How Much Exercise Does a Cat Need?

Dr. Joe Alcorn, M.S., D.V.M.

Dr. Joe Alcorn is founder of Care Animal Hospital in Temecula, California. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Colorado State University. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and his advice has been featured in large publications like Bustle and Martha Stewart.

Home » Blog » How Much Exercise Does a Cat Need?

Cats need exercise to keep their body and mental health in tiptop shape. It is not easy to track the amount of cat exercise they get each day, though, because we can’t always take them out for a walk like we do with dogs. So how much exercise does a cat need? 

How Much Exercise Does A Cat Need?

On average, a cat needs 30 minutes of physical activity every day. The amount of cat exercise required might also change depending on the cat’s age and whether our cats prefer to stay indoors or are more outdoorsy.

Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cat Exercise Requirements

Naturally, cats are hunters and respond quickly to stimuli. However, indoor and outdoor cats have some differences when it comes to exercise requirements.

Cat jumping on grass during daytime

Adult Cats vs. Kittens Exercise Requirements

  • Adult cats should exercise daily for half an hour to keep their body fit and healthy. Also, since cats love to hunt, exercising helps keep their hunting skills sharp.
  • On the other hand, young cats can sleep 18-22 hours a day, so they can’t be as active as adult cats. Still, they should do daily exercises using their favorite toys. 

Importance of Exercise in Cats

  • Exercise Helps Avoid Depression: Around 40 percent of cats suffer depression due to boredom. Exercise helps avoid depression because it improves the production of serotonin. It is a natural chemical that helps stabilize the mood and improve sleep, appetite, and digestion.
  • Exercise Keeps Their Body Fit and Healthy: Exercise also helps to keep your cat healthy. It ensures good muscle and bone health and coordination when they stalk, chase, or attack stimuli.
  • Exercise Helps Avoid Obesity: Like humans, cats that engage in daily physical activities are less likely to become obese. If our cats consume many carbohydrates, they’ll gain more weight. Exercise helps burn calories which can develop into fat. Obesity can affect your cat’s health and cause conditions like heart disease. Cats that do not get enough exercise may develop behavioral problems like scratching the floor and furniture or other undesirable behavior.
  • Exercise Improves Owner-Cat Relationship: Exercise is like playtime for cats. So play with your cat as it improves their health and the bond between both of you.

Best Time for Cat Exercises

Unfortunately, we can’t take your cat out for walks or morning jogs especially when it is cold. However; there are several easy ways your cat can get enough exercise.

Easy Exercises for Indoor Cats

Unfortunately, we can’t your cat out for walks or morning jogs in most cases. That being said, there are several, easy ways we can help your cat get enough exercise.

Bathtub and Ball Duo

With the bathtub all dried up, toss a ball inside and allow your feline friend to play freely inside. Cats do not easily get bored with a moving target, so let them bat the ball all they want.

Animal Toys

Cats are very observant and they somehow distinguish the physical appearance of real-life stimuli. Consider toys that resemble real animals like bugs, birds, and mice to entice them. To make it more exciting, use strings to give life to the toys and make the playtime more challenging.

Kittens playing with mouse toy

Catfood Exercise

Mealtimes are very tempting to cats, especially when combined with wet food. Although we may also use dry food or any food preferred by our cats. When our cats realize we’re preparing their food, they’ll follow us everywhere. We can take a few minutes to tease our pet so they could burn calories by running after us.

Chasing Laser Pointer Light

Cats feel very much enticed by fast-moving stimuli. You can use a laser pointer to keep your cat moving. To encourage participation, play the laser light the way a mouse, bug, or real stimulus would move. 

Ribbons and Wands

Tie a ribbon or string to one end of the wand and let your cats chase it around the house. However, store away after playtime to prevent choking. Should accidental swallowing happen, do some first aid techniques or the Heimlich Maneuver when the cat is unconscious. Then, bring it immediately to the vet.

Match Exercise Partners

Unlike a dog, a cat may not respond to your requests. However, you can pair two cats that get along well. Through their own fun games and wrestling, they’ll get enough activity. 

Use cat Towers

Multi-tiered cat towers ensure your pet has numerous areas to climb and places to play for a great workout. To encourage jumping and climbing, put a few treats in different areas of the tower. 

Try Catnip

Catnip toys are useful tools that can get your cat to exercise. However; some cats may not respond to catnip while those that do may become aggressive. We recommend giving catnip toys after stressful events like a visit to the vet.

Introduce Leash-Walking

Similar to dogs, you can entice your pet to walk with a harness and a leash outside. Leash-walking is great if your cat can tolerate the lead and harness. Unlike older cats, training a young kitty is easier. Ensure the leash cannot be wriggled out of and fits properly. 

Get Your Cat Piñatas

Cats love batting items that hang overhead. Putting food inside will provide more motivation. Hang them up with a string where your pet can reach them. If your cat hits them properly, the food will fall out.

Related Questions

Is it OK If My Cat Pants After Playing?

It is OK if your cat pants after playing. Similar to dogs, cats may pant after strenuous exercise or when they’re overheated and anxious. This sort of panting tends to resolve once your pet has calmed down. 

How Will I Know if My Cat Doesn’t Want to Play?

If you want to know if your cat doesn’t want to play, pay attention to its signals. They won’t show any interest in toys or walk away. Any interested pet will want to participate, respond positively to interactions, and bat around cat toys.


Cats need exercise of at least 30 minutes each day. Outdoor cats may need less time to exercise since they have access to natural environment and various stimuli. Indoor cats, though, can still be fit and healthy with 30 minutes of indoor play.