How to Deal with a Bored Cat
Boredom can affect pets, just as much as humans. Except when our normally cute and cuddly pets are bored, it can lead to a variety of behavioural problems. Indoor cats who are left alone during the day are most prone to suffering boredom. Cats have very different temperaments, which means some cats need more stimulation than others. I’ve experienced first-hand how a bored and lonely cat can turn into a destructive cat.
The Typical Signs of a Bored Cat
It’s important to note, while these signs may be symptoms of boredom, they can also indicate an underlying medical issue. Cats with persistent ‘out of the ordinary’ behaviour should visit the vet for a check-up to rule out other possible health issues.
- Destructive stimulation by scratching or destroying furniture and other items
- Aggressive chasing or fighting with other pets
- Over-grooming which can also indicate anxiety
- Inactivity, lethargy or over-sleeping
- Moping or 'crying'
- Overeating or losing their usual appetite
Creating the Perfect Kitty Environment
Cats and kittens need a certain level of activity and engagement to stay healthy and out of trouble. The most important thing to do for your kitty is to create a stimulating environment – with things to do. Keep your cat occupied and prevent boredom with these ideas:
Get a cat tree or scratching post. Cat furniture, such as a cat tree or cat gym, offers your kitty several perches from which to survey their domestic territory. As well as a dedicated area to sharpen their claws (rather than your human furniture!). Cats will use a cat scratching post for many reasons. One is to help shed the outer layers of their nails. Another is to mark their territory. It's an instinctive behaviour that cats never lose and enjoy.
Create a Cat Retreat. Cats like places where they feel safe. Set-up an area that is just for your kitty with a comfortable cat bed and something to hide in (like a box). This can be anywhere in a quiet area, preferably by a window so they can keep an eye on those pesky birds outside. Cats feel especially safe (and superior) on elevated perches as it allows them to survey their surrounding areas.
Entertain with Cat Toys. Toys are especially important for cats because it gives them an outlet to express their wild side and ensures healthy play and exercise, which is essential for a happy cat. Cat toys come in a variety of creatures, colours, fur, bells, feathers and sounds. Different cats will like different cat toys, which is why there is such a wide variety. Buy one of each and do a test. You can make cat toys yourself using things like foil, empty toilet rolls or ping-pong balls. Also, a good tip is to rotate toys. Ironically, cats become bored with the same toys after a while, so hide some of the toys for a while and reintroduce.
A Window with a View. Cats love to watch what is going on outside, and it’s a simple way to create a stimulating environment. Place a cat bed next to the window with a view, or a cat tree if height is an issue. Cat beds can also be purchased that are like hammocks and are suspended on the window.
Excite with Catnip. Catnip is a herb belonging to the mint family and is a natural stimulant, when sniffed by a cat, produces a "high" sensation. It’s perfectly safe for your furry friend. Not all cats are sensitive to catnip, but the ones that are may react by rolling around, flipping over, and being hyperactive. You can buy toys with catnip in them or catnip spray. You can also grow it yourself!
Grow Some Cat Grass. Outdoor cats like to chew on grass to help clear the digestive tract which can sometimes get clogged by fur. Give your indoor cat the same experience. Cat grass is really easy to grow.
Show Love. The most important thing is to give your cat love and attention when you’re home. Cats are quite happy to be alone but not isolated, so play with your cat regularly using feathers, a ball or toy mice. Cats need interaction, which is why plenty of playtime and lots of cuddles are the essential ingredients for a happy cat. Also, encourage your kitty to curl up with you when you're laying down watching tv. Your cat will let you know when it’s had enough love 😉
Those Who Play Together, Stay Together. You can also consider getting a second cat (or a dog) for the company. However, there is no guarantee your cat will accept a new cat in the home. Some cats are naturally social while others aren’t. New cats must be introduced very slowly. I’m extremely lucky that my three cats adore each other, although the first few days introducing each was filled with growls and hisses!