Is your cat bored?
We often think that cats are aloof, aloof, and less social than their dogs. But the truth is, cats have needs and want to feel fulfilled and entertained.
"Boredom and a lack of mental stimulation are very important because (to realize) they really affect a cat's psyche," says Dr. Jamie Richardson, Small Door Veterinary Chief Medical Officer. "When a cat is bored, it can lead to harmful behavior as it tries to find a way to entertain itself."
This is especially problematic for house cat parents, as kitty can entertain herself by peeing outside of the litter box or swinging off curtain rods. While this may be frustrating to humans, it is important to consider why the cat is doing it.
"When cats are outdoors, they can stimulate a lot and use their predatory drive," says Dr. Richardson. "We domesticate and let them be inside. We have to take advantage of that and repeat it as often as possible to give them the mental stimulation they really need."
Dr. Richardson shares signs your cat may be bored and solutions to make life more fun and fulfilling.
If Kitty is particularly vocal, she might tell you that she's bored.
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"Sometimes it's pain or a medical problem like dementia," says Dr. Richardson. "In other cases, it's attention-grabbing behavior. They want someone to entertain and interact with them."
If your cat is not spiritually enriched, it can become not only bored but also anxious and compulsive. This can lead to overcare.
"They will lick their fur excessively, especially on their inner thighs or stomach," says Dr. Richardson. "Sometimes cats do it so excessively that it irritates the skin."
Destructive to the house
If you've got a new baby, moved in with a partner, or are leaving the house and your cat starts peeing on your pillow, it's not out of defiance.
"If they're bored, it can lead to anxiety and they can urinate elsewhere," says Dr. Richardson. "A common place is on the owner's bed."
Other destructive behaviors include climbing and swinging from the curtains.
Overeating and sedentary behavior
Younger cats often try to keep themselves entertained by being active, but older cats are more likely to withdraw and eat too much, says Dr. Richardson. This becomes a vicious cycle with poor health outcomes.
"As soon as a cat becomes more sedentary, it wants to move less, become bumps on a log, and make it more difficult to get started," says Dr. Richardson. "An overweight cat won't want to play and do some of the things it can do to enjoy life."
As in humans, obesity in cats puts pressure on the joints and can cause heart disease and diabetes.
How can I keep my cat busy?
Boredom is reversible in stubborn kittens too. Dr. Richardson says the key is finding ways to stimulate them. Provide convenient locations for Kitty to climb and see the world.
"There are scratching posts for every living space," she says. "Windows can be great for cats to see the world and the birds."
Cat bars and hammocks are cozy places for a cat to sit and window shop.
Toys can also be an asset, but cats can be more picky than dogs.
"Every cat has different preferences," says Dr. Richardson.
Experiment with a variety of options such as feathers, motorized toys, magic wands, and catnip. Puzzle toys, Doc and Phoebe feeders, and laser pointers play with Kitty's hunting instinct.
"Make sure the laser pointer has an end point," says Dr. Richardson.
Guide the cat to food or toys. In this way, she thinks she was hunting something.
Finally, Dr. Richardson pet parents to consult the veterinarian if they notice any change in their cats' behavior. Sometimes these are signs of other health problems.
Featured image: an orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed. Photography © Aksenovko | Thinkstock.
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