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How can I tell if my cat is bored?

Ginger cat looking bored

Is your cat bored? Here are 7 signs to look out for.

© Wutlufaipy - Shutterstock

It is not always easy for an owner to know if their cat is bored. Unlike humans, the psychology of a feline can be difficult to interpret. Cat behaviourist Laetitia Barlerin, veterinarian and journalist, offers Wamiz her tips to recognise boredom and how to help your cat be entertained.

By Emilie Heyl

Published on the 25/09/2021, 18:00

Boredom, we’ve all been affected by it at least once. While it is not as obvious to notice, cats also get bored, just like humans. The majority of adult cats spend an average of 15 hours a day sleeping. So sometimes it is difficult to tell if your cat is bored or is going on with their usual routine.

So how do I know if my cat is bored? And how can you help him? We are passionate about animals and therefore we will give you tips on how to recognise the signs your cat is bored and how to help him.

Can my cat be bored? 

Many people may think that a cat cannot be bored. Think again ! Although they have a reputation for being independent and territorial, a feline can also have periods of boredom.

Cats need social interaction and activities. If a cat stays alone all day, if it can't go out because its owner is away, it ends up getting bored” explains Laetitia Barlerin.

Boredom will cause frustration which generates anxiety and ends in depression. Boredom in cats can very quickly become pathological.

Does boredom affect cats living alone more? 

It is true that animals that live with several people will suffer less from loneliness unless they prefer keeping at a distance with others. If there are two of them, at least there are interactions, games or communication.

What are the signs of boredom in cats? 

There are several factors that come into play when it comes to boredom in cats. First of all, cats are intelligent animals, and like any other intelligent animal, they need a certain level of stimulation to feel good. If they spend too much time without this level of stimulation, boredom will set in and cats start to feel nervous. 

Another reason is the lack of activity. Although many domestic cats live indoors and some of them grew up living outdoors, originally cats have an instinct to run, explore, and hunt. Staying indoors and not being able to appeal to those instincts (even if you keep them inside to protect them) can lead to feelings of boredom.

There are a few telltale signs that your cat is bored. Here are some signs to watch out for.

Your cat spends all its time sleeping

On average, a cat sleeps between 12 to 16 hours a day. Sometimes you have the impression that this time frame is much longer. If your cat is sleeping so much it may be all he has to do.

Your cat eats a lot more 

As with sleep, your pet may be eating excessively. An anxious cat may take refuge in food in an attempt to comfort itself. To avoid health problems, it is therefore preferable to regulate your feline’s meals.

Your cat will meow more often

A cat that tends to be bored will meow louder and longer than usual. He will thus seek to attract your attention. Besides these meows, your furry friend will come to you more often in a peaceful or even aggressive manner.

Your feline will often lick itself 

By licking itself, a cat will release endorphins responsible for a feeling of well-being. A fleeting sensation that your feline will reproduce frequently and which will result in licking wounds.

Your cat can become destructive 

You might think that boredom goes through lethargy and yet a bored cat can become destructive. It will destroy objects, climb on your curtains... In short, your cat will completely change its habits.

Your cat can become aggressive 

Boredom can also be responsible for a new aggression from your feline. He who is usually an adorable kitten will become a little tyrant overnight.

Your cat can attack you when you come back from your work day, for example. You will be considered as the activity of the day: "it's a bit like a syndrome in closed environments" specifies Laetitia Barlerin.

Your cat can get messy 

A bored cat can also become messy overnight: "he will do his business all over the place to feel reassured because he is in frustration".

But beware, this action is by no means revenge. The animal is then in a state of discomfort and the fact of marking its territory with urine will allow it to be reassured.

If you notice this happening, Laetitia Barlerin recommends consulting a veterinarian: “There may be an underlying problem. Often we only think this is bad behaviour but that could also be a disease. A cat that licks itself often can actually have chronic pain”.

What should I do when my cat is bored?

An owner can help their cat out of boredom. As Laetitia Barlerin explains, “you  have to enrich the cat's environment”. Here are a few tips to help your cat not feel bored anymore.

Devote play time to your cat

It may sound obvious, but like a child, an animal needs attention. Even if you have a busy schedule, take a few minutes of your day to play with your feline. Ideally, you should spend 30 minutes a day playing with your cat.

Fishing rod, small laser, toys with feathers… You and your cat are spoilt for choice. Do not forget to vary the way you play with your feline, make it entertaining and different by changing the game or the toys for example, so that your feline does not get used to it and eventually get bored.

Offer your cat areas to explore 

In addition to play time, you can also create new areas for your cat to explore. Do not hesitate to rearrange your interior, build wall shelves for cats to climb on, buy bigger cat trees, etc. "You can also place a chair near a window as an observation post so that your cat can observe the world”.

Don’t neglect small stimuli

Without disturbing your cat’s well-being, it is possible to enhance his daily life with the help of small stimuli.

Regarding food, you can put kibbles in different places around your home. Never forget that your feline is a hunter by nature. For Laetitia Barlerin, it is also a good idea to invest into a food distributor: “I also recommend fun food distributors. It can be labyrinth bowls, labyrinth towers with kibble which will fall and the cat will try to catch them with its paw… The cat will thus chase the kibble and it is a stimulating activity. If he wants to eat, he will have fun hunting”.

If you have a secure garden or balcony, open the doors for your cat to enjoy the sun. A good dose of vitamin D is ideal to boost your cat’s mood.

You can also opt for catnip which will stimulate your cat’s senses. And why not invest in an aquarium? It may seem surprising, but your cat will spend hours watching these cute fishes: "It's a bit like its own cinema".

As you can see, there are several factors that explain boredom in cats. With all this information, you can now recognise the signs of boredom in your cat. So it will be very easy for you to find a way to stimulate it and avoid boredom.