The Six Do’s and Dont’s of Cat Fitness and Exercise

1. Starting from scratch- a Rescue Adult with no or unknown previous exercise or fitness level

Congratulations on getting your new cat and well done for welcoming a pet in need into your home. The first thing to note is that you should gradually introduce your cat to her new home to prevent over stimulation which will lead to fear and aggression. Therefore, allow her explore one room only (introduction room), before branching out to other rooms. If other pets are in the household introduce her slowly to them. First by smell, then sight and finally physically let them in the same room under your supervision.

DO: In her introduction room offer: scratching post, bed, high perch, window perch, a hiding place, cat friendly toys, food/water bowl and litter tray. Store the bowls and litter tray at opposite sides of the room.

DON’T: Let her outside the house for 6-8 weeks so she can have time to realise that your home is now her home too.

2. Kittens!

Kittens are furious fluff balls of energy ready to pounce on anything that moves. However, these energy reserves are short in duration as kittens require 18-22 hours of sleep per day! So let her sleep and play when she wants.

DO: Encourage times of play with cat friendly toys and have fun creating a special bond between each other.

DON’T: Allow your hands or feet to be a toy as this is not cute or fun with adult teeth and claws.

3. Indoor Cats

Indoor cats need exercise on a daily basis. The best way to allow for this to to let her exhibit her natural behaviours.

DO: Use toys that she can chase and pounce on, such as a feather on a string. This is prey imitation playtime as it allows her to exhibit her hunt instincts. Check out our Facebook video on cat behaviour for more information on this.

DON’T: Leave the same toys out all the time. Rotate them to keep her interest.

4. Older cats

Cats can live up to the age of 20 years. A cat is considered middle aged from 7 years and geriatric from 11 years. So we must keep in mind her limitations as she ages but still keep her active and young at heart.

DO: Continue to play and encourage her curiosity with her favourite style of play and toys. She may find it harder to climb so make a ramp or a stair way to her favourite perch to help her keep active.

DON’T: Assume that her slow mobility is just “old age”. It could be arthritis which is a severe pain of her joints. Health check ups at Your Local Vets are recommended every 3 months for adult cats.We offer great health packages for cats, see
http://www.petcarevets.ie/petcare-plans/ for more information.

5. Overweight and Lazy Cats

At Your Local Vets we have a body condition score that allows us to clarify if she is under or over weight. The ideal body condition score is 3/5. For more information on this topic see here, https://www.cathelp-online.com/health/bscore.php

DO: Keep her routine with the same feeding time but allow for a slow gradual increase in exercise time to prevent injuries or stress.

DON’T: Expect her to take to her new exercise regime straight away. Keep encouraging her and as she gets more used to the idea, the more she will get involved. Remember she is crepuscular, which means she is most active during the hours of dawn and dusk.

6. Cats with medical conditions

If your cat suffers from a long term illness she will still need to be encouraged to exercise and keep fit. She will develop further health issues if she lives a sedentary lifestyle.

DO: Ask your vet about how to keep her exercise and fitness levels up during a period of illness or for a long term illness. We can help you with this, just book a full health check appointment online here.

DON’T: Assume that she can’t or shouldn’t exercise if she has a certain health condition.


By- Maria Reidy RVN.
Maria is A Registered Veterinary Nurse working at Petcare Vets Charlesland. For more great advice and services, 1 on 1 Nurse Clinics are available with Maria by calling  012870321 or using our Book an Appointment Online Button. For more information click here

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