Why does your adorable kitten insist on scratching or chewing your precious belongings? Is your cat bored or just a menace? Find out why your cat is so restless and how you can put a stop to destructive behaviour.
Do cats get bored? Cats are born explorers, but their inquisitive nature can put them in situations that might be harmful to them and frustrating for you. If they aren’t given regular attention and a stimulating environment, will likely look for other ways to satisfy this craving.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Bored
When cats are understimulated they may look for trouble just as a way to entertain themselves, and you may not like how they do it. Without proper activity, your cat can get frustrated, anxious, aggressive, or just a little stir-crazy.
As a result, cat boredom can lead to destructive behaviours. Here are a few signs your cat is bored:
- Scratching or chewing furniture
- Marking and other litter issues
- Biting and clawing you or other pets
- Talking, crying, or being nosy to get attention
If you have a bored cat that is damaging your home, interfering with your day-to-day activities, and disrupting your sleep schedule, these tips will help you understand your furry friend better and make things easier at home for both of you.
Is your Cat Bored?
If your cat is exhibiting some odd or destructive behaviour, you might want to ask yourself - Is my cat bored?
Boredom is a very common reason that your cat may be acting out or finding mischief around every corner. Cats are typically very independent, which is why many cat owners underestimate how much attention and activity cats actually need.
In reality, cats need exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom, which in turn reduces destructive behaviour and restlessness.
Between 30-60 minutes of activity is recommended each day, though some cats may need more or less depending on age and health conditions. Without sufficient activity, your cat can become anxious, aggressive, or just a bit of a jerk.
You need to know to stop bad behaviour in cats to help bring back some peace and order in your house and help your cat feel safe, calm, and comfortable.
Other Reasons for Destructive Cat Behaviour
Boredom is the most common cause of bad kitty behaviours, but destructive cat behaviours can also be a result of changes to the environment and new additions to your home. Here are a few situations that might make your cat feel uneasy:
- Moving or travel
- Sudden schedule changes
- A new pet or family member
- The loss of a friend or family member
- New furniture or other renovations
Helping your cat adjust to these kinds of changes takes time and patience, but our tips for curbing cat boredom will be helpful during this adjustment period. Calming solutions, like Feliway, can also be helpful but won't replace a consistent routine of play, activity, and relaxation.
Any major changes to your cat's routine or environment can be scary for kitty. Steps need to be taken before, during and after major lifestyle or environment changes whenever it's possible to ease the transition.
Rule Out Illness or Injury
If your cat’s behaviour changes suddenly, then it’s best to schedule a vet visit to rule out illness or injury and discuss other potential causes, like cat fleas or other pest infestations. Look for these signs of pests:
- Scratching/biting themselves
- Constant grooming
- Aggressive behaviour
- General restlessness
If you find evidence of unwanted visitors, don’t panic! You can ditch fleas by using a home flea and tick remedy, like the Bayer Advantage II. If the infestation persists, contact your vet.
Now that you understand why your cat is acting out let’s take a look at some tips for helping reduce these behaviours.
6 Tips for Preventing Cat Boredom and Destructive Behaviour
My cat is bored. Now what? Cats can be a little more complicated and aloof than dogs, which is why many of their quirks and idiosyncrasies can be difficult for us to understand and identify.
When we see bad cat behaviours developing, it can be hard to narrow down the direct cause and the best bored cat solution.
When it comes to cat boredom, while each cat may respond differently, there are some simple tips to consider that can help you find the best method for training out those bad behaviours and giving your cat something fun, challenging, and safe to do.
Here are 6 tips to help you understand why your cat is bored and how to fix that:
1. Accept Their Nocturnal Tendencies
If you find your cat more active during the middle of the night or dawn, don’t worry, that’s normal. You have to accept that they are night-time predators and will mostly show their “hunting”-like behaviours at dusk and dawn.
Your sweet kitten doesn’t understand that their instincts are annoying to humans simply because their sleep cycles differ.
Tips to reduce the night-time zoomies
You never want to discourage physical activity and healthy play behaviours, but you can help guide your cat towards expressing their high-energy habits at more appropriate times of the day. Here's how:
- Get used to them batting or pouncing on things during the day. You shouldn’t try to completely alter their natural cycles, but you can provide stimulating activities that will prevent their twilight activities from interfering with your sleep.
- Provide stimulating toys that your cat can “hunt” at night. His predatory instincts are normal, so make sure he has safe and fun toys to satisfy those instincts. Avoid cat toys that make noise to reduce the chances of your cat's hunting waking you up.
- Don’t let your cat in your room at night. This option isn’t for everyone because some of us can’t handle life without kitty snuggles, but for cats that are extremely disruptive at night, this might be the only option that will provide you with a good night’s sleep.
- Encourage lots of playtime in the evening before bedtime. Tuckering out your kitty before bedtime can help to reduce over-excitement and destructive “hunting” while you sleep.
Other than that, simply being patient and redirecting them to more appropriate behaviours constantly and with kindness will help more, in the long run, to build stronger bonds between the two of you.
2. How You Feed Them Can Make A Huge Difference
Some cats are food-obsessed, while others are relatively indifferent. No matter their eating preferences, using food strategically can help to build a consistent routine and reduce anxiety and boredom.
Having scheduled mealtimes can help you plan for times of excess energy and will help your cat adjust to a schedule that better matches up with yours. This will also help to maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass.
However, if you feel your pet is still meowing for more food, you may want to look into slow feeders and treat dispensing toys to ration her food and make her work for it.
Puzzle and Treat Dispensing Cat Toys
Using food to encourage activity can help prevent boredom too. Keeping their hunting traits in mind, consider offering your cat puzzle and treat dispensing toys, which allow them to forage for their favourite foods and treats.
This is a good way to prevent mischief that your bored cat can get up to. Making meal times fun can also encourage your cat to adjust to a stricter feeding routine.
Kibble is an excellent option for this and is another great way to stimulate your cat when you aren’t home and when you’re busy or even sleeping.
Here are a few of our favourite puzzle toys for cats:
3. Your Cat Needs One-On-One Time with You
Many destructive behaviours are your cat’s way of trying to get your attention. Spending quality time with your cat can reduce boredom behaviours and strengthen your bond with your furry feline.
Solo playtime is great, but playing with your cat can stimulate them in different ways. Try to schedule one-on-one playtime with your cat every day. This could be as simple as a game of fetch, pulling out your cat’s favourite teaser or wand toy, or just a comfortable cuddle session.
4. Different Toys for Different Play
Cat toys are an important part of your cat’s environment. If they have their own toys, they will be less inclined to try to play with your belongings.
If you are saying - my cat is bored but won't play! - then you just haven't found the right cat toy, the right cat game, or the right incentive. Replacing destructive habits with toys will be hard at first because you might have to go through several toys and games before finding "the one."
Do not let that discourage you; Start from the basics by giving your cat fetch toys, catnip-infused toys, and interactive cat toys. Make sure it is lightweight and mobile for their comfort.
Instead of giving all of these fun cat toys all at once, make a habit of rotating your cat's toys now and then so that they don’t end up getting desensitized to the excitement of playtime.
Be careful about the size of the toy parts – some of them might be small or have brittle parts, which may cause your furry friend to swallow them or injure themselves if they are left unsupervised.
Best Cat Toys for Bored Cats
Be Careful With Laser Toys
Though lasers are often an entertaining toy for you, the benefits of this toy may not outweigh the risks. Laser cat toys are excellent for group play and encourage high aerobic activity, but it’s important to know the drawbacks too.
Lasers are uncatchable prey. This means that your cat will never feel satisfied after a session. This can lead to further anxiety and behavioural issues in cats.
This high-energy activity can lead to over-exertion or injury. Cats can get too involved in the hunt and risk hurting themselves, especially when playing in areas with lots of furniture or stairs.
Laser toys can be played with safely, so make sure you know what you are doing before your release the red dot. Check out Are Laser Pointers Bad for Cats to find out more.
Cats Chew Too
Cats are not always known for their chewing habits like dogs are, but those that are inclined to chew may benefit from a natural chew. This is both mentally engaging and delicious, plus it can help improve your dog and cat’s dental health.
Learn more about the benefits of natural chews in Dental Chews for Cats.
5. Invest in A Scratching Post
Cats love satisfying sessions of scratching various surfaces. It could be anything from shredded wallpapers to fuzzy carpets. If your furniture and clothes are the targets of your bored cat’s pent-up energy, invest in a scratcher or scratching post and train them to use that.
In addition to curbing bad scratching habits, offering your cat appropriate scratchers can provide health benefits for their muscles and nails, so you are taking care of two things at once.
DIY Scratching Posts
If you are feeling handy, you can even make your own DIY cat scratcher. Check out this handy video for tips on crafting your own cat tree.
6. Window-Time Is Mentally Enriching
Cats love to admire nature. You can fulfill this by placing a cat bed next to a window, or try out the Sunny Seat Cat Window Bed to give your cat a front-row seat to your neighbourhood.
To make the view interesting, you can place feeders where birds or squirrels might arrive so your bored cat can interact with local wildlife safely.
You can also try other alternatives, such as playing animal videos on loop on your computer or TV screen, which will keep them captivated. Just make sure to keep a close eye just in case they get brave enough to pounce at the screen.
For cats that get to spend time safely outdoors, invest in an ID tag and microchip just in case she gets lost and needs help finding her way back home.
Happy Kitties are Well-Behaved
There is no easy button for destructive behaviour caused by boredom, but these tips are a surefire way to start you on the path to success.
A safe, fun, and consistent routine will help reduce boredom and the desire to be naughty, but some cats will need further training. Cats who have become accustomed to these bad habits will need to unlearn these behaviours.
Redirect your cat to good behaviours as soon as you catch them doing something naughty. Then make sure to praise and reward for participating in safe and approved kitty activities.
We hope that with these tips, your feline friend will overcome their boredom and build healthier and safer habits. Just like your other family members, they too require patience and perseverance to get accustomed to your family habits.
Got any tips for entertaining your bored cat? Share your success stories and struggles with us in the comments below!