Do cats actually get bored or feel lonely when you are not at home? Plus 8 great tips to keep your four-pawed friend entertained !
Cats are very independent pets compared to other pets such as dogs and rabbits, making them possible to stay put for long hours away from human companionship. Although we generally see them sleeping all day and often show no interest when we try to pet them, cats are also getting bored when they are left alone day after day.
Because the work from home policy came out due to the coronavirus pandemic, we had more time to spend with our feline friends than we did earlier, but since the schools and offices are reopening now, the spend time together will drastically drop. This change of companionship may easily lead your cat to suffer from loneliness and boredom, especially when it comes to indoor cats.
Keeping your cat indoors definitely increase their life expectancy since it reduces the chances of getting into fights with neighboring cats and dogs, catching contagious parasitic infections, and road traffic accidents. Although we keep our fellow indoors for their wellbeing, these cats are prone to get bored quite easily, so we have to invest our time and effort to keep them entertained.
Cats are natural hunters. They have their instincts in hunting, so the most common reason for boredom in cats is having a lack of mental and physically stimulating activities. So along with regular meals and comfortable bedding, you also have to think of ways to make your home a cat-friendly place that will keep them entertained throughout the day.
How do I know when my pet is suffering from boredom and depression?
Cats usually sleep for very long hours, which may make it even more difficult to keep up with the cat’s mental health along with your busy life. But if you pay a little more attention, you would be able to identify some changes in their behavior.
These are some of the signs you will observe in bored or depressed cats:
- Changes in vocalization:
Your furry friend may alter their meow frequency. It may become less or more meow than usual. You can identify the unhappy noises of your unhappy feline buddy. Usually, their noises become low-pitched, veilings when your friend is in depressed, grieving status. You obviously may think that purrs are indicating that your little buddy is in a happy mood. Guess what? That may not always be the truth because purring might be a sign of an unhappy kitty who tries to comfort itself from its depressed lifestyle.
- Body language:
When your feline friend snuggles in a distressed, unhappy mood, It shows body postures that you mostly do not see from your pet otherwise. When your cat shows poses such as ears held back, hair standing on the end, tail tucked, and many other strange body postures, that signals to you that your cat needs to be salvaged from his pathetic lifestyle.
- Aggressive or fearfulness:
Like us humans, cats might also act abnormally aggressive or abnormally scared when they are sad or depressed. Therefore if you catch your feline friend trying to be the mister quarreler, your cat may be depressed.
They might also become clingy and demanding.
- Excessive sleeping:
Cats like to sleep a lot. But when they are sad, what would they do? They tend to sleep even more, also switching the sleeping location away from the usual place.
- Poor grooming :
Cats are famous from grooming themselves to keep their fur coat clean and healthy. But if your feline buddy is unhappy and stressed, it often stops its daily habit of grooming itself. That condition leads to an unclean, untidy fur coat.
- Changes in appetite:
Like ourselves, cats are also not in the mood for food when they are unhappy or sick, even if it is their favourite treat. So if your fluffy buddy is on a food strike or a sudden change of appetite, it is a warning sign you don't want to ignore.
- Changes in bathroom habits:
When your feline friend is under depression, they might try to comfort themselves with their scent. For that, they pass urine in inappropriate places. Depression and sadness can also be a main reason for urinating outside the litter box.
- Excessive scratching:
If your furry friend is scratching objects more than usual, it is a typical stress relieving method.
How to keep my kitty away from boredom when I am not around?
They only have you and the world you create for them.
We should make an effort to provide the cat as much experience of the outside environment as possible.
This includes both visual and physical stimulation. Providing window beds is one of the best solutions for visual stimulation while playing with toys is good physical stimulation. Here are some tips you can use to avoid cat boredom.
- Window perches and viewing areas
Choose a window that allows a good view of the neighboring houses and place a comfortable bed over there. This will surely make a stimulating environment for your furry feline. There are cat trees available in different heights and with different features. A cat tree can also be placed near a window so your pet can spend plenty of time keeping up with outside. You can keep water and food for squirrels and birds close to the window. You will see your feline friend observing the outsiders out of curiosity.
If you have a garden and cat proofing is not possible, it is also a fabulous idea to build a catio for your cat, so there is opportunity to explore birds and nature in a safe and more interesting way.
- Keep a scratching post
Scratching is not only to remove the dead layers of tissue from their nails but also to mark the territory. The glands in the cat's paws produce a secretion that results in a certain smell that helps the cats to mark their territory. A scratching post helps to reduce anxiety in cats as well. Investing on a good scratching post that is tall enough to provide a good stretch for your cat will help you to save your valuable furniture from cat paws. Luckily, you can have it all in one, as our cat trees come with built-in scratching posts, for the purrfect catisfaction :)
- Create places where your cat feels safe to spend time
Cats like to spend time in places where they can have a full view of the room yet stay away from the center of attention. Try to clean a cupboard or wardrobe top and apply a comfortable mat for your feline friend to spy on moving objects in the room happily.
- Introducing a cat buddy
If you can adopt one more cat for your family, you can also consider this idea, but be prepared that both you and your cat will need plenty of time and patience to get used to a new buddy.
- Grow some cat grass
Cat grass is not the regular grass we see in our gardens. This is a special kind of grass that cats find tasty. You can grow cat grass at home by yourself from seeds. Even though cats are carnivores, they enjoy nibbling on cat grass just as outdoor cats do on grass. Cat grass will surely keep your cats occupied for some time every day.
- Hide treats around the house
Cats are very sensitive to smell, and they use this instinct for hunting. You can hide some treats in cardboard boxes placed around the house, and your feline friend will find it interesting to explore and find her prey. This is a perfect mental stimulation for your cat.
- Offer a sunny spot
Walk around the house, find a window that allows plenty of sunshine, and place a cat bed or a comfortable cushion close to that window. Cats love to rest under the sun, so this will be one of their favorite spots around the house. If you have a cat proofed balcony or blinds, you can keep the window open for some time to let your cat enjoy some fresh air.Have plenty of safe toys for your cat
- Plenty of toys
There are toys that allow you to interact with your pet when you are back from work, and you can play together, such as teaser wands, or the super funny whack-a-mole style game.
Cats might get bored of toys after some time, so make sure to rotate them from time to time.
To keep things interesting, occasionally you can apply some catnip to the toys. It is also a great idea to rub the toys with catnip for the first time, so your kitty will fall in love with the new toys straight away, for sure :)