Do Cats Get Bored?
Do cats get bored? It's a valid concern. You want your fur baby to be happy and healthy, but you might worry that your cat doesn't have enough activities to stay entertained. A cat that over-grooms, eats too much, or becomes a little destructive might have too much pent-up energy because he's bored. You can help by providing lots of mental stimulation through interactive toys, playtime, cat trees and perches, and clicker training.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Bored
If left alone for too long without a lot of mental stimulation, cats can get bored. As natural predators, cats crave hunting and desire some variety in their day. Their bodies naturally store up energy for a big hunt. But if they don't get that hunt, they can become listless.
If your cat is bored, you'll know. They give quite a few signs to clue you in. Sleeping a lot isn't a reliable indicator since cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day.1 Better indicators of boredom include overly grooming to the point of pulling out fur, chasing or fighting with other pets, no longer being curious about the world around them, or overeating.2 Cats that are bored might also develop some destructive and "naughty" habits like scratching the furniture, pulling out rolls of toilet paper, or even attacking or scratching at you. Cats with too much energy will look for ways to release that pent-up energy, but this won't always come out in positive ways. If you notice misbehavior like this, it doesn't mean your cat is purposefully disobeying you. She might just need something to do.
How to Make Your Cat Happy Indoors
Of course, indoor cats are more prone to boredom. The good news is that with a little creativity on your part, indoor cats can have fun and adventure-filled lives. Here are some ideas to get started.
Interactive Toys and Play Time
Interactive toys like "red dot" laser toys, kitty wands, ball trackers, and roller toys engage your cat's natural instinct to hunt. Consider rewarding your cat with a treat after playtime so he has the satisfaction of "catching and eating" his prey.
Nothing makes your cat happier than playtime with you, so try creating your own personal games too. You might hide treats in different spots in the house to surprise your cat. Or hold your cat's favorite treat in your hand and run up and down the hallway, encouraging your cat to chase you.
Interactive feeders are another great option. Instead of feeding your cat in a bowl, put his kibble in a puzzle toy that encourages him to "hunt" for his food.
Cat TV and Cat Trees
Cat scratchers, trees, and "cat TV" can help your cat scratch that outdoor itch. Look into putting tall cat trees in different parts of your home for your kitty to climb, along with condos and cat shelves for exploring.
Cat scratchers are a good way for your cat to indulge her instinctual behavior to mark her territory.3 You might want to try both horizontal and vertical scratchers to figure out your cat's preference.
You might also want to set up a bird feeder outside a window with a window bed for a form of "cat TV."
Clicker training is a great way to keep your cat from getting bored.4 You'll need a clicker device and some treats. Start out with simple commands like sit, high five, hug, fetch, or ringing a bell. Before long, your cat will be jumping through hoops and onto chairs on command. If you're not sure how to get started training your cat, there are great YouTube videos that can help.5
After you've clicker trained your cat, why not set up an obstacle course for him? Arrange a course that includes running through tunnels, jumping on chairs, and jumping through hoops. Practice every day and reward with treats.
Cats certainly can get bored, but some playtime and a little cat TV can keep them engaged and happy. With these creative ideas, you can give your cat plenty of adventures and hunting opportunities within the safety of your own home.
- Lichtenberg, Debora. "Relax, Your Cat Is Probably Not Sleeping 'Too Much' (Here's Why)." Petful, 12 June 2019, https://www.petful.com/pet-health/cat-sleeps-too-much/.
- Danbury Animal Welfare Society. "Signs of Boredom in Your Cat." DAWS.org, http://daws.org/signs-of-boredom-in-your-cat/.
- The Humane Society of The United States. "Cats: Destructive Scratching." HumaneSociety.org, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/cats-destructive-scratching.
- Karen Pryor Clicker Training. "Cat Training." ClickerTraining.com, https://www.clickertraining.com/cat-training.
- Cat School, "A 2-Min Intro to Clicker Training." YouTube.com, 22 July 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNMxKDFYdjE&list=PLFHgBLsEfP2ntPmqC0sjGlBHQrG7H3UZ5.