6 of the Best Ways to Keep Your Cat Active Indoors, According to a Pet Behavior Expert
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy as humans. But how about our feline friends?
Mary Molloy, CPDT-KA, behavior consultant with Behavior Vets of NYC, says that exercise is definitely important for cats—especially indoor cats, who don't usually get as much exercise as cats who might spend their days roaming the great outdoors. A lack of exercise can create obesity issues and even serious health problems for cats... but on the other hand, just letting your kitty roam free outside can pose a host of other health and safety issues, as well.
Molloy recommends that you aim for 20–30 minutes of exercise and play each day for your cat. In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can also help prevent boredom. "Cats who don't get enough [mental stimulation] can become bored and lethargic, and this can give rise to stress, behavior problems, and obesity."
RELATED: 5 Signs Your Cat Needs More Playtime
Molloy says that just like with us humans, running or walking on a treadmill can be an excellent way to sneak some exercise into your cat's daily routine, but it might not be as easy as hopping on the classic cardio machine that we're used to seeing in the gym. "[Cat exercise wheels] are definitely good options for physical exercise, especially if you have a breed that's very active," Molloy says.
Molloy continues, "Give them a week or two to explore it on their own and get comfortable with it. Leaving the occasional treat on it can encourage exploration. Once they're used to it, most cats can easily be trained by luring them with a favorite toy or treat."
She also recommends introducing your cat to his new exercise wheel slowly and when he's alert and active. Molloy has a few recommendations for exercise wheels and notes that many of the smaller ones shown here are best suited for kittens, and the Cat Running Wheel option from Etsy stands out as a quality option for full-grown cats.
Below are a few cat exercise wheel options that range from budget to luxury items that can help keep your kitty in tip-top physical and mental shape.
Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Cat Wheel
Shopping for a cat exercise wheel is a cinch with this style from Penn-Plax. It features a sizable wheel so it's great for bigger or more active felines. The lining is made of sisal and carpet so your cat will have a variety of materials to sink her claws into.
Shop now: Penn-Plax Spin Kitty Cat Wheel, $221; chewy.com
WUQIAO Cat Exercise Wheel
Choose from a small wheel option or a larger wheel for your kitty's exercise routine. Either size comes with a wheel containing corrugated paper that can be appealing to your kitty as he runs and scratches on this handy treadmill wheel.
Shop now: WUQIAO Cat Exercise Wheel, $246; amazon.com
All Living Things Exercise Wheel
The small size of this exercise wheel makes it perfect for small cat breeds or kittens who could use a bit more entertainment and exercise in their daily routines. It's also a no-frills option that comes in at a budget-friendly price point.
Shop now: All Living Things Exercise Wheel, $20; petsmart.com
Cat Running Wheel
What could be sweeter than seeing your kitty enjoy his new exercise wheel? How about a personalized exercise wheel made from sturdy wood? The interior blanket lining can even be taken off and washed, making it super simple to clean up. You and kitty will love it!
Shop now: Cat Running Wheel, starting at $388; etsy.com
Penn-Plax Wheeled 35-in Sisal Cat Tree
When a cat wheel just isn't enough, turn to cat trees or activity centers such as this option from Chewy. At 35 inches, it's big enough to entertain and exercise your cat effectively yet it won't take up a lot of space in your home or apartment.
Shop now: Penn-Plax Wheeled 35-in Sisal Cat Tree, $245; chewy.com
Ewald Luxury Cat Tree
For those cats with more discerning tastes, consider this luxury tree option. Made of pine, it's an environmentally friendly wheel that will keep kitty entertained and in shape thanks to both the exercise wheel and scratching posts built right in. A cozy pad gives cats a cozy place to nap after tiring themselves out with all the exercise.
Shop now: 58" Ewald Luxury Cat Tree, $290; wayfair.com