Most of us are familiar with the stereotypical image of a modern-day house cat: a cute, vaguely mischievous creature that eats and plays in between 10-hour naps. But the more we learn about cat behavior, the more we’re starting to realize that this may not be as natural as we thought. In fact, it could be a sign that your cat is suffering from boredom. This now presents cat owners with a new and somewhat unexpected question: My cat is bored, what can I do?
What Does a Bored Cat Look Like?
Boredom isn’t a trait we often ascribe to our pets, but the truth is that they’re just as susceptible to it as we are. Overlooking this fact can not only cause us to misinterpret undesired behaviors in our cats (more on that in a minute), but can also lead us to miss health problems that might be cropping up as a result.
Bored cats are more prone to developing obesity, for example, which can lead to a laundry list of severe health issues down the line. Boredom can also have a negative impact on your kitty’s mental health. And, just like humans, they can develop harmful coping mechanisms to deal with it.
With that in mind, here are some common signs that your cat might be bored:
- Frequent meowing for no obvious reason
- Urinating outside of their litter box
- Excessive napping (fun fact: while kittens may need the 20-hour nap, adult cats should only be sleeping for 12–16 hours per day)
- Over-eating and/or over-grooming
- Aggression towards other pets
- Destructive behaviors (scratching, breaking things, redecorating your bathroom in the papier toilette style, etc.)
Now that we know boredom may be the source of all these issues, what do we do about it?
My Cat is Bored, What Can I Do: Ideas for Solving the Problem
We’ve established that maybe some of the “normal” cat behaviors we’re all used to dealing with might actually be a result of boredom (hello, mangled couch upholstery). Now the question is, what can you do about it?
Great news! Helping your kitty deal with their boredom isn’t hard. In fact, there are a variety of ways you can enhance your cat’s daily enrichment and provide them with the entertainment they need to be healthy and happy.
Provide interactive toys and games. One thing you can do to address the my cat is bored, what can I do question is to provide your cat with interactive toys and games. The usual crinkle and rattle balls, feather sticks, and catnip infused toys are great options, but if your cat tires of these quickly, you can go a step further.
Puzzle feeders, for example, are not just for dogs! Our cats love to solve problems, too, and puzzle feeders are a great way to keep them entertained while simultaneously managing their caloric intake. You can buy one or you can make your own with muffin tins, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, or even the hallowed cardboard box.
Think upwards. It’s no secret that cats love to climb. That’s why the next item on our list is all about climbing towers, shelves, and posts. Again, you can buy a cat tower or two and place them near windows around your home to give your cat a nice place to lounge and play.
But a more adventurous option is to build your cat a “cat superhighway.” Maybe you’ve seen pictures of these on social media: crazy networks of shelves, suspended bridges, platforms, and ledges affixed to the walls and ceilings. You don’t have to go all out, but a nice construction of ledges and shelves in the corner of a room will give your cat another option for exploration and entertainment when boredom starts to creep in.
Send them on a hunt. Next on our list of boredom-busting hacks involves playing on your cat’s natural hunting instincts. Instead of (or in addition to) using food puzzles, you can hide a portion of your kitty’s daily kibble around the house for them to seek out throughout the day.
Start simple at first until they get the game and then you can find more challenging hiding spots. If your job takes you out of the house during the week, you can even set up a pet “nanny cam” to watch them while they search!
Venture outside. While this may not be the right method for every kitty, but for the more adventurous felines out there, getting them outside is a fantastic way to ensure they’re getting enough stimulation throughout the day.
If you have the time, patience, and inclination, you can try to teach your cat to walk on a leash—check out our article for tips on how to go about this safely and effectively — or you can buy an enclosed pet stroller for kitty to ride in.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to take your cat’s personality into account. While you want to take care of their boredom, you don’t want to replace it with debilitating anxiety.
My Cat is Bored, What Can I Do: The Ultimate Cure
Our final and most important piece of advice for curing your cat’s boredom: spend some time with them! When done correctly, cats enjoy attention from their owners. Not only can it help you build a stronger relationship with your cat, but spending active time with them is one of the best cures for boredom out there.