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Exercise Behavior Glossary Good Medicine

Why is Regular Exercise Important For You And Your Cat?

2 years ago

11628  0
Posted on May 19, 2022, 3 p.m.

As a cat owner struggling to find time to hit the gym several times a week, it’s easy to glance at your feline friend snoozing 23-hours-a-day and think they have the right idea.

Cats and humans share a lot of the same exercise needs, but there are some key differences between us.

Here’s why both you and your cat need plenty of exercise, and how your needs differ.

Why We Need Exercise: You vs Your Cat

Every living thing needs to move to thrive.

Exercise is how we keep our blood pumping, and our bodies healthy. It’s also how we ensure we can break down the food we eat each day.

While there are some slight differences between the benefits of exercise for animals and the benefits for humans, there are some major similarities too, for instance:

  • Avoiding depression: Exercising as a human releases endorphin and reduces stress, as well as helping us to minimize issues of anxiety and depression. Exercise for cats also reduces stress and anxiety. About 40% of cats suffer from depression based entirely on boredom. The main difference is you probably won’t start urinating where you’re not supposed to if you don’t get enough exercise. The same can’t be said of your cat.
  • Healthy body: Exercise is critical for a healthy body. The more you exercise, the more you work your muscles, keep your organs working properly, and protect yourself against various diseases. Just like you, your cat needs regular exercise to support good muscle and bone health, coordination, and heart health.
  • Reduced obesity: Sitting still or not getting enough exercise into your routine is a sure-fire way to increase your risk of obesity. Similarly, a cat without regular exercise in its routine will quickly begin to pack on the pounds. For both us and animals, increased weight gain leads to a host of problems, from diabetes to heart disease.

Exercise can also help to facilitate relationships.

For a cat, chasing a laser pointer is an important bonding session with you. For a human, joining a running group or cycling team is a great opportunity to make some new friends.

Exercise Needs: Your Needs vs Your Cats

Interestingly, the recommended daily amount of exercise required for human beings to stay healthy is about the same as the amount of activity your cat needs.

Humans are advised to aim for at least 30 minutes of “moderate” physical activity each day. Cats, also need around 30 minutes of activity each day to stay happy and healthy.

The main difference is the kind of exercise we get.

Your cat usually spends a lot of time jumping, running, stretching and playing to stay active and burn calories – even if you only see the occasional burst of energy first-hand. This means 30 minutes of playing with a mouse on a string is more than enough for your cat to stay happy.

Alternatively, us human beings are spending a significantly higher amount of time in “sedentary” positions these days. We spend hours sitting in front of a desk or a television, doing virtually nothing. This means our 30 minutes of exercise might need to be a little more intensive.

For both you and your cat, it’s important to spend thirty minutes exercising to the point where your heartbeat is elevated.

If you’re out of breath by the time you’re done working out, you’re probably on the right track. Alternatively, watch out for panting cats, as panting can be a sign of illness.

We All Need Exercise

A quick glance at your cat, with it’s super lean body and graceful muscles is enough to convince anyone that they’re doing exercise all wrong. After all, many cats spend a lot of time snoozing. However, just because a cat has a lot of the same exercise needs as you, and benefits from activity in the same way a human doesn’t mean it’s exactly the same.

Your cat consumes a fraction of the energy you do on a daily basis, and they weigh a lot less too. This means your feline friend will often spend a lot of time napping to conserve energy. Your furry friend wants to be ready at all times for an impending hunt.

Since you’re less likely to need to suddenly wake up and chase a mouse, you need to think a little more carefully about your approach to exercise.

About the Author:

Sam Jones is a feline expert focusing on cat behavior, cat health, and cat care. She has lived with cats her entire life and has been writing about cats for as long as she can remember. She is currently a senior contributing editor at

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine.

Content may be edited for style and length.

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