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Is Your Cat Bored? 9 Signs To Look For and The Best Ways to Entertain Them

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Cats are often associated with laziness, but in reality they may be really unhappy and oversleeping is just one of the signs of a bored cat.

One reason cats might succumb to boredom is a lack of exercise and activities. Like their wild ancestors, domesticated cats still have the instincts to hunt and explore, but if they are kept inside all day with little opportunity to express these natural behaviours they will become bored. Even though you’re keeping them indoors to protect them, being able to engage their instincts leads to a happier, healthier cat.

In general the main signs of a bored cat are; excessive sleeping, non-stop meowing, destructiveness and obsessive behaviours such as over-grooming which can easily be resolved with enrichment activities to stimulate them both mentally and physically.

There are three main activities that cats require when it comes to stimulation: hunting, exploration and play. Many of us provide one of these activities but we don’t often provide all three together.

If you are going out to work during the day, you’ll need to find ways to provide these activities for your cat to keep them happy and healthy. Especially if your cat is an indoor cat and is spending large amounts of their day alone, eventually boredom strikes or they’ll suffer from separation anxiety.

If you’re a concerned pet parent and think that your cat might be bored, here are the top 9 signs that may signify they’re feeling unfulfilled and I’ll share with you how to alleviate their boredom with some great cat enrichment ideas.

Check For These 9 Signs That Your Cat May Be Bored

When it comes to cat boredom, there are a few different factors at play: cats require certain levels of stimulation in order to feel engaged, and extended periods without stimulation will cause them to get bored.

It’s not always easy to know if your cat is bored or just lounging around, but there are some surefire signs that something isn’t quite right. Repetitive behaviours, also known as pet obsessive-compulsive behaviours are some of the most common. The list below outlines some of the main reasons cats may be exhibiting these behaviours and what you can do about it.

1) Excessive vocalising

can be a sign of boredom. Cats have been known to meow when they want something from their owner – usually food or attention. If your cat has been meowing more lately it’s possible that they need more stimulation than usual. Non-stop meowing can also be an indication that your cat might feel unwell so it’s best to check with your vet to rule out medical reasons.

2) They stop playing as much

When cats get bored they tend to stop playing with toys and other objects which they have previously had fun with. If you notice your cat isn’t playing as much, it might be a sign that boredom is setting in.

3) They hide and don’t want to interact anymore

Cats ‘hide’ when they are feeling scared, sick, or upset – so we tend to think of this action as something negative. In a sense it is, when they hide inside a closet or under the bed because they are feeling bored. They aren’t hiding to feel better about their situation – instead they are hiding for no reason at all.

4) Scratching or chewing on furniture

Chewing on furniture, shinning up curtains (my cat’s favourite) or shredding your stair carpet is a common type of destructive behaviour that occurs when cats are trying to find something to do in their environment to entertain themselves.

5) Accidents in the house

When cats are bored they can sometimes forget to use their litter boxes, which is a sure sign that the kitty needs more attention. Not going to the bathroom in the litter box is frustrating, especially when you find a warm pile of cat poop on your fresh bed linen. 

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Poop in your bed is not welcome.

6) Excessive sleeping

It’s normal for cats to sleep a lot (around 15 hours a day), but if you think that your cat has snoozed more than usual in 24 hours – then they might be feeling lethargic due to boredom. Cats like routine so it’s possible that the lack of activity in their life is causing them to lose interest and sleep more than usual.

7) They stop eating or overeating

If your cat is not eating as much as usual then you may think that something is wrong. It’s possible they might be frustrated and bored or possibly sick. Some cats will just eat and eat, not because they are hungry, but like us, they’ll eat for something to do. This can lead to your cat being overweight which will make them lethargic and more depressed as well as the health issues that go with obesity. If your cats eating habits suddenly change, seek advice from your vet to rule out a medical issue.

8) Excessive grooming

Over-grooming is a common sign of boredom for cats and often occurs when they are stressed or anxious. They will lick, bite and chew on their skin causing inflammation and irritation, which leads to more licking and grooming and more sore patches. They can even lick themselves bald with boredom.

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Overgrooming can be a sign of boredom in your cat

9) Aggression toward other animals or people

Cats that are bored or lonely will often interrupt the peace of the household by chasing and attacking other animals. This may include lashing out at you too. This aggressive behaviour can escalate quickly so it is best nipped in the bud.

So, now you’ve checked for these warning signs, what can you do? Well, if your cat is showing signs of boredom start engaging them more. You can take them on walks, buy a tall scratching post or put their food in toys to make it more fun to eat. It’s important for cats to have mental stimulation so that they stay happy and healthy.

7 Enrichment Ideas To Alleviate Your Cat’s Boredom

Cats are the masters of their domain, and if they seem bored it can be a sign that you’re not meeting their needs. Maybe your cat isn’t getting enough stimulation throughout the day? I am a huge advocate for enrichment and never stuck for ideas. Here are 7 easy boredom busters to keep your kitty’s mind stimulated and happy!

Set Out Some Puzzle Feeders

Cats love puzzles! They’re great fun for them and will provide hours of mental exercise while keeping their minds sharp. You’ll want to set up several puzzle feeders throughout your house. These should include both large and small pieces. Smaller pieces are easier on the eyes and smaller paws. Larger pieces require more coordination and dexterity which makes them perfect for older cats who might struggle with mobility issues.

These are my favourite two cat puzzle feeders:

Scratching Post and Cat Trees

Scratching posts and cat trees are great ways to give your cat something to scratch instead of furniture. They don’t require much maintenance either since most come pre-assembled. Be sure to place these items where your cat has access to them all the time. Cats need vertical space for climbing, stretching, scratching and playing. A good cat tree will have various perches in different heights as well as hiding spots and tunnels for them to explore on a daily basis.

Make Some Fun Toys

Cats are natural hunters and explorers. They’ve been doing this since before we were even human beings. That means their brains are wired to enjoy playing around and exploring new places. Toys help stimulate these behaviours and make sure your cat gets what they need to feel fulfilled. You don’t necessarily need expensive toys; anything will work as long as it keeps your cat interested.  Emtpy toilet roll holders, ping-pong balls and scrunched up tin foil all make great DIY toys. Here’s my article on how to use simple household items to create 12 enrichment box ideas for your cat to explore.

Hide Toys For Hunting

A basket of toys make look appealing to you, but to your cat it’s just a stash of already killed prey. Cats like to hunt and you can stimulate this with toys hidden around your house. Try putting a catnip mouse behind a cushion with its tail poking out, or hide a crinkly ball in a paper bag. Tig our farm cat loves to sneak in and fish out her favourite treats that I’ve hidden in a jiffy bag on the shelf. She has such a smug look on her face when she’s knocked it on the floor and scoffed a few.

Get Them a Feline Friend

Cats can quickly become territorial when they are bored and start swiping at you or the dog if you’re in ‘their’ space. To avoid this you could consider getting your cat a pal. My siamese cat had his bestie Bonnie and they went everywhere together (double trouble they were nicknamed). Having another warm body around will not only provide companionship for your pet, but may also allow you some peace of mind knowing that they are not completely alone in the house all day long! Although this doesn’t guarantee they won’t get up to mischief together!

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Cat buddies keep each other company.

Give a bored cat plenty of attention

This includes both physical contact as well as mental stimulation. Cats love affectionate touch but they also thrive on intellectual stimulation. Playtime games such as hide-and-seek, peekaboo, and using a flirt pole will help stimulate your cat mentally while providing lots of opportunity for playful interactions with you.

Keep your cat active

Even indoor cats benefit greatly by having access to an open space where they can roam around and exercise. If you don’t have a garden of your own you can put your cat into a harness on a long line and take them for a walk in the park or out across the fields.

TL;DR

In this article I have addressed how it is possible to help a cat that is bored. This is important because boredom can quickly lead to health and behaviour problems. The first suggestion was to give a cat attention that includes both physical contact and mental stimulation. Other suggestions were to provide an open space for the cats to roam, or take them on walks in the park or across the field while in a harness. The last suggestion was to keep your cat active by providing toys that stimulate their minds, or giving them affectionate touches and playing with them. If you notice any changes in your cat’s behaviour it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian and rule out any underlying issues of a medical nature.

Signs of boredom in cats:

  • Laying around excessively
  • Destructive behaviour like chewing on furniture
  • Increased number of accidents in the house
  • Vocalising or meowing for no apparent reason

Help your cat get out of their boredom rut by:

1) buying them toys and hiding them

2) playing with them more together

3) giving them more attention than usual (especially one on one attention from you!)

4) making sure they are eating regularly

5) if nothing else works, consider getting another cat as a companion for your current cat!

For more ideas read my Complete Guide to Cat Enrichment which is packed full of ideas.

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