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Adult cat playing in a cat tree

How much exercise does my cat need?

Cats are naturally active animals and thrive on short bursts of activity to keep both their bodies and minds active and engaged with the world. Outdoor cats will happily spend several hours a day roaming their local environment and hunting.

To stay similarly happy and healthy, indoor cats need to spend a lot of time engaging with you, with plenty of toys to keep them occupied and busy.

This is especially true for growing kittens who need to explore their natural instincts, such as climbing and scratching, in order to develop into healthy adult cats. The good news is you can help your kitten meet their needs and get enough exercise through good old-fashioned play. Plan for several short play sessions each day, with toys (even crumpled paper will do the trick!) and games that encourage your kitten to stalk, pounce, and chase.

When thinking about how often you need to exercise an indoor adult cat, plan for plenty of sessions of play and interaction throughout each day. Care is needed to ensure that an indoor cat's environment doesn't become boring, as this can lead to them being inactive which contributes to weight gain.

Exercise and play are essential for all cats as they provide mental and physical stimulation, as well as encouraging social behaviour. Ensuring your cat has room to play, as well as access to a variety of different cat toys, scratching posts and play sessions with you will help them to stay healthy and happy.

White cat lying down on a table while owner speaks to a vet

Speak to your vet

Meeting your cat's need for regular activity is an essential part of helping them to stay at a healthy weight. Providing the right intensity and frequency of exercise for your cat, together with healthy food portioning, may also prevent them from developing certain conditions that can be caused by obesity, including diabetes and arthritis.

Ask your vet to show you how to identify what your cat's normal and healthy shape is. Healthy cats are well proportioned with ribs you can easily feel, a waist you can see from above and an abdomen that tucks up behind their rib cage when seen from the side.

If necessary, your vet will be able to suggest how to increase your cat's daily exercise and help you with any questions or worries you might have about changes to your pet's shape or weight.

British Shorthair adult in black and white with Body Conditioning Score illustration

Healthy weight isn't only measured on a scale

Weighing your cat is not the only way to check if they're overweight. You can find out if your cat's a healthy weight by asking your vet how to use the Body Conditioning Score.

British Shorthair adult in black and white eating from a red bowl

Healthy portions are smaller than you think

Many pet owners think their cat needs more food than it really does. This means that many cats are overfed; not only can this cause weight gain, but may lead to other health issues.