Obesity and behavioral problems are much more common in indoor-only versus indoor-outdoor cats, probably in large part because of inactivity and boredom. So play is essential to any cat’s health and sanity. Toys that stimulate the prey drive will get cats chasing, stalking, pouncing, and generally burning off energy and steam. A bored cat will find ways to “keep busy,” and those activities generally result in a frustrated owner. If you’ve ever returned home to find that your cat used the dining room table to sharpen his claws, or decided the heirloom grandfather clock was more interesting than his scratching post, then you understand that cats need quality exercise to stay out of trouble.
Besides the “good kitty” factor, exercise will improve your cat’s circulation, stimulate vital organs, aid digestion, and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Your cat will feel mentally stimulated and physically satisfied after a quality play session.
One of the most effective ways to provide the mental and physical stimulation that indoor cats need is to schedule daily, individual play sessions with them. Aim to exercise your cat for ten minutes, four times each day. House cats especially require dedicated playtime because they don’t burn calories and stimulate their feline instincts by roaming outdoors. It’s your job to stoke their curiosity and challenge them with games. A great time to exercise your cat is before mealtime. This way, you cater to your cat’s natural cycle: hunt, kill, eat, groom, sleep. Playtime is your cat’s modern-day hunt-and-kill activity.
Not sure where to start? Begin by stocking your kitty’s toy chest with safe, stimulating options. Cats love things that dangle, bounce, and move-these actions require chasing and pouncing, which are cats’ natural instincts. Use a remote-controlled mouse or even Ping-Pong balls and wads of crumpled paper are a thrill.
Nobody enjoys playing a game if they never get a chance to win. If you wave the toy all over and keep it out of the cat’s reach, it just leads to frustration. Playtime needs to be physically AND mentally rewarding. If your cat chases, pounces, stalks, leaps and attacks the toy but never gets to capture it because you’ve kept it out of her reach, it just becomes a physically exhausting exercise in frustration. The key is also you’re involved in the play.