How to Tell if Your Cat is Bored (& How to Engage Them)

by | Sep 8, 2023 | Animal Wisdom, Safety

Often when we think about our kitties, we picture them lounging in the sun all day, maybe meowing for some pets or food, perhaps swatting around a cat toy. We consider them very stoic, independent creatures. Often we think of them as animals who don’t often need – or even want – a lot of interaction from us.

The thing is, just like us, our cats can get lonely and bored. And this can impact their overall health and wellness.

So, how can you tell if your cat is bored, and how can you fix the problem?

Signs a Cat is Bored

Boredom can lead to stress, which is not good for an animal. It can also lead to unwanted behaviours that impact your cat’s health and the health of others. 

There are several different signs that cats will exhibit if they’re bored. And often they’re ones we mistake for regular feline behaviour or consider normal. That said, many of these could be signs of another issue. Before you start to fret, try some of the tricks below and if the behaviour stops, you’ll know boredom is the culprit.

Here are some signs of boredom to look out for:

  1. Overgrooming. Yes, cats groom themselves, and some more than others. However, over-grooming is something you want to keep an eye on. Excessive licking, pulling out their fur, or chewing at their skin, may all be signs a cat is bored.
  2. Excessive meowing. Cats meow – and some meow a lot – even if they get lots of physical and mental stimulation. However, if your kitty is constantly weaving around your feet crying, they could be doing it because they want (and need) some attention from you. 
  3. Peeing outside the litter box. If the litter box is clean, and your cat still refuses to use it, it could be a bid for attention – meaning they’re bored and want some engagement. Remember, this can also be a sign of a health condition, such as a bladder or urinary issue, so try the tricks first, but if the behaviour doesn’t stop, speak to your trusted veterinarian.
  4. Overeating. This is especially true if you free-feed your cat. We don’t recommend leaving food out for cats to pick away at all day, as this can lead to weight gain and it can be tough to tell how much your cat is eating. But if they always seem to be hungry, it could be a sign that they’re looking for something to do!
  5. Destructive behaviour. Just like dogs, if a cat is bored they may start causing a ruckus around the house. This could mean scratching at the furniture, chewing on non-chew toys, knocking things off counters, or just general destruction. Again, this could be a definite sign that your cat is looking for attention and needs some mental stimulation.
  6. Bugging other pets. An engaged cat is a happy, relaxed cat. If your cat is constantly terrorizing other pets in the house, it could be a sign that they are bored and need something to do. Because other pets will typically react, they become an easy (if undesirable) outlet.
  7. General inactivity. It’s easy to chock this up to the belief that cats can be overly lazy, but every cat should be doing some moving around during the day, especially young cats. This could be climbing their cat tree, playing with a cat toy, or going outside (if they’re allowed to). If your cat seems depressed or never seems to want to leave the comfort of their bed, it could be that they’re bored.

How to Keep Your Can Engaged

Ok, so your cat displays some signs that they may need some engagement. Now what?

Here are a few simple ways to give your cat the mental stimulation (and often physical activity) they crave!

  • Catnip – most cats go bananas for cat nip, and it can help get them moving around and using their brain!
  • A cat tree – the act of climbing and navigating a cat tree is a good way to engage your cat’s natural instincts. Climbing shelves on the walls at different levels and different shapes are also really good!
  • A scratching post – scratching is another natural feline behaviour (and it can significantly reduce the damage done to the arms of your couch)!
  • Go for a walk – get a cat harness and leash and head out for a stroll, whether that be around the backyard or around the neighbourhood!
  • Toys – there are so many different cat toys out there. Most cats love the ones with the string and the feather and will jump around for ages trying to grab it. 
  • Feeding puzzles – Puzzle feeders are toys that contain food or treats, but your cat has to work to figure out how to release them. They engage your cat’s natural hunting instincts, and it will keep the brain stimulated. In fact, simulating the hunt helps to start the digestive process!
  • Give them an empty box to play with. It’s amazing how well this can work to keep your cat stimulated!
  • Get your cat a friend – now, this is not a simple solution, or something to decide on a whim. Some cats like buddies, others prefer alone time. Make sure you do your research and speak to your trusted veterinarian first!

If your cat is bored, one of the best things you can do for them is spend time with them. Talk to them, play with them, snuggle them. They want your affection and attention. This can relieve stress, make them feel good, and it strengthens your bond with them. You kitty is a part of your family, and has needs and wants just like everyone else in your home.

So, if you notice signs of boredom and want to help give your cat some mental stimulation, use the tips above to add some fun to your feline’s day – and your own!

The Adored Beast Team

Bringing you decades of animal health experience. They are product gurus, nutrition specialists, industry experts and researchers, but most importantly, pet owners, pet parents and animal lovers. The Adored Beast team is made up of people who care about the health and wellbeing of your animal family. Their fundamental goal is to provide information, advice, and experienced support you can use, each and every day, to help your pet live the longest, healthiest, happiest life possible.

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