Ways To Exercise Your Senior Cat

Ways To Exercise Your Senior Cat

As your cat enters the senior lifestage, they can become more inactive, which makes them prone to obesity. This can lead to other health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. As a cat parent, you want to keep your feline friend as healthy and as comfortable as possible, and much like with humans, cats that continue to play and exercise regularly throughout their lives tend to feel better and healthier. Making sure your cat stays active is one of the most important things to do as they get older.

Here, I’ve put together my top ways on how you can get your senior cat up and moving more!

Dr Carol Doyle Veterinarian

Carol Doyle, BSc VN DVM

Carol DoyIe is a small pet veterinarian in a practice in Ashbourne, Co. Meath and is the human companion to her cats, Nala and Donal, two horses - Indie and Bella, and her dog Phoebe.

As a guest blogger and advisor, Carol shares her professional advice with pet owners, answering many of the questions that she gets asked regularly in-clinic.

Why is Exercise Important for Senior Cats?

Regular exercise is an important element of a healthy life, especially as your cat begins to age. It aids balance, mobility, mental agility, and sustaining a healthy weight.

Although your aging cat may exhibit less interest in exercise, it’s still very important for you to entice your kitty into moving regularly. This way, your cat has the best chance of staying healthy and feeling good for all her years to come.

Exercise Ideas

1. Chase Toys

Playtime is one of the best ways to help keep your cat active. Make sure to play with some of her old favourites as well as new ones to keep her engaged. Chase toys are a great way to keep her entertained; pouncing, grabbing onto, or simply swiping at the toy with their paws is an effective way to keep your cat active. Her whole body will be working as she playfully runs around your home.

Find out what your cat likes or doesn’t like before you invest in anything new to add to her toy basket. Anything that interests her and is safe is always a good choice.

Always go at your cat’s pace and don’t overdo playtime as she may injure herself. Exercise in bursts of ten minute periods before relaxing and letting her take a break.

cat playing inside with a chaser toy by the window
grey senior cat on scratching post lying down

2. Cat Scratchers

Multi-tiered cat scratchers provide your kitty lots of options for climbing, jumping, and playing, making them great for keeping active. Having multiple scratching pads around the house can be a great way to encourage older cats to exercise their body and mind on a regular basis.

However, it’s important to note that senior cats who suffer from arthritis or mobility issues may have trouble jumping up and down from the towers if they don’t climb regularly, so make sure any towers you bring home are ones she can surmount.

When choosing a cat scratcher, make sure to pick one that is big enough for your cat stretch her whole body. Your cat will want a good scratcher she can sink her claws into. Most cats love the texture of sisal, a fibrous rope made from the agave plant. It doesn’t catch onto cats’ claws, and is extremely durable—no matter how hard your cat will scratch!

3. Interactive Toys

Interactive toys such as M-PETS Dizzy Cat Toy or the KONG Cat Laser Toy are great ways to keep not only your cat’s body active, but also her mind. Stimulation and brain games are more important than ever in the senior years, as, just like humans, cats can suffer a decline in mental function as they get older. Keeping playtime interactive with a laser toy (just be careful not to point the laser in your cat’s eye) or a toy that omits sounds can keep boredom at bay and provide plenty of stimulating entertainment.

4. Hide & Seek

A great way to get your cat moving is by playing a simple game of hide and seek. Why not hide some small treats throughout the house? Make your cat work for the treats by strategically placing them in low-down or high-up spots. Just remember to always feed treats in moderation, and not to let her overindulge.

cat playing with M-Pets Dizzy Cat Toy
Walking with cat on a leash kuril bobtail

5. Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys such as M-PETS Sway Cat Toy Tasty Treat Dispenser are another great option to keep your cat using her brain while being rewarded with a tasty treat. Always keep the extra food or treats in proportions so that she is getting the optimal nutrition.

6. Walks

Yes, it is possible to take your cat outside on a leash and harness! Some cats love being able to explore the outdoors with their owners by their side. Taking your senior cat for a short walk around the neighbourhood is a fantastic way to get her moving. If your cat is not used to being on a leash however, it may take some patience and lots of practice. Don’t force your senior kitty into anything she’s not comfortable with, and always go at her pace. Keep an eye on other animals such as dogs (especially those off leash) and wild animals like squirrels.

Any more questions?

If you have any more questions regarding toys to take home to your senior cat or some of our favourite cat scratchers, why not talk to one of Petmania’s PetCare advisors to discuss your options? If you have any queries regarding your cat’s health or exercise tips, I recommend contacting your local veterinarian for the best advice.

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