How Much Exercise does a Cat Need? 18 Exercises and Tips

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Is your cat a little chubby from just lying around all day? It would be a good time for you to take even better care of his health and get him exercising. So how do you start? Well, here I’ll show you all about exercising for cats with lots of fun exercises and tips to cheer your cat up.

The importance of exercise for cats 

Just like dogs, physical activity is also essential for cats to stay healthy in all aspects. The main reason for cats to exercise is their weight, as a sedentary lifestyle can cause them to become overweight, which can lead to other health problems.

An overweight cat is more susceptible to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, respiratory problems (especially in the Persian breed because of its flat face), cancer, and bladder problems, commonly developing feline idiopathic cystitis, which is an inflammation of the bladder. Some signs of this condition are increased frequency of urination, bloody urination, and pain.

On the other hand, movement is important for cats, especially climbing things, so being overweight will affect their ability to move. Therefore, since cats rely mostly on their natural agility, being overweight can be dangerous because they would no longer have enough strength to fall and can harm themselves.

Exercise not only provides physical balance but also helps a cat’s mental stimulation. When a cat doesn’t get enough physical activity or doesn’t expend energy, he is more likely to develop behavioral problems of a destructive nature.

How much time do cats need for exercise? 

While each cat is unique because of its weight and age, there is a standard for how long they need to exercise. Unlike dogs, who can last 1 or more hours at a time doing physical activity, cats require short periods of exercise.

Approximate physical activity time for cats ranges from 20 to 30 minutes per day, but it can vary depending on the cat’s health and stamina. It’s important to distribute the activity time throughout the day or during the hours when the cat is most active in short periods of no more than 10 minutes.

Keep in mind that the time and manner of exercise change slightly at different stages of a cat’s life.

Be gentle and careful with kittens, as they are still developing their bodies. For both kittens and adult cats you can do more sessions during the day, always keeping them short, 3 to 5 minutes.

On the other hand, senior cats are likely to be less active than before, so try to reduce the time and avoid activities that require a lot of physical effort. The recommended sessions for senior cats can be 2 to 3 times a day.

In addition to age, some cats may be more active than others because of their breed. Abyssinian, Siamese, Turkish and Oriental cats are characterized by their high energy. On the other hand, breeds such as Persians, Ragdolls, Himalayans, and British Shorthairs are less active with a languid (fatigued and weak) demeanor.

12 Ways to exercise your cat 

When exercising your cat, avoid using your hands, part of their natural behavior is to be a bit “aggressive” in terms of scratching a lot, especially kittens. So using accessories and toys is more effective for your cat to be physically active.

Laser pointer 

The laser pointer is an excellent tool to get a cat moving, as they see the light and want to catch it. It should be done in a safe environment where no object can break and where the cat can fall if it climbs the wall a little.

To finish this exercise well, I recommend that you point the pointer at a toy that the cat can pick up so that the cat thinks he has caught his prey.

Electronic toys 

Electronic toys are typical for cats as they offer good entertainment. Toys such as mice or fish that move, lint or balls that spin are ideal for the cat to remain in constant movement by wanting to catch that prey.

Spinning wheel for cats 

Just as hamsters run on their wheel, cats also have a wheel to exercise on. This is a great way for your cat to do some cardio, but first, you need to teach him how it works so that he can then just get on it and do his thing.

A cat wheel can be expensive or hard to come by, but you could probably build one yourself if you’re handy.

Catnip Bubbles 

It is a special cat toy to make bubbles with the scent of catnip. It turns out to be very effective since as the bubbles move around, the cat gets attracted to the scent, chases them, and pops them.

Teaser toy or magic wand. 

These toys have the same mechanism as a fishing rod, holding a bait on one end (a mouse, a ball, a feather, etc.). They are recommended when you play directly with your cat since your hands are at a safe distance and he won’t scratch you.

While your cat follows you to catch the bait, you can make him go through different obstacles and make him jump, making the physical activity more productive.

Walking with a collar 

Not many cats tend to wear collars because some like to be outdoors. However, this is highly recommended for cats that spend a lot of time indoors. Walking your cat for a while can be very beneficial for him.

For this, you must put on a harness that fits well and won’t come loose, allowing your cat to escape. On the other hand, introduce the collar in steps so that he gets used to it, first, let him smell it, then put it on and leave it on. When he is no longer bothered, walk him for a while. This way until you increase the recommended frequency of exercise.

Remember to do it only once your cat is totally comfortable with it, otherwise, you will stress him and get him in a bad mood by forcing him to do something he doesn’t want to do.

Cat tree or tower 

They are known for their raised areas for the cat to jump, play and rest. Cats benefit from these as they like to jump and climb a lot, and the cover allows them to scratch and sharpens their claws.

Wall shelves 

If you don’t really want a tower occupying a lot of space, you can opt for a circuit of shelves on your walls. It’s fun for your cat because you can leave a treat for him at the end of the circuit, whether it’s a snack or a toy.

Shelves are great because cats can have a higher view which helps them to better visualize their prey. Make sure the shelves fit securely and won’t collapse under the movement and weight of your cat.

Cat puzzles 

Mental stimulation is also important for cats. Puzzles with which the cat has to move pieces from one place to another or shake until the prize inside comes out are excellent for their concentration.


The catio is an outdoor space, equipped with different shelves and columns for the cat to climb and observe, but enclosed so the cat cannot escape. This place allows the cat to enjoy the outdoors without any danger.

The cat enclosure is fenced so the cat can have a good view and is prevented from getting out. Cats need to explore and feel the fresh air from time to time, visiting the catio is an activity that will keep him/her active.

Obstacle Course 

You can set up an obstacle course using different pieces of furniture in your home for your cat to go through trying to reach a prize or guiding him with a rope or wand until he completes the course.

The setup area should be free of any breakable objects in case the cat makes a sudden movement and drops something.

Bring company 

What better way to encourage a cat to exercise than to bring a friend along? Cats are no pushovers when it comes to play, but when they are with another cat with whom they get along very well they get into a more active state. Activities such as chasing and fighting games are typical exercises that cats do together.


If your cat has health problems that impede him from doing certain activities, try to visit your veterinarian so that she/he can give you the necessary instructions to perform the physical activity safely.

6 Tips for encouraging your cat to exercise 

Although cats like to use their predatory skills such as hunting, scratching, climbing, etc., it doesn’t mean they’re very energetic for these activities. Most cats prefer to rest, especially indoor cats because there is not much to explore or they’re not motivated enough to do so.

So put these tips into practice to help your cat exercise more easily.

Take advantage of your cat’s most active hours. 

You should schedule exercise with your cat during the hours when they are most active. Morning and evening hours are the times when your cat is most active, so they will be more interested in playing.

Keep the sessions short 

As I already mentioned, cats need short periods of activity, not only because they get bored very quickly but also because they cannot resist long periods of activity as dogs do.

The cat will get tired after 5 to 15 minutes, so a short time will allow him to be more concentrated in the activity and he will do his best effort.

Watch your cat’s signals to play 

Don’t force your cat to exercise because you’ll put him in a bad mood and cause him some stress.

Your cat will let you know when he wants to play with you, he will give you signals like getting anxious waiting for you to pick up a toy or inviting him to climb the shelves chasing a rope. Your cat won’t bite you, he will want to scratch you to get your attention to play and his ears will be forward as a sign that he is attentive and ready.

Try different toys 

Your cat will get tired of playing with the same toy and will leave it, so to keep him active and interested in the game, change the toy when you see that he is not interacting much with it. You can use multiple toys such as balls, mice, wands, feathers, puzzles, interactive toys with which you can change the speed so that the cat reacts faster and gets more excited, etc.

Combine the exercises 

Just as the cat gets tired of the toys, it also gets tired of doing the same activity. Since you need to keep the sessions short, start with a new activity after each break to keep your cat active.

Motivate your cat with food 

Some cats will be more excited by receiving food as a reward either at the beginning, during or at the end of the activity. Do this from time to time if you don’t want your cat to suddenly gain weight from eating too many snacks every time he plays.

There are specialized puzzles where you can hide food and it will come out after the cat has shaken it a lot. Also, you can spray the toys with some catnip to make them more appealing.

There are many types of snacks, but if you don’t want to buy them and want to make them homemade, I invite you to read 20 recipes for delicious snacks for your cat.

As you saw, it’s very easy to encourage your cat to exercise, so that you both have fun in the process and above all contribute positively to their health and well-being.