Everyone knows that dogs need regular exercise, but cats require movement just as much as their canine counterparts do. Here are some compelling reasons to keep your cat moving.
- Physical activity will help keep your cat healthy. Muscles that aren't used grow weak, leaving the animal more susceptible to illness.
- Exercise wards off obesity, a widespread problem among cats as well as humans. A Cornell University follow-up to a landmark feline-obesity study found that about 25 percent of cats seen in U.S. veterinary practices were described as "heavy" or "obese." Their extra weight increased the cats' risk of such serious ailments as diabetes; lameness caused by joint diseases or muscle injury; and non-allergenic skin conditions, possibly caused by the cats' inability to groom themselves properly.
- Active play teaches your cat social skills for relating to people and other animals.
- Regular activity can prevent or solve behavior problems by keeping your cat's mind occupied and allowing her to work off energy that she might otherwise use destructively around the house.
Cats that are allowed outdoors even part of the time usually manage to get sufficient exercise on their own. Running around the yard or garden, hunting prey such as birds and rodents, and climbing trees gives them a good workout. Of course, these benefits must be weighed against the dangers that cats face outdoors, such as cars and aggressive animals.
Continued on page 2: Types of Play