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Why Does My Cat Do That? Exercise Buddy


Does your cat love it when you exercise? There's just something about that yoga mat rolled out on the floor that they can't resist. Isn't it funny how out of all the times in the day they could approach you for a snuggle, they choose the one time when your hands are full with exercise equipment? Why does your cat do that?


As usual, there are a few different factors contributing to this situation. First is the fact that your workout gear reeks of you (in a nice way, I'm sure!). When cats consider themselves family, they share their scents on various items such as bedding. When you get out your workout clothes, mat, gloves, etc. this is the perfect opportunity for your cat to blend their scent with yours. The best way to accomplish this, without scratching or peeing on it, is to plop down on it.


I've said it before and I'll say it again, cats love routine. If you aspire to a regular exercise routine, your cat is going to notice. Since they love routine, why not join in and make this their routine as well? It's a win-win!


Forgive me for getting all science-y on you, but the final reason cats love to exercise with you is because you are giving off "discriminative stimuli." According to Wiktionary, a discriminative stimulus is:


A stimulus, associated with reinforcement or punishment, that exerts control over a particular form of behavior; the subject discriminates between closely related stimuli and elicits a specific behavior more frequently or less frequently only in the presence of that stimulus.


Discriminative stimuli are everywhere whether you know it or not. The cat who only sits on your lap if a blanket is present. The foster cat who "knows it is Saturday" and hides to avoid the adoption event. The dog who gives his very best sit stay while wiggling all over because you bumped the leash. The companion animal who greets you at the door because they heard your keys jingling in the lock. These are all animals responding to discriminative stimuli.


So when you roll out the yoga mat, put your hair in a pony tail, and pop in a familiar dvd, your cat knows you're going to be on the floor for a minute. Perfect, let's cuddle! Or perhaps your cat is as keen of an observer as mine, who sees me take off my shoes for the cool down stretch i.e. the perfect time to join me.


On the other side of the coin, when the discriminative stimulus is not present, your cat isn't cued to cuddle. So if you randomly have an afternoon to finally catch up on reading, your cat has no idea what you're doing or how long you will be there. Treating yourself to a cup of tea? If you don't do that very often, your cat doesn't know this is a better time for affection than exercise.


If it's annoying that your cat crashes your exercise sessions, may I humbly recommend that you create more self care routines? Setting aside quiet time for yourself every day will also be an invitation for your cat to join you. Now that's a win-win.

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