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Physical activity is as essential for our pet cats as it is for us. In addition to numerous other health benefits, regular physical activity can reduce cancer risk. This article describes the cancer risk associated with a sedentary lifestyle and ways you can ensure an active lifestyle for cats.

Importance of physical activity 

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, and cancer in humans. Additionally, it increases the quality of life and longevity. Cats may avoid similar health problems if they lead a healthy lifestyle.

Obesity and cancer risk

Cats in the wild roam free as active carnivores, always searching for food and seeking safety from predators. In contrast, we give domesticated cats an abundance of food and protect them from predators, which can lead to a sedentary life. The most common outcome of an inactive lifestyle is obesity due to excessive fat accumulation.

Excessive fat tissue releases hormones into the blood that cause chronic inflammation. This constant, low-grade inflammation plays a pivotal role in tumor formation, progression, and migration, increasing the risk of cancer in cats, such as breast and urinary tract cancer.

How to keep your cat active and healthy

Indoor cats need adequate playtime and appropriate types of play for a healthy lifestyle. These play activities should be closely related to their natural predatory behaviors, including stalking, chasing, pouncing, and biting. Play items that cats can pick up, toss in the air, and pounce on give them a fun physical activity close to their natural behavior. A few examples of safe, fun toys include:

    • Wand toys (battery-operated, self-propelling toys that mimic prey)
    • Ping pong balls inside a box or a bathtub
    • Toys filled with catnip
    • Light beam pointers

Avoid prolonged light beam pointer games to prevent your cat from getting frustrated. Changing toys every few days will maintain novelty and interest.

An active cat is a happy cat

Like us, our pets need an active lifestyle to prevent chronic health complications. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of various health problems, including cancer. It is easier than we think to keep our cats physically active, and by mimicking their natural behaviors, we can generate several play ideas. In addition to an active lifestyle, a healthy diet and a few treats will keep our pets healthy.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Website Editorial team is comprised of veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary technicians, as well as scientific writers and editors who have attained their PhD’s in the life sciences, along with general editors and research assistants. All content found in this section goes through an extensive process with multiple review stages, to ensure this extended resource provides pet families with the most up-to-date information publicly available.

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Last Updated: June 23, 2022

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The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page:

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The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.