How to Keep Your Cat From Being Bored
It can be difficult to picture what a bored cat looks like. After all, felines in general spend a good amount of their time sleeping or just chilling out. But mental stimulation is an important part of cat’s overall health. We caught up with Sally Morgan, PT CST, a holistic physical therapist for pets in Northampton, Massachusetts, and author of “What Your Cat Knows.”
“Bored cats often seem to be content couch potatoes, but cats are intelligent… people forget that they too need mental stimulation and engagement,” she says.
If you think you have a bored cat, here’s what else you need to know to help your kitty battle boredom.
Signs of a Bored Cat
Somewhat like young children, cats who are bored and feeling ignored will act up to get attention.
“Oftentimes, cats exhibit behavior that we find objectionable when they are bored,” Morgan says.
Laying down on your keyboard (again and again!) as you’re working on an important project, swatting your phone off the end table or scratching the chair you’re sitting in are all common ways a cat may try to tell you she’s bored.
“Cats need up to an hour of play daily to remain healthy and alert,” Morgan says.
If they don’t get it, they will amuse themselves their own way, which may not always end well.
Do Cats Get Lonely?
Because cats are such independent, seemingly self-sufficient beings, cat parents may never even think to ask the question, “Do cats get lonely?” But, in fact, our feline friends do yearn for our attention and interaction—at least when they’re awake! And without that companionship, felines can get depressed, losing their appetite and becoming lethargic.
How to Entertain Your Cat
- Add a new kitten to the family. One way to provide extra interaction and stave off loneliness is to add a second, close-in-age cat to your cat clan. This can be especially helpful if you have a bored kitten.“Many people get two kittens, which benefits the cats while also giving the cat parents a lot of joy watching them romp together,” Morgan says.Don’t forget to join in on the fun with your kittens.“Participating in games with the kittens will create a deeper connection that leads to a lifetime of happy play with you,” Morgan says.Also don’t forget to be enthusiastic.“Cats feel our emotions,” she says. “Our excitement will help make the game more enjoyable for them.”
- Invest in a cat scratching post. If you don’t have one, a cat scratching post is a must for funneling restless kitty energy away from your leather recliner. The SmartCat Ultimate Scratching Post is sized so your cat can fully stretch out as she claws contently. If your cat needs a little extra enticement to use a new scratching post, a dusting of catnip should do the trick. Yeowww! Organic Catnip comes in a tub that reseals so it stays fresh, and it contains only leaves and flower tops for high potency.
- Try interactive cat toys. Indeed, entertaining your cat means more than just hanging a cat toy somewhere, stresses Morgan.“Cats thrive on interactive play, such as laser light tag,” she says. “Also, feather wand toys seem to be particularly appealing to cats. Those can lead to jumping and other antics that are as fun for you to watch as they are for your cat to perform!”
A perfect example of that kind of toy is the SmartyKat Frisky Flyer. Some kitties even like chasing a cat toy ball you roll toward them or throw for them to fetch, not unlike their canine comrades.“These chase-and-catch games appeal to their strong prey drive,” Morgan says. “You can try starting with short play periods of five minutes or so.”A cat hangout with cut-outs, like the Midwest Curious Cube, can provide plenty of opportunities for mini-ambushes. Another option in the same vein is a cat tree, like the Frisco Cat Tree, which has platforms, dangling cat toys and a “cave” for planning stealth attacks.
- Turn on the faucet. Most cats love water running from a faucet.
“Slapping at a trickle of lukewarm water can be blast for a cat,” Morgan says.
Cat water fountains, notes Morgan, are almost always a hit with cats who need a bit more action in their lives. Plus, cat water fountains, such as the Drinkwell Avalon Pet Fountain, encourage cats to drink more often so you can feel confident that your kitty is adequately hydrated.
- Provide mental stimulation. Lastly, don’t overlook purely mental forms of entertainment.
“Cats are visual,” Morgan says. “Toys with fish or birds on a moving screen that your cat can watch will keep her attention for a while.
”Or you can set your cat up with front-row seat to the great outdoors with a just-for-her window cat perch, such as the Oster Sunny Seat. Happy window watching!
Morgan notes that if your cat is a senior or has health issues, check with your vet before trying different methods of cat entertainment.
Christina Vercelletto is a pet, travel and lifestyle content specialist and a former editor of Parenting, Scholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her Chiweenie, Pickles, and 20-pound Calico, Chub-Chub.