An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed.
An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed. Photography ©Aksenovko | Thinkstock.

Is Your Cat Bored?

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We often think of cats as aloof, standoffish and less social than their canine counterparts. But the truth is that cats have needs, and they want to feel fulfilled and entertained.

“Boredom and lack of mental stimulation are really important because [to recognize] it really affects a cat’s psyche,” says Dr. Jamie Richardson, the medical Chief of Staff at Small Door Veterinary. “When a cat is bored, it can lead to detrimental behavior because they will try to find a way to entertain themselves.”

This is particularly problematic for indoor cat parents, as Kitty may entertain herself by peeing outside the litter box or swinging from curtain rods. Though this may be frustrating for humans, it’s important to think about why the cat is doing it.

“When cats are outdoors, they are able to have a lot of stimulation and tap into their predatory drive,” Dr. Richardson says. “We’re domesticating and making them be inside. What we need to do is tap into that and replicate it as much as we can to try to give them that mental stimulation they really need.”

Dr. Richardson shares signs your cat may be bored and solutions for making life more fun and fulfilling.

A cat yowling or making another sound.
Photography ©White_bcgrd | Thinkstock.

Incessant meowing

If Kitty is extra vocal, she may be telling you she’s bored.

Related: Why Does My Cat Yowl After Eating?

“Sometimes, it’s pain or a medical issue like dementia,” Dr. Richardson says. “Other times, it’s attention-seeking behavior. They want someone to entertain them and interact with them.”

Self-harm

If your cat isn’t mentally enriched, she can not only become bored but anxious and obsessive-compulsive. This can lead to over-grooming.

“They’ll excessively lick the fur, especially on their inner thigh or belly,” Dr. Richardson says. “Sometimes, cats do it so excessively it will irritate the skin.”

Destructive to the house

If you have a new baby, moved in with a partner or are leaving the house more and your cat starts peeing on your pillow, it’s not out of spite.

“When they’re bored, that can lead to anxiety, and they can urinate elsewhere,” Dr. Richardson says. “A common place is on the owner’s bed.”

Other destructive behaviors include climbing and swinging from the curtains.

A lazy fat cat on the couch.
Photography ©Lulamej | Thinkstock.

Overeating and sedentary behavior

Younger cats often try to find ways to entertain themselves that involve being active, but older cats are more likely to withdraw and overeat, Dr. Richardson says. This becomes a vicious cycle with poor health outcomes.

“As soon as a cat becomes more sedentary, they want to move less, become bumps on a log, and it’s harder to get them going,” Dr. Richardson says. “An overweight cat is not going to want to play and do some of the things they can do to enjoy life.”

Like in humans, obesity in cats puts pressure on joints, and can cause heart disease and diabetes.

Photo: Getty Images

How to keep your cat engaged?

Boredom is reversible, even in stubborn kitties. Dr. Richardson says the key is to find ways to stimulate them. Provide Kitty with appropriate places to climb and see the world.

“There are cat trees for every living space,” she says. “Windows can be great for cats to be able to observe the world and birds.”

Cat perches and hammocks make for cozy spots for a cat to sit and window shop.

Toys can also provide enrichment, but cats can be pickier than dogs.

“Each cat has different preferences,” Dr. Richardson says.

Experiment with a variety of options, like feathers, motorized toys, wands and catnip. Puzzle toys, Doc and Phoebe feeders and laser pointers play on Kitty’s hunting instincts.

“Make sure the laser pointer has an endpoint,” Dr. Richardson says.

Lead the cat to food or a toy. That way she thinks she hunted something.

Finally, Dr. Richardson advises pet parents to consult the vet if they notice a change in their cats’ behavior. Sometimes, these are signs of other health issues.

Featured Image: An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed. Photography ©Aksenovko | Thinkstock.

Read Next: Do Cats Get Lonely or Are They Fine Without Other Cats?

10 thoughts on “Is Your Cat Bored?”

  1. رسانه ویکی چطور به شما کمک می کند تا دقیق، صریح و شفاف درباره خرید کالاهایی همچون کالای دیجیتالی، زیبایی و سلامت و مد و پوشاک بدانید.

  2. Barb Anderson/BusyBuzzyBee

    :) thank you for adopting from a shelter or animal hospital….I do a little rescue, darn little, but have two living now as my favorite wandered off, one was killed on the highway and I suspect a coon got the other one…I miss them all.

  3. I have 3 cats: 1 female & 2 males. They are pretty good about entertaining themselves. 1 of my males, Lucky, knows how to fetch, so he can keep me busy, too. I love cats!

  4. Cat boredom is something I deal with quite frequently. I am the ‘Kitty Mama’ of Savannah Cats and I have to admit, they are the kings of wanting to keep it fresh!!!! I’m home most of the time, especially now due to the pandemic, so I have the luxury of being able to interact with them on a regular basis. Cat trees and window views are a must. If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor enclosure (catio) to enrich their need for outdoors, that’s even better. Unfortunately, mine have only the window view. What I’ve found helpful also is, ‘toy recycling’. When they’re tired of the toys, put them away and bring out ones that have been put up. It works!!! It’s all about newness and exploration with cats. They truly are, children with fur.

    1. Barb Anderson/Busy Buzzy Bee

      Thank you for that suggestion: I have four, five month old kittens; they have a huge selection and variety of toys…this I will indeed do.
      Any suggestions here, crowsioux72@gmail…I have a kitten I almost lost…I mean blood sweat and tears, two weeks…with a lady that is VET but not a VET graduate due to the fact she could not put an animal to sleep, helped me through this and also her friend that does feline rehab/rescue…then, I discovered Nano Silver that I take for viral and bacterial infections…immune system build up and protection…she is well, happy and very, very busy..she is the only one of the four that has a good home right now…so here they will stay but your suggestion will be implemented tonight! :)

    2. Barb Anderson/Busy Buzzy Bee

      Sorry…Nano is an anti yeast, pesticide, bacteria and virus and it works…I know, I am alive because of it being introduced to me when the Dr. gave me ten years and it saved kitten..I still give just a little every other day.

    3. The tunnels and car dancer at my house with our 1 year old brothers. I also have a One Fast Cat wheel and suddenly they rediscovered it and have been running on it a lot. They are very active and jump on many things in our house and cause damage! Trying to distract them.

  5. My niece has 2 very troublemaking kittens and she is very concerned about Christmas with a tree and decorations. How can she have her decorations and keep the kitties from destroying everything?

  6. That’s why I’m glad I have two. Right after my first cat was killed by a car, I went out soon afterwards and adopted two eight week old kittens from an animal hospital. And even though cats were not designed to be indoor animals, I swore I would never let them out. But that was the purpose of getting two so that they could keep each other company while I was at work. And at ten years old they still frolic and play with other like kittens.

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