Did you know that indoor cats outlive their outdoor counterparts? This is definitely good news for pet parents who have an indoor kitty. But the thing is there's just one big problem when you've got an indoor cat: your pet could be missing out on a lot of activities and other stimulation.
See, cats have a natural instinct to hunt. If they don’t get the chance to regularly stalk and chase prey (even if they only come in toy form), you may end eventually up with a lot of damaged furniture or a depressed cat. Some cats will be so affected, they will need the help of a vet!
Moreover, persistently bored cats can also be prone to chronic stress that can potentially result in health issues like sudden weight loss, skin problems, urinary tract disease and gastrointestinal difficulties. This is just another reason why you should know how to properly deal with your cat's boredom.
Fortunately, there are tell-tale signs that cat parents can take note of to check if their feline pet is going through bouts of boredom. Many cats tend to display restless pacing and sleep excessively when they feel that they're not mentally stimulated enough.
Other cats also exhibit increased attention-seeking behavior like constantly following their pet parents around and vocalizing louder than usual. There's no need to worry just yet if you observe that your furry friend is displaying a bored disposition.
Cats respond easily to stimulation—especially when they're engaged in interactive play—and you can this to your advantage to get your pet back on track.
A Cat's Environment Plays a Key Role in Mental Stimulation
Your feline friend (like a dog) needs regular play and mental stimulation to remain a happy cat. And keeping your indoor cat from getting bored starts with the environment that he's going to be in most of the time.
Make sure your cat always has easy access to toys and activities that he loves. These include cat trees, scratching posts, cat towers and cat grass. Interactive toys like food puzzles are also highly recommended. You can easily get these toys at your local pet store or grab them online.
While they may not be as excitable as dogs, you still need to be very creative with your boredom busters when cats are involved because they can easily be put off when you engage them in the same activities or repetitive behaviors over and over.
When it comes to keeping your cat mentally stimulated, don't be afraid to try new things. Cats love to be engaged in situations and activities they've never been in before. There are even cats that like to go leash walking like dogs! Just make sure you ease your cat into wearing a harness indoors to avoid issues.
Is a Bored Cat Prone to Developing Bad or Frustrating Behavior?
The short answer is yes.
Persistently bored kitties are at risk of picking up undesirable manners and habits. Besides having the tendency to show aggression and being destructive, cats that are not given sufficient mental stimulation can also be at risk of having health problems sooner or later.
"Mentally stimulating" isn't exclusive to toys that dispense treats and dry food. It can also be applied to engaging your pet in cat exercise that can double as a play session.
Pent-up stress and anxiety can lead to aggression.
While your cat may not be that excitable compared to a dog, he isn't a big fan of staying idle and other repetitive behaviors. Cats like to have fun, too! If your kitty is feeling that he isn't engaged as much as he should in mentally stimulating activities, chances are he will display aggressive and even destructive behavior.
An extremely bored cat will resort to biting or scratching objects, other animals and even people. This is why you should have a checklist of activities to keep your cat moving but in a fun way.
Does Making a Cat Active Prevent Boredom?
The short answer is yes.
Veterinary medicine studies reveal that cats love to be engaged physically and mentally. This is to help maintain hormonal levels that make sure your cat won't become feisty and aggressive all of a sudden.
Including cat workouts in your regular schedule can help curb this undesirable behavior. Clicker training is also a nice way to get your cat going mentally. Moreover, you'll be surprised how having a toy or two like a laser pointer can help you pull this off.
Make sure you consult your vet before engaging your pet in cat exercise, especially if he's already a senior kitty or has an underlying condition. Some cats will have a tricky time participating in clicker training or playing with some toys due to this reason.
How Do You Entertain Bored Cats?
There are actually a lot of ways that you can entertain your bored kitty. The most straightforward way is to schedule a cat exercise session at least once a day. These cat workouts don't have to be physically intense, though. I highly recommend that they should be fun and engaging or else there's a big possibility that your cat won't participate.
Cat exercise can be in the form of play and you can even use toys like laser pointers to really get your pet in the mood. You can experiment with activities usually done with a dog like taking your cat for a walk or exploring the outside world—with precautions, of course.
Is Boredom Only Prevalent Among Older Cats?
The short answer is no.
A cat can experience boredom regardless of age, sex and breed. And just to emphasize, no cats are immune to boredom, too! However, two cats may behave quite differently when it comes to engaging them physically and mentally.
One may be more receptive to "paws-on" activities that involve toys like a cat tree, while the other might be more interested in play that has treats as rewards. Some felines even enjoy having cat grass, catnip and other cat-friendly plants in the equation.
There are also cats that love to relax on the windowsill or in cat trees positioned near it to watch birds as their form of stress relief.
Are Cat Toys Necessary in Keeping a Cat Mentally Stimulated?
While cat toys are very useful in helping your pet keep it clear from boredom, they are not indispensable.
There are cats that can do without them when you schedule playtime. However, it is crucial that you get your hands on essential feline gear like a scratching post, a litter box and a cat tree when you shop for toys.
Besides preventing your kitty from scraping and gouging your walls and furniture, a scratching post also helps keep your pet's claws in tiptop shape. As for a cat tree, it helps fulfill your pet's natural instinct to get to high places as a form of play and a workout rolled into one.
What are Examples of Interactive Play for Cats?
There are a lot of interactive playing ideas that you can go for to keep your pet mentally and physically engaged. How about I walk you through some of my favorites for this part of our discussion?
Organize a "hiding treats" treasure hunt.
This one is guaranteed to stimulate your cat's hunting instincts. "Hide" your pet's favorite snacks and treats around a specific area of your home like the living room. You can simply cover them with a pillow, an empty toilet paper roll or with his toys.
Then "accidentally" show your pet one of these hidden treasures and let the play hunt begin! You can also use toys that are specifically made to store treats and snacks. You can even experiment with catnip for this approach. Just remember to use very a small amount of catnip and increase it as you go along.
Get your hands on a laser pointer.
Using laser pointers is a straightforward way to engage your pet in cat exercise and play. You simply have to aim the laser toy at the floor and move it around to encourage your pet to give chase.
The laser pointer approach can also be used on dogs and other pets like birds, but it won't be as exciting and entertaining compared to a cat really getting into it.
Food puzzles do wonders for indoor cats.
Indoor cat exercise can be a bit tricky to pull off. However, there are simple ways to encourage your feline to get in on the action by using toys that are designed to contain snacks.
There are cat trees and cat condominiums that have this feature, too. These toys can even be used for catnip! You can think of them as taking cat exercise to a "whole new level."
An Indoor Cat Toy You Should Check Out
Thinking about shopping for cat toys? An exercise device has been invented by California-based Sean Farley and his team. Not only was this product invented to fight boredom for your feline friend, but also to encourage your cat to express his natural desire to run and hunt.
This very ingenious product is called One Fast Cat. It’s an exercise wheel for cats! It’s very similar to a guinea pig hamster wheel. By running up and down the wheel, this exercise wheel permits your cat to meet part of his hunting needs by spending short bursts of energy.
Some interesting facts about One Fast Cat:
Compact industrial design
Fast assembly time
Sturdy and lightweight
Made of recycled plastics
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HOMOEOPATH, NATUROPATH, REFLEXOLOGIST, TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE THERAPIST
Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.
Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.