How Much Exercise Do Cats Need?

LAST UPDATED 25 February 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Michelle Wong, BVSc

Have you ever wondered if your cat needs exercise? Or thought to yourself that they've been looking a bit fat recently? And how do you make an indoor cat exercise?

Well, just like humans, cats do need regular physical activity to stay healthy and happy. You may have even noticed your cat exercising themselves by doing zoomies. They can expend their pent up energy by sprinting through the house.

Exercise is important particularly for cats living indoors. We can encourage cats to exercise through play. There are plenty of toys designed to spark your cat's interest from wand teasers to food dispenser toys for those food motivated cats. Whatever their personality, there are ways to get them up and active! Regular physical and mental stimulation not only helps them maintain a healthy body condition, but also help to avoid feelings of boredom which could lead to frustration and stress. Take a look at our vet guide for tips on how to keep your indoor cat happy.


How much exercise do cats need each day?

How to exercise your indoor cat

Top rated cat toys

Benefits of Exercise

Further Reading

How much exercise do cats need each day?

Cats who go outside to roam around may chase and play throughout the day, keeping themselves fit and active by doing so. These pets spend an average of 3 hours hunting outside. Extra encouragement to exercise may not be needed for these cats though playing games is still a great way to bond with your cat.

Hunting is a cat's natural form of exercise

The best way to exercise your cat is to recreate this hunting behaviour through play. Indoor cats can have at least two short play sessions per day, starting from 10-15 minutes for each session. Give them plenty of rest time in between and stop when they lose interest.

If your cat is allowed outdoors or you are considering this, it is important to be aware that outdoor cats can be vulnerable to dangers like motor vehicles if they venture out onto the road, infectious diseases, parasites, cat fights, and other hazards. You may wish to provide a safe environment for your cat to explore with the use of an outdoor enclosure or catio. If you have a balcony, you could transform that into an area your cat can enjoy with the help of this Catnets DIY Balcony Safe Cat Net Kit.

Cats may be taught to walk outside with a cat harness and leash, allowing them the freedom to explore the outdoors but safely. However, not all cats are suitable for walking in a harness. Some cats may find this extremely stressful. It is important to understand your cat and provide the right kind of exercise best suited to them.

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Best Cat Harnesses

anipal gigi the gouldian finch cat harness and lead


Anipal creates pet products with a difference. This cat harness is sustainable and eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and brass hardware.

havapet cat harness and leash


This harness is made from breathable and lightweight fabric, designed to be comfortable and non-restricting for your pet. Comes with a long leash.

rogz kiddycat harness lead royal birds


Rogz harnesses are designed to be comfortable yet secure, particularly for cats who may try to wriggle their way out of their first harness. Featuring a break-away safety buckle which will snap open if your cat's collar is caught or put under a dangerous amount of strain.

Keep your outdoor cat protected from parasites

Cats who go outdoors should have regular parasite prevention to protect them from ticks, fleas, heartworm and intestinal worms. Keep in mind many preventative products do not also cover for tapeworm. Outdoor cats who hunt have a higher risk of tapeworm and monthly worming is recommended.

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Best parasite prevention for outdoor cats

bravecto plus for medium cats

Bravecto Plus

Bravecto Plus is a topical treatment that when given every 2 months protects your cat from fleas, deadly paralysis ticks, heartworm, intestinal worms and ear mites.

revolution plus orange medium cat

Revolution Orange Plus

7-in-1 monthly parasite prevention treatment for cats. Give monthly to protect against paralysis ticks, fleas, hookworm, heartworm, roundworm, mites and lice.


Drontal treats and controls all major intestinal worms, including roundworm and hookworm, and also protects your cat from tapeworm.


Milbemax protects against all major intestinal worms of cats, including roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. When given monthly, Milbemax also protects your cat from heartworm.

If you would like to learn more about the parasites of concern and the products which can protect your cat from them, check out our flea, tick and worming guide for cats.

How to exercise your indoor cat

There are plenty of toys to help you introduce physical activity and keep your cat stimulated indoors. It helps to rotate your cat toys to keep things interesting and varied. A basket full of toys just sitting there can look like dead prey to a cat. Hide the cat toys until it is time for play so that it is fresh and exciting.

Playing is the best way to exercise your cat

Encourage their instincts of hunting, chasing and pouncing as this is their most natural form of exercise. Laser pointers, feather wands, cat nip toys, and interactive toys are all great ways to get your cat up and moving. There are many games you can play with your cat. You could throw a cat ball toy across the room for them to chase (some might even carry it back for you!), or whip out a feathery teaser toy and watch them switch into play mode, or use a catnip toy to motivate them to exercise. Cat scratching and climbing towers are also a great idea to give your cat a place to stretch and climb.

Top Rated Cat Toys

go cat da bird cat toy pull apart rod feather cat teaser

Go Cat Feather Teaser

This fun, pull-apart cat teaser will keep your kitty pouncing and jumping for hours on end! Cats love the way it flies and skitters around like a realistic prey bird.

gigwi melody chaser parrot motion active

Gigwi Parrot

Plush parrot toy with a motion-activated sound sensor. It will emit realistic Parrot-like sounds when touched, stimulating your cat's natural hunting instincts and encouraging healthy exercise

MPet Sirius

Keep your cat entertained with this battery powered interactive teaser toy. Also comes with a cover to hide the toy for increased fun!

Fat Cat Teaser

Perfect for interactive play, simply grab and start twirling the wand to watch your cat unleash their hunting skills.

Interactive feeders

Puzzle feeders, and interactive food dispensing toys like the Kong cat wobbler, are a great way to encourage your cat’s natural foraging behaviour. It helps to provide mental stimulation as they problem solve how to get their food.

Nina Ottosson

Nina Ottosson has produced a range of interactive and durable puzzle toys since 1990 to help encourage mental and physical dexterity in pets. The pegs and leaves reveal shallow treat cups as reward while they play. This puzzle toy will keep your cat occupied as they work out how to get their food

Catit Food Digger

This clever toy is designed to make your cat work for their food. Watch as they problem solve and use their own paws to pick out pieces of kibble or treats.

KONG Puzzlements Pockets

Hide toys and treats inside any of the 9 pockets to create a fun playground for curious cats to explore! Includes crinkle material, attached rattle yarn ball and catnip mouse spark hunting instincts. Also comes with a bag of KONG North American Premium Catnip.

Catit Puzzle

6-in-1 puzzle feeder to keep your cat occupied for hours! Watch as they fish out their kibble from the treat tubs, pyramid forest, slow feeder bubbles and other obstacles.

Benefits of exercise

There are plenty of health benefits to keeping your cat active! Not only does exercise keep them in good shape and happy, but can help prevent medical conditions like diabetes.

  • Maintain healthy body condition
  • Reduces risk of health issues, e.g. obesity, diabetes
  • Keep their minds active
  • Minimise boredom and behavioural issues
  • Keeps your cat happy!

Further Reading

Games You Can Play With Your Cat

Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Lead

Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Tips to Help Your Cat Lose Weight

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