Solving Boredom in Cats: A Guide to a Happier Feline Friend
Do you have a feline friend but feel like something's off? Is your cat being a bit more sluggish or meowing a lot more than usual? Chances are, your cat is bored! Believe it or not, cats can get bored just like us; however, 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?”, boredom can seriously affect your cat's overall health and well-being. Read on to learn about the signs of boredom in cats, the problems it can cause, and the solutions you can try for a happier and healthier cat.
Is my cat bored? 6 signs of boredom in cats
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.
1. Excessive Meowing
Cats meow to communicate with humans, so if you find that your cat is meowing more often than usual, it could be because they're bored and trying to get your attention.
2. Excessive Grooming
When cats are not mentally stimulated enough, they may become bored, and excessive grooming is their way of dealing with it. 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. Grooming serves many purposes for cats, such as removing dirt and parasites but also relieves stress and boredom. Unfortunately, some cats may groom themselves to the point of hair loss and skin lesions.
3. Lack of Appetite
When cats are bored, they will often stop eating, as they don’t have the same motivation to eat that they would if they were active and engaged. Cats may also become anxious when they’re bored, which can lead to a decrease in appetite.
4. Destructive Behavior
Cats are natural hunters; however, when deprived of prey or toys to focus on, they may become frustrated and take out their aggression on other objects. This type of behavior, known as redirected aggression, often occurs due to a cat's inability to express their natural hunting instincts. Examples of destructive behavior caused by redirected aggression include scratching furniture and clawing curtains.
Cats can become listless and lack motivation when bored, resulting in behaviors such as extended periods of lying down, increased sleep, and lack of interest in playing. They may also move slowly or be inactive when they should be active and show less interest in their environment and people.
Have you ever witnessed your cat running around your house in a frenzy and thought they were going mad? Actually, this behavior likely indicates they're feeling bored. Tail-chasing is a sign of boredom, and can sometimes happen if you stop playing with your feline friend too soon. Cats have short attention spans, so if they don't get enough playtime, they may resort to attacking their own tails in order to redirect their energy.
What problems will boredom in cats lead to?
If your cat is not kept mentally stimulated, boredom can lead to a host of problems, from destructive behavior to health issues. Below is an overview of the potential problems associated with feline boredom.
Boredom can cause cats to become inactive and sleep more often, which can lead to obesity. Obesity puts cats at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and even joint pain. It can also be harmful to their digestive system, potentially leading to pancreatitis.
Cats that become bored may start to engage in destructive activities, such as scratching furniture, climbing curtains, chewing on cords, or even trying to escape the house. They may also become more vocal than usual, which can be disruptive. Additionally, they may become more aggressive towards other cats or people in the house and may display anxious behaviors such as hiding, trembling, and panting.
Cats need environmental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. With nothing to occupy their time, they can become frustrated, anxious, and even afraid. This can lead to stress, which in turn can cause digestive issues and weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to illnesses. Over the long term, boredom can lead to depression and reduce the quality of life for cats.
What to do if my cat is bored?
If your cat is showing signs of boredom, you may be wondering what to do to help. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your kitty entertained and stimulated. Here are some tips on what to do if your cat is bored.
Provide plenty of toys
Cats are natural hunters and enjoy stalking and pouncing on prey-like toys. Providing your cat with toys such as a catnip-filled mouse, a feather wand, or a laser pointer can help keep them entertained and occupied. You can also rotate the toys every few weeks or so to keep things interesting for your cat.
Create an enrichment environment
Take a look around your home and see what items you can repurpose as toys for your cat. Cardboard boxes, old socks, and paper bags can all be great fun. If you're feeling creative, you can even make some toys out of simple materials like string, feathers, and paper. An enrichment environment with stimulating sights, sounds, and activities can help your cat stay active and engaged. Your cat will love the stimulating activities these toys provide!
Set aside sometime each day for playtime with your cat to help them release pent-up energy, stay physically active, and feel mentally stimulated. Choose interactive toys such as a fishing pole toy or a treat-dispensing toy to encourage natural hunting behaviors. When you’re ready to start playing, bring out the toys and make sure your cat has plenty of space to explore. Move the toys around to keep your cat engaged and enticed. You can also use treats as rewards after your cat successfully catches the toy.
Provide stimulating activities
Cats are naturally curious and love to explore, so to keep them engaged and entertained, there are many activities you can do to provide stimulation. Investing in a cat tree can give your cat a safe place to play, exercise, and explore, as cats love to climb and explore. A puzzle feeder can help keep your cat's brain active while they're eating, as you can fill it with cat food and let your cat work to get the food out. You can also play hide and seek with your cat by hiding treats or toys in different places around your home, which is a great way to keep their natural hunting instinct sharp.
Give your cat something to scratch
Scratching is a natural behavior for cats, and providing them with something to scratch helps them express their natural urges while keeping their claws healthy and in good condition. Get a scratching post or cardboard scratcher that is tall enough for your cat to stretch out and scratch, made from a material they like to scratch such as sisal, carpet, or wood. To further encourage your cat to use the post, spruce it up with catnip or other toys. Place the scratching post in an area your cat likes to hang out to make it more inviting.
Set up a window perch
Window perches give cats a great place to watch the world outside and provide an extra layer of stimulation. If you have a window in your home, provide your cat with a comfortable spot that they can use to watch the birds, the squirrels, and the other critters outdoors.
If your cat loves to watch the world outside, you can take it a step further with cat TV. Cat TV is a type of video that is designed to entertain cats. Look for videos that feature birds, animals, and other interesting things for your cat to watch.
Yes, you can actually take your cat for a walk! Invest in a special cat leash and harness to keep your cat safe and secure while exploring the outdoors. Walking your cat can be a great way to provide them with a change of scenery, while also getting your cat some exercise. Start with short walks and gradually increase the duration as they become more comfortable.
You now know everything about boredom in cats. You understand the signs and the problems associated with it, and you also have a few solutions to help your furry friend stay entertained and happy. So, the next time you see your cat displaying signs of boredom, don’t hesitate to give them something new to explore or play with. After all, your cat will thank you for it with lots of cuddles and purrs!