How To Tell If A Cat Is Bored + 9 Easy Remedies
Many new cat owners think of cats as sort of a “set it and forget it” pet. You feed them, you make sure they have water, and you clean their litter box. Aside from that, cats basically take care of themselves, right?
Well, not exactly.
Sure, your cat can take care of their well being. But they still require plenty of mental stimulation and physical stimulation. And just like humans, if cats aren’t properly stimulated then they will likely develop destructive behaviors that can be detrimental to you, your home, and even your other pets.
Also, cats may seem independent to new cat owners, but they’re actually very social animals. Cat parents need to understand how important it is to interact with their cat(s) regularly.
We’re gong to help answer the question of how to tell if a cat is bored AND we’re going to tell you how experts recommend you cure their boredom.
Below are 9 common ways to tell if your cat is bored. Keep in mind that your cat may only show one or two of these signs OR they may exhibit a lot more. Different breeds of cats at different ages will all act differently.
Please understand that our content is simply written as a suggestion. If you believe your cat has any health issues or medical issues then you need to call your vet immediately!
One of the most common signs of boredom in cats is overeating. Cats that are bored will often start showing repetitive behaviors. One of those behaviors is eating.
Us humans do it too! You’d be lying if you said you’ve never sat down and enjoyed a snack simply because there was nothing else to do. Cats, unfortunately, are not immune to this sort of behavior.
Animals like to eat. So if a cat is bored, why wouldn’t it default to doing something that it likes to do? Their food bowl is likely sitting out just waiting to help them pass the time.
Excessive Grooming (Yes, this is actually bad)
Your cat’s brain tells them that they need to groom themselves regularly in order to live a happy, healthy life. Grooming obviously helps your furry friend stay clean, but it also has numerous medical benefits.
In addition to staying clean, grooming helps your cat distribute essential oils throughout their cat, it helps them regulate their body temperature, and it relieves stress.
Cats that aren’t properly stimulated will sometimes ‘default’ to grooming themselves. Their brain tells them it’s healthy, they’re bored and have nothing to do, so they just groom away.
Excessive grooming can be detrimental to a cat’s coat and their skin. Cats are normally very good with regulating how much they groom themselves, but a bored kitty will likely over do it which can lead to you having a heft vet bill if it’s done too much.
Terrorizing Other Pets In The House
Depending on their breed, terrorizing other animals is one of cat’s favorite boredom busters. Cats are natural hunters with a very strong prey instinct. If they run out of stuff to do then they may turn their attention towards another pet. And we’re not talking about normal cat-style playing here.
Don’t get me wrong, cats love to play with other cats in the household. They love to ambush the dog. Stalking the pet hamster is a favorite pastime of theirs. But, a bored cat will often take things too far.
Like we mentioned with grooming, cats’ brains make them feel like they have to do something.
Hunting is one of those instincts that cats will never leave behind. Outdoor cats are terrors to the local wildlife. Why? Because they’re bored. In fact, outdoor cats kill up to 4 BILLION birds each year and 22 BILLION mammals.
Those figures are even more terrifying when you realize that this only accounts for outdoor cats in America. That’s right, this is not a worldwide figure. They literally do all of this out of boredom.
Now imagine that same boredom with and indoor cat that only has his or her pet siblings to terrorize!
Extended Periods Of Inactivity
You would think that a bored cat would get up and try and find something to do, right? Well that’s not always the case with cats.
Sure, cats being crepuscular means you’ll likely catch them napping throughout parts of the day, but we’re not talking about long cat naps here.
If your cat is sleeping more than usual and is being more sedentary than they normally would be, then it’s possible that they’re simply bored.
Think of how a bored human will just lay in bed and play on their phone, or binge watch Netflix while they drift in and out of sleep. Cats are mammals just like us and sometimes boredom leads to inactivity.
Exhibiting Destructive Behaviors
A bored cat can be dangerous to your furniture, your carpets, your curtains, and just about anything else in the house that they can sink their claws into. If you’re not physically and mentally stimulating your cat, then they will often get out there and create their own stimulation.
Think about a kid who is bored and isn’t challenged enough. Those are the types of kids that often get into trouble. They might turn to destructive behaviors to both let out some energy and to garner some attention from their parents.
Cats are no different when exhibiting this type of behavior.
Your Cat Is Moping Around The House
Moping around the house is just one notch above extended periods of inactivity. Thing about a depressed and angsty teen. Sure, there may be some days where they just stay in bed and don’t leave their room, but there may also be days where they feel like getting up and moving, but only enough to result in moping around.
A cat that’s moping around is likely too bored to find enjoyment in the things that used to excite them before BUT they still feel the need to get up and move around a little bit.
If your cat is moping around the house then it’s likely that they aren’t getting enough mental stimulation. Remember, cats need both mental and physical stimulation!
They Create Their Own Stimulation
You would think this option for a bored cat would be good, right? They’re bored so they take the initiative to get up and find something to do. Well, that’s not always a good thing!
Domesticated indoor cats need a little bit of guidance as far as how to stay busy. This is why our cats are supposed to have plenty of toys, scratching posts, a cat tree or two, etc…
(We’ll get into what your cat needs a little further down but if you just got yourself one of those fancy Craigslist kittens then you might want to check out our new kitten checklist!)
Without guidance from their pet parents on how to stay stimulated and entertained, a bored cat who creates their own stimulation might get into some trouble. This trouble goes beyond the destructive behaviors that we mentioned above.
Getting into trouble by creating their own stimulation can also mean other issues, such as a cat that tries to escape through an opened window, or a cat that finagles their way into the hot water heater closet (or anywhere else they shouldn’t be.)
I’ve seen cats create their own stimulation by destroying furniture, darting outside the second a door opens, making a mess by tearing up a bag of flour, “digging” in their water bowl and getting water all of the floor… you get the idea!
Scratching Or Chewing On Furniture
Scratching or chewing on furniture goes hand in hand with destructive behaviors. Since these behaviors can be detrimental to your household, it’s worth talking about one more time.
A bored cat can and will mess your furniture up. It only gets worse if you scold the cat. Unlike dogs, cats do not know how to equate a punishment with something they’ve done wrong. So yelling at your cat for simply being bored is not going to cut it.
So what can you do? Let’s take a look to see how to keep your cat from getting bored!
How To Keep Your Cat From Getting Bored
You now know the signs of a cat who is bored, now we’re going to go over how to stop them from getting bored. All you have to do is provide your cat with adequate mental and physical stimulation. That’s all it takes.
A cat that is properly stimulated both mentally and physically will undoubtedly live a happier and healthier life! Here are some tips experts recommend to keep your cat from getting bored.
Keep Your Cat Active
Keeping your cat active is the obvious first step to preventing boredom. What’s the best way to keep a bored cat active? Well, just think about how cats would act if they lived out in the wild!
Before we domesticated cats, they obviously had to fend for themselves. Thousands and thousands (and thousands more!) years of evolution has turned cats into lean and mean hunting machines.
Even though they’ve been domesticated for 2,000+ years, your cute little kitty still has an insanely-strong predator/prey instinct. Their brains tell them that they MUST hunt something, even if it’s just for fun.
A great way to help your feline friend release some energy is to take advantage of this!
Get some wand toys that have a long string and a toy or some feathers at the end. Wave it around and make the toy or the feathers move like it’s a little helpless mouse or bird. Make your cut run and jump to catch and “kill” the toy.
NOTE: If you have kittens or young cats, it’s best to hide any toys with strings, ropes, or feathers so that the kittens don’t swallow the feathers or get tangled up in the rope.
Another great way to combat their boredom is with a laser pointer. Chasing after that bright red, fast-moving dot is really going to stimulate them both mentally and physically!
Give A Bored Cat Plenty Of Attention
If your cat is bored then simply giving them some attention can help them feel better. A bored cat doesn’t always need to play necessarily (although play time is VERY important). Sometimes just giving them some attention and affection will help.
It may seem strange to a first-time cat owner, but us seasoned cat parents will ALWAYS be interacting with our cats!
Is your cat watching you cook in the kitchen? Talk to them in a nice voice, even if they can’t understand what you’re saying. Seriously, talk to them as if you’ve got a friend in the kitchen helping you cook.
Let them smell the bell pepper you’re about to cut up. Let them lick your fingers when you pull the bacon out of the pan. Pick them up and show them the food you’re preparing, just don’t let them get too close to the heat!
If your cat is awake and nearby, then get them involved in literally anything that you’re doing. Talk to them about the show you’re watching on Netflix. Ask them if they like the shirt you’re about to wear out to dinner.
Does Your Bored Cat Need A Friend?
When my wife and I rescued our first Bengal, we had no idea what we were in for. She came from a rough household and she was VERY hard to deal with, even for us seasoned cat owners.
She always seemed on edge and anxious, we couldn’t give her any attention or affection without her running away, and she would always just run up to us and bite us REALLY hard. We knew she needed something but we couldn’t figure it out.
My wife and I made sure she had plenty of enrichment, tons of mental and physical stimulation, and we would try to give her as much affection as she would let us, but it just wasn’t enough.
At the time, she was the only cat in our home. About 6 months after rescuing her, we had the opportunity to rescue another kitty. This was a BIG boy, he was 20+ pounds and some kind of Maine Coon + Norwegian Forest Cat mix. He was very playful and very affectionate. Plus, since he was so massive, we knew our Bengal wouldn’t be able to pick on him.
Within the first month or two of rescuing the big boy, our Bengal slowly started calming down and turning more into a happy cat. Here we are a year later and she doesn’t bite us or scratch us anymore, she lets us shower her with affection, and on most days she doesn’t seem anxious at all.
All she needed was a friend! If you’ve exhausted everything else on this list, then maybe consider getting your cat a friend that can keep them company while you’re not at home.
Scratching Posts And Cat Trees
Cats instinctively love to scratch and climb things. In fact, they NEED to do these things.
When it comes to scratching, it serves numerous purposes. First, it helps them with emotions. Cats can show excitement and relieve stress by scratching. Scratching also helps cats leave their scent and it helps them remove dead parts of their claws.
Climbing is also something that your cat’s brain tells it that it must do. Cats in the wild feel very safe when they get to climb up in a tree and take a nap high up away from predators.
Your cat’s brain is literally telling them they need to scratch and they need to climb. Not having access to either of these things can make for a bored (and anxiously destructive) kitty.
Running Wheel To Expend Energy
Another reason that cats get bored is because they have so much pent up energy that they just can’t seem to release. This is especially true on smaller homes or apartments. You can’t exactly take your cat out to the dog park and let them run around, so what do you do?
You get them a running wheel!
A running wheel helps keep your cat’s weight in check which also leads to a reduced risk of them getting feline diabetes. They will also be much happier and you can give them something to do when they feel the need to go crazy in the middle of the night!
Puzzle Feeders (Food Puzzles)
Puzzle feeders AKA food puzzles are a great form of mental stimulation that come with a reward for your kitty’s hard work.
Think about a cat that’s out in the wild. Do they just happen to have a bowl of food always ready for them when it’s time to eat? No, they have to get out there and figure out how to find food themselves. And finding food goes beyond just hunting a little rodent and eating it.
Puzzle feeders are great at mimicking the ways your cat would have to find food in the wild. Remember, cats have only been domesticated for 2,000 years which isn’t long at all in terms of evolution. Because of this, your cat’s brain still tells them that they need to get out and “find” food.
Hiding treats around the house, such as under their favorite blanket, is a great alternative to getting a food puzzle or puzzle feeder!
Let Your Cat Look Outside
If you’re new to this blog then you might not know that we will NEVER advocate for any cat to go outside. Even if it’s just for a little while. Outdoor cats have an average life span of 2-5 years. Indoor cats can live to be 15-18+ years old.
But you shouldn’t cut your cat off from the outside world completely!
Sometimes setting your cat up with a nice window seat, preferably one that has a bird feeder outside, is enough to keep them mentally stimulated for as long as it takes them to get to their next nap time.
Give Them Places To Hide
Another great way to mentally enrich your cats is to make sure they have plenty of places to hide. This can be as simple as getting a cardboard box or two and putting some blankets in there for them.
Your cat’s brain tells them to find places to hide so that they can feel safe. Actually giving them places to hide is a wonderful idea for them!
Hire A Cat Sitter
I know this is out of reach for a lot of people and that’s why we’re listing it way down here at the bottom. Sometimes it’s hard for a single-parent household to give their pets the attention they need. Although they’re much easier than dogs, cats still need attention from you.
If you work long hours or are rarely ever home then consider using a pet-sitting service. Pet sitters will come by once (or twice) a day, or however many times you pay them to come by. They’ll give your cat some attention, play with them, and will make sure they’ve got food and water.