6 Ways Cats Help Me Stick to My Exercise Routine


Do cats make good workout partners? You bet they do. You might not think so, at first. After all, don’t cats spend at least 16 hours of every day sleeping? Perhaps! But read between the lines to see what cats are REALLY trying to tell us about working out.

Yes — we can find motivation in the strangest places, It just takes learning what your cat is really trying to tell you. It just takes a little reading between the lines. Your cat really want to help you stay in shape!

Here’s how my cats help me stick to my workout:

1. They structure my day

I’ve found that I work out best first thing in the morning. Coincidentally, the cats also want to be fed first thing in the morning. (What cat doesn’t?) So, I let their urgency spur me on. I squeeze the workout in first, because feeding my cats is a bit involved (some must be fed in separate rooms, etc.).

I know from experience that if I get caught up in the chores of the day (cat feeding, litter boxes, etc.) that the workout might never get done. Those cats are smart. I let their urgency to be fed spill over into my urgency to work out. Eventually, they settle down. After my workout, they get fed — a win-win for all!

2. They’re masters at games where I do all the exercise and they do none

Cats love a game where you do all the work and they sit around. “Drag the Sheet,” which I described in a blog post about how my cats help me waste time, is one such game. I walk fast around the house, over and over. The cat makes one mad dash, slides on the sheet, and rides while I pull. Not only am I getting a cardio workout, I’m getting weight training! (Try pulling a cat around on a sheet and see for yourself — they feel like a lump of lead.)

Try this game — it’s great exercise. The cat tunnel is another similar fun toy — you do the work, the cat sits and rides!

3. They make me want to stick around so I can care for them throughout my life

In a more serious vein, how sucky would it be if I passed before my cats did? So, I’m going to do the best thing possible to put the odds in my favor — work out. Sure, there are things I can’t control. But again — see how the cats have helped me see the benefit of working out? Not only are they teachers, but they’re subtle and skilled teachers!

4. They inspire me to get outside so I can get back inside and be with the cats

On a really nice day, I will work out outside. I might take a good bike ride, or I might cross-country ski in the wintertime. But I always have the cats in my mind at the end of the workout. Are they okay? Is the house too hot or too cold? You could almost say the cats inspire me to ski or bike faster, just so I can get home faster to make sure they’re okay.

Am I nuts? Maybe. But I’m really feeling this now with a new kitten in the house. He’s tiny, he’s bought out the mothering instinct in me, and I hate to leave him. When I’ve been out of the house, I run back in first thing and check on him. Think about it — you can use this to your advantage and ramp up your outside workout. Again, the cats have helped facilitate a win-win!

5. They make me realize what’s at the end of the workout

The graceful profile of a cat lounging on a futon reminds me that yes, I can relax after my workout. It’s something to look forward to. Generally, I don’t — I’m off and running to the next thing. But the cats would sure love it if I did lounge — and when I do, they’re on me like a cat pile.

6. They inspire me by showing me the obvious!

Ever watch a cat sit on a treadmill and glare at you? I have. It’s funny at first, and then I feel guilty. Where’s the workout I didn’t do?

Strangely, again my wise cat is the teacher. He’s really telling me, “Get on this treadmill and don’t get off for at least 20 (more like 30 minutes)!” Of course, I’d never catch my cat walking or running on a treadmill, though I understand that there are treadmills for dogs. (Figures …)

Do your cats help you get inspired to work out? How or how not? Share your stories in the comments!

Read more about cats and play or exercise:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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