6 Signs Your Cat Is Bored And How To Keep The Boredom Away
Cats are a lot like us. They can get bored and need something to entertain them, but unlike us, instead of turning to movies or sports, they're more likely to roll around in a box or a cardboard tube. While we may look at that and think, “What’s the big deal?”, however, boredom can seriously affect your cat’s overall health and wellbeing.
What are the signs of boredom in my cat?
Sometimes you may see your kitty "zoning out" and staring into space. We call it the zen cat, or sometimes the sleepy cat. But was this always a thing? Do cats really get bored like us humans? And what are the signs that your cat is bored? Let’s find out.
Meowing more than usual
It's normal for cats to meow to communicate with humans and other cats, but if your cat is meowing excessively at night when you're trying to sleep, it might mean they're bored or have separation anxiety and need attention while you're away from home.
Cats are very clean animals who are always cleaning themselves by licking their fur. When your cat is bored, they can start licking unusual places like furniture or walls – this is a big sign that something needs to be changed in their life.
A bored cat may get your attention from undesirable behaviors like biting you when you approach them. They may also attempt to relieve their boredom by scratching things, usually items you don't want to be damaged. Scratching is a natural behavior that helps cats mark their territory and remove the dead outer layer of their claws, so it's a good thing when your cat finds something appropriate to scratch. But if they're scratching things they shouldn't (like your furniture), it's time to get creative and find some ways to redirect their attention.
Cats typically spend between 10 percent and 20 percent of their waking hours grooming themselves. But with a bored cat, grooming behavior can increase dramatically. Some cats may even groom themselves to the point of hair loss and skin lesions.
Urinates outside the litter box
Cats are clean animals, and they're not going to urinate in a location where they eat and drink, so if your cat begins urinating outside of their litter box, it's a sure sign of boredom. This can lead to house training issues in addition to an unpleasant smell throughout the house, so it's important to nip this problem in the bud as soon as you notice it!
If you've ever watched your cat run in frantic circles around your home, you might have assumed they were in the throes of a psychotic breakdown. Actually, they're probably bored. Tail chasing is a sign of boredom and can sometimes occur when you try to quit playtime with your kitty too soon. Cats have very short attention spans, so if they don't feel like they're getting their proper pounce on, they might resort to chomping on their own tails as an outlet.
Why can boredom in cats be dangerous?
For any cat parent, your kitty is your family, and you’d do anything to keep them safe and happy. But if your cat is bored, this can be harmful to their wellbeing as boredom can lead to anxiety and even contribute to weight gain in cats. Here are some of the reasons why boredom can be dangerous to your cat:
Causes stress: When your cat isn't used to being alone for long periods of time or doesn't have enough things to keep them entertained, they may start feeling anxious and stressed out. If a stressed cat doesn't find ways to relieve this anxiety, they may develop behavioral problems like biting or urinating outside the litter box.
Causes depression: Boredom is a leading cause of depression in cats. If your kitty doesn't have enough things to do during the day, they will develop an unhappy demeanor that can even lead to physical ailments like hair loss and cystitis.
Causes fatness: Boredom is a major cause of obesity in cats, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. "Cats are hunters. They can get bored easily and may overeat in an attempt to entertain themselves," the association says. Obesity can lead to serious health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease. Fortunately, there are strategies to help regain your cat’s ideal body weight.
Causes aggression: A study published by the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery examined the behavioral characteristics and possible causes of intersession aggression in cats, which occurs when cats become aggressive during a period of rest or sleep. The study found that boredom was the most common reason among cases of intersession aggression in cats. Bored cats are known to become more aggressive in their search for entertainment. When you add another animal or person into the mix, you run the risk of injury. This can also translate into other forms of dangerous behavior such as excessive scratching and biting.
How to prevent my cat from getting bored?
If you find that your kitty is on the boring side and needs a more stimulating environment to keep them occupied, there are a few things you can do:
Enrich your cat's environment: Enriching your cat's environment increases activity levels, self-esteem and helps with boredom. The goal is to provide an outlet for their energy and a place for their curiosity. The most common enrichment tools are scratch posts, cat trees, perches, window perches, or anything that might lure your cat into using it. Enrichment is a great way to help keep your cat in shape by encouraging them to jump, climb and exercise more than if they were just laying around the house all day.
End boredom with toys: Toys can help your cat stretch and strengthen muscles, which helps prevent ailments such as arthritis and joint pain as they age. They can also help your cat learn how to stalk, pounce, and positively use their claws — not on your furniture! The type of toy you choose depends on your cat's personality, but a good rule is to select toys that appeal to your kitty's natural instincts. Most cats like to chase moving objects. You can buy toys that make your cat run after it, such as laser pointer toys or a wand toy that has a feather attached to it.
Consider an automatic feeder: Cats are creatures of habit, and if they know the food will appear at the same time each day, they will be less likely to get bored waiting for it or looking for it. Just make sure you get the right one — some automatic feeders require food that comes in special containers, which cats who prefer wet food may not like as much as their usual fare.
Give your cat some safe time outdoors: Introducing your indoor cat to the outside, and taking them for walks can be great fun and a healthy exercise for both of you. You may want to consider using a harness so your cat has greater freedom of movement and can go at their own pace without feeling trapped by the lead. Leash training your cat might be challenging at first, but it's definitely worth it if your kitty enjoys exploring new places and seeing different sights.
All in all, cats need stimulation and love. Remember that they don't play video games or watch TV, so it's up to you to play with them and give them the human interaction they need. A few hours of your time every week can make a big difference in your fur baby's life. They need attention and affection, just like you do.