Getting your cat off your lap is easier said than done. The good news is they never lose their instinct to chase, pounce and catch prey, so it’s easy to encourage them to be more active.

The best time to play with your cat is in the morning and evening. To keep them interested, play for short 10- to 15- minute sessions, and rotate their toys regularly. Here are a few fun ideas to burn those kitty calories.

Good old ball on a string

Cats love the unpredictable movement of a ball on a string – or any small, preferably hairy or feathery, object that bounces around for them to stalk and pounce on. Mixing up what’s dangling on the end helps them stay engaged ­– try toys that squeak too.

In fact, any sort of ball!

Crumple up a piece of paper, make an odd sock into a ball or use an old ping pong ball ­– variety is the key to success to keep your cat fired up to catch their prey.

Cardboard boxes

Your cat won’t be able to help itself if you set up an obstacle course of cardboard boxes for them to jump into. Turn some upside down and cut holes in the side for them to squeeze through, too. Your cat might just curl up and sleep in one, but it’s worth a try!

Laser pointers

Cats love to chase the small, red dot and you can do it from the comfort of your sofa. Make sure you’re careful and keep the laser dot on the wall or on the floor, and away from their eyes.

Treat and puzzle toys

Make your cat work for their food by stuffing a dispensing toy full of their favourite treats. It’ll also be a workout for you choosing between the wobblers, cones, balls and activity boards that are on offer from companies like Kong – or you could make your own out of a plastic bottle with holes in it.

Scratching posts and tree houses

Tree houses allow your cat to climb, jump and balance ­– all great ways to expend energy. Even stretching out on a scratch post counts as exercise. Make sure the material doesn’t resemble the carpet, though!

Slow-feeding stations

Slow-feeding stations not only slow down eating, they give your cat a work out trying to ‘catch’ their food. As your cat flicks the prongs of the feeder, biscuits fly out and your cat instinctively catches them with their paws.

Fat-cat problems?

If your cat turns its nose up to any form of exercise and lolls around all day, it’s probably time to visit the vet and get them weighed. A change in their diet might be the way to go instead.

Some cats may need training to use the games or toys that you have provided. Don’t give up – show them how to use the toys, cat scratching poles etc.