BY DR NICKY THOMAS, WYNNUM MANLY VETERINARY HOSPITAL
In our beautiful bayside location we are lucky to have access to many walking paths which allow our canine friends to get out and exercise. How can we provide exercise for our feline pets? Whether your cat is allowed outdoors or is kept entirely indoors, it is important to ensure that they have enough exercise.
Why is exercise important for cats?
Cats who do not exercise regularly are more likely to become overweight. There are a number of serious health issues associated with obesity in cats including:
- Heart disease • Arthritis
- Liver disease • Diabetes mellitus
- Skin disease • Urinary tract disease
How can I exercise my cat?
The ways in which you can exercise your cat will vary depending on how they are kept (i.e. either allowed access to the outdoors or kept inside), the age of your cat and your living situation (i.e. house, apartment, townhouse).
If your cat is allowed outdoors they should be kept safely contained on your property. An outdoor cat enclosure will allow your pet to stretch their legs without risk of being hit by a car or getting into fights with other cats. Keeping your cat confined while outdoors will also reduce the likelihood of wildlife being attacked.
Some cats can be taught to walk on a harness or lead – this works best if they are introduced to the idea at a young age.
Exercising an indoor cat can be done in a number of ways:
- Provide horizontal and vertical climbing spaces – cat ladders, hammocks and climbing towers provide a stimulating environment for cats.
- Offer hiding places – cardboard boxes with appropriately sized holes cut out will provide a cat with opportunities to climb in, out and around.
- Safe toys to play with or fetch will get your cat pouncing and running. Take care not to use toys with small parts or strings which may break off and be swallowed.
- Provide human interaction – playing with your cat daily will encourage them to move.