Cats make beloved pets for any number of reasons. Many pet owners love their cats for their quirky personalities, while others like the companionship of an animal that does not require the same level of hands-on attention as a dog.

As a testament to the love pet owners have for their cats, many would do anything to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. Cat health can be easy to take for granted, as felines are generally quiet, and many prefer to spend ample time alone. However, pet owners must take an active role in the health of their cats, and that includes ensuring their felines get enough exercise. In fact, cats that stay fit and remain active are less likely to become obese and develop diabetes and arthritis.

Cat owners know that the very quirks that make cats such lovable pets also can make it hard to get them to do things they don’t necessarily want to do. But the following are some ways to ensure that cats get enough exercise to stay fit and healthy.

  • Determine which toys cats like best. Some pre-exercise observation can help lay a strong foundation for feline fitness sessions. Cat owners should identify which toys cats seem to like best and then use those toys during exercise sessions to entice participation. Use one or two toys each session and swap them every few days so cats do not grow bored with their fitness routines.
  • Incentivize physical activity. Much like dogs, cats respond to treats during behavior training, and are more likely to engage in exercise when sessions end with a reward. PetMD notes some post-exercise praise, and a few healthy treats can encourage cats to participate willingly in exercise sessions.
  • Don’t overdo it. Cats are not humans, so felines’ fitness sessions don’t need to mirror their owners’ lengthy workouts. Play sessions intended to get cats to exercise can last between 10 and 15 minutes each. PetMD recommends limiting sessions to two or three per day for older cats, while as many as 10 sessions per day can be effective for younger cats.
  • Let cats sink their teeth and claws into a workout. PetMD recommends letting cats sink their teeth and claws into toys during a workout. This type of engagement satisfies cats and will encourage them to embrace exercise sessions. Keep some replacements at the ready in case cats are especially enthusiastic.
  • Employ a laser pointer. Cat owners are undoubtedly aware and likely amused by how much cats are drawn to laser pointers. Make the most of that inability to resist laser light by using a laser pointer during a cat’s workout routine. Cats will chase the pointer all over the room, all the while getting some beneficial exercise.

Cats can benefit from routine exercise just as much as their owners, and there are several fun, and even amusing ways to encourage felines to enthusiastically engage in physical activity.