Catios and Enclosures

Okay, well this is the only one which requires a little bit of adaptation.

But if your cat is pining for the outdoors, yet you want to limit just how far they can go, a catio or cat enclosure is a fabulous idea. It allows your cat to have controlled access to the outdoors, and you don’t even have to keep a beady eye on them.

They can attach securely to your house, so your cat is free to come and go in and out through a window, door or catflap.

Don’t worry, there aren’t too many adaptations – simply screw it to your home to ensure it is sturdy. It can be used on a patio, grass or even a balcony, with special models available which are easy to adjust in size.

Catio

We would recommend buying as big a catio as you can. This way, you can fill it with toys, multiple levels for climbing and give them a more ‘natural’ open feel.

You could even join them in there for a bit of bonding time if it is large enough.

Toys

All pets like toys, whether you have a strapping big Great Dane or a teeny hamster. It doesn’t only keep them occupied with mental stimulation, but they also learn behaviour control.

The same applies to cats, although there is an emphasis on movement with cat toys. Interactive cat toys are probably the best option if you want to keep your cat entertained and active. They can chase, pounce, and stalk to their heart’s content without harming anything. And to counteract with the catios, this is probably the easiest way to keep your cat active indoors.

You can also buy toys which require your input, as opposed to being automatically interactive. This can be good for giving them a bit of variety and also teaching boundaries. They will also be less likely to attack your sofa or your ankles if they are a bit more exhausted!

All of these behaviours are what they would naturally do in the wild when catching prey. It is also what your cat would probably do to birds and field mice in your own back garden if they were allowed out, which is why you chose to keep them indoors in the first place.

It isn’t fair on cats to completely restrict this behaviour, but cat toys mean that they can get it out of their system in a controlled environment, and will maybe also learn one day to be a bit more gentle. Cats hunt and chase in short 5-10 minute bursts, so it is super easy to keep them occupied in this manner.

Tip: Feed them after their play session, and then they will feel like they have ‘worked’ for their food

Don’t forget about scratching posts, either. When they are outside, they will find natural surfaces to sharpen their claws on. So, indoor cats may need a few extra scratching options dotted about the house as well as your ‘traditional’ scratch posts, to give it a more natural feel.

Puzzle Feeders

This will give them the mental stimulation they need, too. And the end reward is food, which I am sure we can all agree is a pretty good incentive to get active.

Again, it gives into their underlying hunting needs and will prevent them from getting bored. Having one of these to hand, as well as your traditional toys, is perfect for variety.

Kong does some great puzzles which are easy to hide food in and will last well beyond your cat going a bit OTT.

Exercise Wheel

Yes, you heard right.

“Like a hamster would use?!”

Well…yeah. But larger, of course. And designed specifically for a cat. These large wheels allow your cat to run like the wind without even leaving the living room. So if activity levels are a real concern, and you have the space, a cat exercise wheel like the One Fast Cat Exercise Wheel could be a perfect addition to your home.

It is even great for outdoor cats as it would allow them to burn off some excess energy so they aren’t quite as wild through the night.

Not every cat will probably use it, so it is best for those who have an awful lot of energy to spare. And you must supervise them when using it, as well as ensuring it is always safe to use.

Cat Wheel
Myrtle using her exercise wheel

Cat Harness

Your cat is technically allowed outside, but it is the ‘free rein’ part which you have a problem with. Where are they going? With what other cats are they spending their time?

You may have thought that it isn’t an issue which dog owners face, with their leads and harnesses going on walks. However, this is no longer just for dogs.

You can also take your cat for a walk, using a dedicated lead and harness. It isn’t the norm but is a lot more popular than it once was. They can still explore and get to know their local area (which is good on the off-chance that they do one day escape through an open window or past the postman), but you can keep them back a little bit and ensure they get home safely.

It could take a little while for you to ensure your cat is happy to wear the harness, but once they are comfortable and there is no risk of pulling a Houdini, you can join all the dog paw-rents in the park.