Playtime: the best exercise for your cat!
Cats are designed to be active in short bursts, so playing with them is the best way to make sure they get enough exercise, especially if they live indoors. It’s also a great way to bond with them, and show them how much you love them!
If you’re trying to help your cat lose a few pounds, it’s important not to make big or sudden changes to your cat’s diet or exercise routine. If you have any questions or concerns, your vet will be happy to help. You can also download our guide to getting your cat into shape.
Cats who are bored tend to eat too much and get fat. Help your cat stay active and interested in life by giving them a range of special cat toys and activities.
Remember to keep your cat’s toys clean and throw them away if they get damaged. Getting them a new toy every now and again is a perfect treat, and much better for them than food.
Most cats love playing games, especially with:
- Things they can hit. Cats enjoy batting at light things that move easily across the floor: a ball of paper is ideal. It’s important not to give them anything they can chew up or swallow. If you’re fed up of your cat losing their toys under furniture you can put the ball or toy in a large cardboard box so that your cat can play with it in a controlled space.
- Things they can chase. Wind-up or motorised toys, or a piece of string dragged across the floor, will turn even a couch potato into a hunter!
- Things they can jump onto. Cats love to be up high so making sure there is safe surfaces and space they can jump on and off to help burn extra calories.
- Things they can climb into. Cats can have hours of fun with an empty box or a tunnel.
- Things they can scratch. Scratching keeps a cat’s claws sharp, and tones their shoulder and back muscles. A scratching-post will meet this need – and should save your furniture!
Although it’s tempting, it’s not a good idea to use your hand or fingers as ‘bait’. Your cat will think it’s OK to scratch and bite you – and it’s not, even as a game!
Scratching – claw conditioning
Scratching, or ‘claw conditioning’ is a natural part of cat behaviour. It keeps their claws healthy and leaves scent marks.
Try a scratching post for your cat to help prevent damage to your furniture or carpets. Ensure it’s stable and tall enough for your cat to exercise at full body stretch. If it isn’t, your cat may choose your furniture instead!
Top toys for cats
Looking for vet recommended toys for your cat? Include toys like these in your cat’s playtime, all available from PDSA Petstore:
- Kong teaser toy: filled with catnip, this teaser is a fun toy for your cat to chase along the ground or even leap into the air to grab!
- Kong treat toy: If your cat is motivated by food, this treat toy could be perfect for them! They'll have great fun hitting it about and chasing it, with the added benefit of a tasty reward.
Sometimes our feline friends can seem a bit uninterested in toys and playing. This doesn't always mean they don't want to play. Check out our top tips for encouraging your moggy to be more active.
- Try different toys. Just because your cat isn't playing with a certain toy doesn't mean they don't want to play. Try different kinds of toys. Toys that are interactive for both of you are best, as you can change the speed and pace to tap into their natural chase instinct and get them excited.
- Play at hunting time. Cats are naturally more active at the beginning and end of the day as this is when they'd hunt in the wild. Try playing with your cat at prime hunting time to get them active and feed them after you play (not before).
- Keep it short. Most cats prefer to play in short sessions. They are not built for stamina and get tired after 5-15 minutes. Short bursts of play will help them to focus and stop both of you from getting bored.
- Keep it interesting. Try to vary playtime as much as possible. Playing with the same toy all the time can get dull so try to mix it up. Swapping between different versions of similar toys can be enough to get your cat excited again. You can even try making your own cat friendly toys at home.
- Use food puzzles. Some of our cats are very motivated by food. Try using treat balls and similar toys to feed some of their daily ration. This way your cat gets a tasty treat while learning that playing can be rewarding and fun. Don't forget to reduce the amount of food you give them in their regular meals slightly so they don't put on weight.
Worried about your cat's weight? Find out how to do a simple, at-home check to help keep track of their weight.
Your cat's diet
Advice from our vets about the best balanced diet for your cat and how often to feed them.