If you had to sit around your house all day with nothing to do but eat and sleep, you might jump for joy! However, you can probably imagine that after a while, it would get pretty old without some type of entertainment or engagement.
Your furry feline’s life is just this when they are alone during the day – eat, sleep, maybe some window watching, sleep, and eat some more. If your cat becomes bored, they may seek to engage their attention in other areas, and those areas may not be the best for your cat or your household.
Signs Your Cat is Bored
Cats have the reputation for being pets that can take care of themselves. Many cats may not be overt in their emotions for you; some may not even greet you right when you come home for the day (so much for a welcoming committee!). But we still love their sweet meows and purring when you scratch that sweet spot on their back.
However, our cats can get lonely and bored when left alone during the day. Your cat may try to find ways of solving their boredom, and they may find themselves getting into trouble.
Here are some signs that you may see from your cat if they are bored.
If your cat has taken an interest in the sides of your furniture, and by that, we mean scratching it to shreds, your cat may be trying to signal to you that they need something to focus their attention on. It is definitely cheaper to invest in some interactive cat toys rather than a new sofa.
If your cat is looking a little fluffier than usual, they may be eating to keep from getting bored. Sound familiar? When we are bored, a bag of chips sounds like the perfect engaging opportunity. Your cat may also feel the same way about their food bowl, taking a few bites here and there to help pass the time.
If you notice you are going through a lot more cat food, and your cat is looking more round, it is likely that they are bored and are choosing snacking as their activity. If your cat has gained weight, you can reach out to your veterinarian for any tips they may have with feline weight loss.
When you were younger, if you had siblings, one of your boredom-busters may have been to annoy your brother or sister. This same mischievousness may lie within our pets, and annoying their animal “siblings” may be their form of entertaining themselves.
As our pets are still animals, they will have other tactics of dealing with this terrorizing. We always want to avoid fighting, as we don’t want our pets to hurt each other or induce injuries. At this point, it is important to redirect this energy into a more productive and positive way, like using cat toys to keep our cat engaged.
How To Alleviate Boredom
Providing your cat opportunities for mental and physical engagement helps alleviate boredom and those not-so-positive signs they may have been exhibiting. We definitely want to help our cats refocus their energies away from any destructive behaviors by providing a positive outlet designed specifically for cats.
Let’s look at the different types of toys that our cats can alleviate their boredom with.
1. Catnip Toys
Catnip toys are a perfect way to give your cat a little zing in their day. Catnip is a type of plant that contains an oil that cats just go crazy for. When exposed to this plant, cats will roll around the container containing the catnip. They may also drool, meow, become hyperactive, or some may just zone out.
Your cat’s response to catnip is determined by their genes. Just like the gene that determines if cilantro tastes like soap in humans, cats’ genes also determine if they will respond to catnip. This gene is hereditary, and around 70% to 80% of cats will have it.
Catnip toys contain the catnip plant, fresh or dried (the dried variety is more potent). The catnip in the toy will need to be refreshed a few times a month, as the active ingredient will become stale. Also, your cat may become desensitized to the toy if it is left out all the time. So giving this toy to your cat a few days a week with breaks in between allows them to have the best reaction.
If you are unable to find loose catnip to refresh the toys with, you can find catnip spray to spritz over their toys or areas your cat is encouraged to use, like their bed or cat perch.
2. Cat Scratchers
Cat scratchers provide your cat a place for them to satisfy their need to scratch. There are countless types of cat scratchers on the market, with different materials, shapes, and sizes. Some scratchers are built horizontally and some vertically; it really just depends on your cat’s preference on which they will like best. If you are unsure, you can always buy a few varieties of cat scratchers and set them around the house to see which one is used the most.
3. Perches, Cat Trees, and Tunnels
Cat perches, trees, and tunnels are all great apparatuses for helping your cat to be more physical.
Perches can be attached to windows. They make for a great viewing point for your cat to keep watch of the yard or neighborhood. They will love watching all the birds and squirrels that pass by.
Cat trees are great if you have multiple cats, as they can hang out together in the tree. There are various sizes of cat trees made up of different materials and combinations that allow your cat ways to climb, scratch, and snooze.
Cat tunnels are perfect for your cat if they like places like under the bed or couch. It provides a closed-off space that helps your cat feel snug and secure. Many tunnels are made of fun, crinkly materials that your cat may like to walk on. You can also hang toys within the tunnel to liven up the space and give your cat an object to play with.
4. Puzzle Toys
You can also mentally engage your cat with puzzle toys that have treats hidden inside of them. Some puzzle toys have sliding bits or different hidden spaces. There are electronic puzzle toys that have parts that jump out for your cat to swipe at. This may be just the thing to keep your kitty on their toes.
5. Interactive Teasers and Ball Toys
Interactive teasers have feathers and other dangly parts that are fun to wave in front of your cat. You can drag the toy across the floor so your cat can follow and stalk it. It also gives you a chance to witness the moment when they shake their tail before pouncing — the cutest.
Ball toys usually have some type of ball that is able to be batted around plastic tubing. This is fun for your cat as they move the ball around.
Both interactive teasers and ball toys also have electronic versions that your cats can play with while you are not at home. Many have auto-shut-off features so that the power won’t be depleted in one day. Especially useful if your cat is just snoozing away while the toy is running.
Are you really a cat owner if you haven’t watched videos of other cats chasing lasers? We love watching cats get excited and chase a light dog on a wall. The running and jumping sequences they act out trying to catch the dot look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Using a laser pointer is a great way to engage your cat and get them moving and out of their bed.
7. Exercise Wheels
Just like a large hamster wheel, exercise wheels provide a space for your cat to run and get any pent-up energy out. You can lure your cat into using the wheel by placing treats on the wheel. Using a spray paste in your cat’s favorite flavor, like chicken or fish, around the wheel can help encourage them to walk on the wheel to lick up the paste.
Using an exercise wheel is fantastic for those cats who may have hit the food bowl hard when they were bored. If you are utilizing an exercise wheel to help your cat shed some extra pounds, you can always reach out to your veterinarian for any additional exercise or nutrition tips.
As cat owners, we need to be able to manage our cat’s feline natural behaviors. If your cat is still trying to scratch on your furniture, you may need to invest in some pet repellent sprays that may smell or taste bad to your cat. This will hopefully keep your cat away from the areas you want to protect. Providing toys to alleviate your cat’s boredom should be a big help in refocusing their attention to more appropriate objects.
If you find that managing your cat’s behaviors has caused many of your belongings to be destroyed and no improvement has been seen, it’s time to ask for a little help.
With KONG Club, you get a box every month especially curated for cats to help have fun and practice their natural instincts!
Signs of Boredom in Your Cat | Danbury Animal Welfare Society
Feline Behavior Problems: Destructive Behavior | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine
How Does Catnip Work Its Magic on Cats? | Scientific American