Do cats get bored? They certainly do, and when a cat gets bored, they can become a menace in your home. Medical or behavior problems can be behind some of the issues you may be having with your cat, but because boredom is the simplest solution and the easiest to fix, start there before you assume that there’s something deeper going on. Cats aren’t the only pets in the world that experience boredom, after all – all other animals do, and bored humans are just as likely to cause messes as housecats are.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Bored
A bored cat will be quick to show you that they aren’t having a good time. Many cats require stimulation to get rid of any pent-up energy that they have in their day-to-day life. Cats enjoy having fun and being challenged. At their core, they are a predator species; one that is used to hunting and using their claws to get the things that they need.
Cats will show a bright-eyed interest in new prey brought into their environment. All cat toys are considered prey to cats, and these are a staple part of battling boredom for your feline friend. As well as standard cat toys, there are other stimulation products available for cats that we’ll talk about later.
Signs of a Bored Cat:
- Shredded carpet corners
- Scratches on furniture
- Destroyed toys
- Attention-seeking behavior
- Climbing all over you when you’re sitting or lying down
- Headbutting your hands
- Clawing at your clothes
- Jumping up to high places (such as bookshelves or the top of your closet)
- Fighting with other cats in the home
- Picking a fight with other pets in your home
- Scattering litter from the litter box
- Pulling apart their toys or scratching posts
- A cat who starts to repeatedly lick themselves
All these signs point towards negative cat behavior caused by bored cats that don’t feel like they have anything to entertain them.
What to do With a Bored Cat
A bored cat needs an outlet for their destructive behavior. Cats require a stimulating environment that will keep them active, entertained, and away from using your furniture as a guinea pig to test out their claws.
The best way to beat boredom in a cat’s life without spending too much on toys is to spend time with your cat. Pet parents should be aware of how crucial socialization is for their animals. Cats are social animals, you will see positive changes in their behavior if you just start playing with them a little more often.
However, if you don’t have children of your own or aren’t in possession of free time during the day, there are plenty of boredom busters on the market that your cat will enjoy playing with. Some can even simulate a chase with prey, like automatic laser pointers for cats.
Unfortunately, some new pet parents don’t understand that cats spend their entire day just eating, sleeping, and playing. When their cat acts out in boredom, they don’t know how to curb the behavior, and some cats end up being given up for adoption. What’s so sad about that is that these cats have no health issues and their behavior continues because it’s not being addressed.
How to Entertain a Cat
Wondering how to entertain cats? Bored cats can be destructive and may exhibit undesirable behavior that puts your carpets and furniture at risk. Cat parents with indoor cats will know the damage that a bored cat can cause well. Indoor cats need a range of cat toys and other stimulants to stop them from clawing and shredding things, or from doing other repetitive behaviors that cat parents find issues with.
Destructive boredom is a frustrating behavior for your cat to have, but it is the direct result of your cat’s environment and the habits that they’ve picked up. Cats need physical stimulation as much as they need mental stimulation. Learn how to keep your cat entertained with toys, games, and more!
10 Ways to Prevent Boredom
1. Scratching Posts
Add a scratching post to each floor of your home to prevent your cat from using furniture or carpets to vent their frustration.
2. Cat Trees
Buy a tall cat tree that has more than one or two levels, the more perches and toy attachments, the better.
Add interactive toys to the areas of your home that your cat likes to play in.
Create perches for your cat in front of secure windows. This will allow them to hunt with their eyes, watch the outside world, and be stimulated mentally.
You may also check out our review, and get the best cat window perch for your pet.
Hide treats around your home for your cat to find. There are some toys, like puzzle feeders, that work well as boredom busters, too. For a wider selection of choices, check out our best cat treats guide.
6. Adopt a Second Pet
Adopt a new kitty for your cat to chase and be friends with (remember to follow socialization rules and introduce the new kitty slowly).
You could also try adopting a dog, but you will need to spend a good amount of time introducing them to your cat, and you should only adopt dogs that have positive histories with other cats.
7. Buy or Build a Catio
Add a catio to the back of your home so that your cat can play outside safely. These are the perfect structure for any house in a neighborhood that isn’t very safe, or for owners that live on busy streets.
8. Invite Your Friends Over
Introduce your cat to other humans. This form of socialization can take time, but it does mean that your cat won’t hide away each time you have that person over. Your cat needs to make friends the same way you do.
9. More Scratchers
Install horizontal scratchers in your home. These should be included alongside standard scratching posts because some cats do have preferences for dulling down their claws.
Set aside time to play with your cat every day. You can use a combination of toys, training, and made-up games to entertain your cat for some one-on-one time every day.
Games to Play With Your Cat
On the subject of setting aside time to play with your pet, why not buy some interactive cat toys that will keep your pet busy when you aren’t at home? Most interactive toys have a manual and an automatic setting so that they can be put on a timer during the day when you’re out of the house.
For more hands-on playtime, try putting together some treasure hunts for your pet. You can create a maze or obstacle course out of cardboard boxes and use treats to have your cat reach the goal. Puzzle feeders can be a great addition to this kind of play, and they will certainly keep your cat busy for a while. There are plenty of simple cat games that your kitty will enjoy.
You can also teach your cat tricks or how to play fetch. Like training a dog, these activities will require time and patience, but it is possible to teach your cat a few basic commands and have them listen to you. Just remember that pets and other animals respond best to positive reinforcement and not punishment, screaming, or being struck. Negative reinforcement will only make your cat hate you, which they will then take out on your belongings and your person when you try to pick them up.
Is My Cat Bored?
Other than the obvious destruction of your property and home, there are several signs that point towards boredom in cats.
- Apathy: A cat that is disinterested in activities that they used to be excited about.
- Anxiety: A cat that seems high-strung, stressed, or worried for seemingly no reason.
- Eating too much or too little: When your cat’s food habits change, that’s a huge sign that something is off.
- Fighting with other pets: Whether it’s the dog, your other cats, or any small animals that you have in your home.
A cat who is causing trouble isn’t the only cat that may be suffering from boredom. Watch out for all of these signs to keep your cat happy and healthy.
If you do notice that your cat is starting to have an issue with their food, such as their food bowl being left full most of the time, consider scheduling a veterinarian visit to check for possible health problems.
Q: What are the best toys for cats to have?
A: For basic toys, focus on items that roll, make noise, or can be batted at by your cat’s claws. Cats enjoy being able to chase and fight things, in place of doing the same to prey in the wild. Plush kickers are great for cats, as are small balls that have bells inside of them. Your cat will like mice of various textures and materials, too.
Q: Why is my cat grooming so much?
A: Cats overgroom for several reasons – including, but not limited to, boredom. Bored cats will repeatedly tug at their own fur and skin, and they can potentially cause long-lasting damage to themselves through these acts. Overgrooming isn’t primarily a sign of boredom, but it is definitely one reason that your cat might be licking themselves a bit too much. A quick vet visit will offer more advice.