Indoor cats need exercise, whether they want it or not

By Claudia Fisher
March 24, 2020 03:25 PM
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Over the past few weeks, the time I have spent with my cat has far surpassed our normal daily hourage. My love has not grown (how can infinite grow?), but my awareness of her daily routine has. Scattered in different areas of my apartment, toys, scratch pads, and bedding accessories lay barely touched or completely ignored. I always assumed she got up and entertained herself for at least a little bit during the day, but my new WFH structure has shown me that Luna truly does revel in the languorous atmosphere of a do-nothing day. All she does is sleep. Literally all day. (Occasionally she sips from her flower water fountain.)

The only exercise my cat gets is running to her food bowls at breakfast and dinner, and I’m starting to get a little concerned. According to PetMD, cats are blessed with a naturally high metabolism, but exercise is still important for maintaining healthy body weight and muscle tone as well as an alert mind. It’s advised to get your cat to play for 10 to 15 minutes a day. Kittens are a bit easier with this, tending to initiate play themselves, but your adult furbaby might need a little more coaxing. Below are eight tried-and-true toys, scratchers, and tools cat lovers use to keep their little friends moving so they can live their happiest and healthiest lives.

Morovilla Turbo Interactive Scratcher Cat Toy


This cat-nip infused scratch pad encourages activity while also reducing the amount of furniture scratching your pet will be inclined to do. The interactive toy gets my cat moving before and after meals, her preferred times to claw the thing to shreds. On that note, make sure to stock up on replacement pads, too.

Buy It! Morovilla Turbo Interactive Scratcher Cat Toy, $12.97;

SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toys


Tap into your kitty’s hunting instinct with these mice toys stuffed with catnip. Your cat will swat and chase these enticing little toys around the room. My coworker stands by this recommendation, saying, “My cat was so excited, she pulled it out of the bag herself before we even could.”

Buy It! SmartyKat Skitter Critters Catnip Cat Toys $1.97–$5.76;

SmartyKat Loco Laser Electronic Light Cat Toy


Cats and laser pointers may be a cliché combination, but most clichés are born out of truth, and this interactive toy will have your furry friend running around frantically trying to catch the elusive red dot. This particular laser pointer has the added adorable factor of being shaped like a kitty itself.

Buy It! SmartyKat Loco Laser Electronic Light Cat Toy, $4.33;

SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy


First of all, I love that this toy has “hot pursuit” in its name as if your cat is in an intense Fast and Furious-style car chase (the sequel, Fast and Furrious, obviously). Second, I love that it has nearly 1,000 five-star reviews. Several of the glowing customer testimonials call this the “best cat toy ever” and say it’s great for both baby and senior cats alike.

Buy It! SmartyKat Hot Pursuit Electronic Concealed Motion Cat Toy, $16.14 (orig. $27.99);

Cat Dancer Original Interactive Cat Toy


This affordable cat toy is a classic. My cat loves to chew on the wire for some reason, but that definitely entices her to jump around and chase the bobbing cardboard rolls at the end. Whether your cat is oddly attracted to the wire like mine or enjoys lunging after hard-to-catch prey, this interactive cat toy is a must-have for feline-friendly households.

Buy It! Cat Dancer Original Interactive Cat Toy, $3.42 (orig. $5.95);

Da Bird Feather Teaser


Go Cat’s fishing-rod style toy encourages your cat to jump high and stay alert to catch the dangling feather piece. With a nearly perfect 4.7-star rating at Petco, the interactive toy has tons of fans who say it has helped increase their indoor cat’s stimulation “tremendously” and that their cats love the “noise like a bird flying” it makes.

Buy It! Da Bird Feather Teaser, $8.95 (was $9.99);

Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy


Another toy on the list with a near-perfect 4.7-star rating at Petco, this kitty tower keeps cats of all ages busy, whether in quick spurts multiple times a day or for a chunk of time at once. Some reviewers caution it might take pets a day or two to understand what the tower toy is, but after that, they’ll be hooked.

Buy It! Petstages Tower of Tracks Cat Toy, $19.99 (orig. $29.99);

SmartyKat Certified Organic Catnip

When all else fails, sprinkle catnip on it. My cat wakes up from even the deepest of slumbers after catching a whiff of this stuff. If I sprinkle it on soft toys like these plush balls or crinkle butterflies, she’ll swat and chase to her heart’s content (a.k.a. until she gets a good hold on the catnip-laden toy to chew, lick, and roll madly on top of).

Buy It! SmartyKat Certified Organic Catnip, 2 oz. Canister, $3.71;

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