By Kimberly Manning

I’m an avid feline lover. Don’t get me wrong, dogs make fantastic pets, but cat care is just so much easier. However, it does take a bit of effort. Purrballs need exercise to avoid obesity and expend their energy. While cats have a unique digestive physiology that makes it more difficult for them to become overweight than humans or dogs, exercise is important to keep their hearts pumping and quick reflexes sharp.

Show Some Love

One of my biggest pet peeves as a cat owner is when someone tells me “I hate cats; they are mean.” And my reply? A lot of people don’t know that a cat needs exercise. As previously stated, cat care is extremely simple, non-time consuming and requires little effort, but some people use this as an excuse to ignore their feline friends. Kittens that don’t get enough exercise can not only become overweight, but also can turn aggressive, and yes, mean.

When I got my kitten, she was 6 months old. She was very shy, but too adorable not to adopt. The veterinarian said that regular play time would help her develop trust and bond with me. Now, it’s eight months later and she is very lovable and playful. I’d say she wouldn’t hurt a fly, but she would. She loves chasing flies.

Kitten Exercise Tools

If you have an overweight cat, you may want to focus a bit more on play time with toys like a laser pointer, which encourages your kitten to do a mad dash down the hallway. Laser pointers for cats are sold everywhere, and they can keep your furry friend moving swiftly for a long time. Even if your cat isn’t overweight, you should have one of these on hand at all times.

Create a cat-friendly apartment with plenty of places for your feline to jump, hide, wiggle through and climb. Vertical space is your cat’s best friend, and your feline will do whatever it can to jump up to inch-wide surfaces. Some people install shelves along a wall in a unique design that doubles as an art piece and a kitten jungle gym! If you don’t have a lot of vertical room, invest in a cat tower where it can climb.

One of the great things about cats is they will find the least expensive thing to be entertaining. Currently, my cat’s favorite toys are a shoelace and a shoebox. So grab a few boxes, pull the string from an old pair of sneakers and toss a bit of catnip on the ground. Your purrball will thank you.

OK, So How Much Exercise Exactly?

The amount of exercise your cat needs all depends on its age and breed. Feline Nutrition recommends an average of 15 to 20 minutes three to five days a week. However, you can tell when your furbaby is ready to play. Pay attention to its eyes and tail–dilated eyes and a wagging tail means your cat is ready for play time. You also may find that your kitten goes to the same spot when it’s ready to play, like a perch, box or shelf.