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Help! My Cat is Bored

Last Updated on August 8, 2021 by Holly Anne Dustin

Cats can and do get bored. When we choose to keep our cats safer indoors we assume the responsibility to make sure our indoor furbabies aren’t bored and under stimulated. Luckily there are many simple things we can do to allow our cats to exercise their inner tigers; keeping their minds and bodies healthy and happy (and our drapes safe.) Read on for tips on how to entertain your bored cat.

8 Ways Cats Express Their Boredom

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They say an idle mind is the devil’s playground. Cats who get bored may be good examples of that. A bored cat will make their own “fun” which may range from climbing the drapes to fighting with the dog to peeing outside the box.

    • Destructive behavior: The most obvious example of destructive behavior in bored cats is scratching the furniture or door frames. But climbing drapes, exploring places they shouldn’t (like the trash bin), and tearing up the toilet paper rolls all fit the bill too.
    • Attention seeking behavior: All that annoying behavior that makes you want to tear your hair out.  Excessive meowing, plunking down on your keyboard or whatever else you’re doing, knocking stuff over, walking around and between your legs, jumping up to be at your level, pawing at you.
    • Overgrooming: Boredom can cause your kitty to over groom or pull his fur out, sometimes leaving bald spots. It can become a compulsive behavior.
    • Bullying: Bored cats can get their kicks out of causing drama. Bully cats chase other cats around, pounce on your feet from under the bed, and corner the dog. Bullying can be more subtle. One of my cats will fix a stare at my high-maintenance guy until he flips out and then the chase and fight ensues. Resource guarding can also be a bullying tactic.
    • Lethargy: Sure, cats do sleep a lot, but this takes it to the next level. A bored cat will lack interest in their normal activities, including eating. I notice this in my adventure cats in the winter when it is way too cold to go out exploring. My show cat gets depressed when we don’t travel. Bored, depressed cats may not groom adequately and let their coats get matted and greasy.
    • Overeating: Just like us, cats can overeat from boredom. After all if there’s nothing else to do we can at least get a snack. Overindulgence can cause Kitty digestive upset, and will definitely cause obesity.  (link obesity post)
    • Inappropriate elimination: peeing and pooping outside the box is one of the strongest ways your kitty tells you he is not happy. If your furbaby is medically cleared, and his litterbox set up is ideal, then look at boredom as another factor in why he is housesoiling.
    • Mental health issues: Developing separation anxiety and depression when you leave the house. Cats have a reputation as independent and indifferent to their people, but a study out of Oregon State has shown that cats actually prefer human interaction to food or toys alone. If your furbaby is dependent on you for all their entertainment, they are prone to boredom, behavior problems, and mental health issues when you aren’t there.
      woman entertaining her siamese bored cat with a feather toy
      • How to Relieve Your Cat’s Boredom

        What do you do when you are bored? Find something to do, go somewhere, learn a new skill, phone a friend? Think about how Kitty can do a cat version of those things. Give her a chance to engage her 5 senses and exercise her natural inner hunter instincts.

        Enrich Kitty’s Environment to Prevent Boredom:

        Enriching your bored cat’s environment will keep her busy and prevent behavior problems.  Give Kitty places to get up high. Tall cat towers, shelves on the walls, pathways on bookcases and furniture, steps to tops of the cabinets. Bonus points if he can see out the windows.

      • Box forts and bags to hide in, tunnels to play in, and cave style beds all add safe zones and comfort for a bored cat. Give her cat grass and other cat-safe plants. Add seasonal scents, fresh grass clippings, fallen leaves, safe flowers, or scratcher house with a brown tabby cat in it
      • Sisal rope posts and cardboard scratchers will help Kitty work out his extra energy. Provide a variety of scratching surfaces and both horizontal and vertical scratching posts.
      • Beat the Boredom Blues with Interactive Play:

        Interactive play is an important component of any boredom busting program.

        Interactive play involves you and a lure toy to create prey-like action. You can inspire Kitty to exercise her inner tiger. Move your lure around so the target wiggles, slides, and creeps around the room.

        There are toys that simulate the interactive play. Electronic toys and toys you attach to the wall or furniture. Some of them turn on randomly or respond to your cat’s movement.

        Kitty will probably enjoy these toys but they are no substitute for your active involvement in prey-style play with your furbaby.

        Choose Great Toys for Bored Cats:

        Select some cat toys that your kitty will enjoy. Rotate and spread the toys around to keep Kitty’s interest. The toys will seem new and intriguing when she sees them again.

        Hide a toy in her box fort or slip them inside a crumpled paper bag for her to hunt them out. The tail of a mouse toy hanging down from the top of her cat tree will inspire her stalking instinct. A basket or toy box full of toys won’t peak Kitty’s interest the same way.

        Entertain Your Cat with Some Screen Time:

        Videos created especially for cats featuring birds, small animals, and fish can help keep Kitty entertained. There are apps for tablets and smartphones that some cats really enjoy.

        Bird feeders and fish tanks (even a fake fish tank with mechanical fish) can open a window on the world for your bored cat.

        Design a wildlife friendly garden. Put in a bird feeder or squirrel feeder where Kitty can watch it.  Leave a porch light on to give him the excitement of watching moths and insects fluttering about the light.

        Classical music, or specially designed music for cats, is soothing to a crabby, frustrated cat.

        Make Your Bored Cat Hunt for Her Food:

        In the wild, cats spend a large portion of their time hunting for their dinner. They don’t have time to get bored. We can imitate that experience if we ditch the food bowl and turn mealtime into fun food by making use of food puzzles and interactive feeders.

        red tabby cat playing with a trixie activity center interactive toy

        Play Games:

        Many people don’t think about playing games with cats. But your cat can join you in a rousing game of hall hockey or soccer with a bottle cap or her favorite toy. With a little bit of effort, you can teach Kitty to fetch.

        You can play hide and seek. Get Kitty playing, then go hide and see if she comes to find you. You can train her to play the game by adding in some food lures. Keep a packet of treats on you. Hide, and when she finds you give her a treat.

        Setting up a treasure hunt for Kitty can be a fun game. Hide her favorite toys and treats around the house. Scent mark a sock or rag with vanilla, herbals, lunch meat, cheese, or peanut butter and place them out for Kitty to exercise her sensitive nose to find it.

      • Related Post: Preventing Boredom with a Sensory Enrichment Plan
      • Offer Supervised Outdoor Activities:

        Controlled access to the outdoors is one of the easiest ways to expand your kitty’s universe and reduce the chance he’ll get bored.

        The simple scent of fresh air is something some indoor cats don’t ever experience in our air conditioned and filtered environments. Throw open the windows, changing up their environments with seasonal scents.

        Bringing in the scents and sounds of outside. Bring in logs for scratching.  Dishes of rocks.  Add seasonal scents, fresh grass clippings, fallen leaves, feathers, even a bit of snow for the cats to play with. bring nature to your kitty.

        Building or buying a catio enclosure is another option for giving your bored cat controlled access to the outdoors. If you have the space for an extensive catio space, the cats of ChirpyCats have an enclosed outdoor space that is the envy of cats everywhere.

        Training your cat to walk on a harness and leash gives you a chance to take Kitty along with you on adventures in the community. Some cats really enjoy hiking, biking and even boating.

        Clicker Training:

        Clicker training tricks gives Kitty a way to use his brain and mental energy. Teaching Kitty new skills improves her physical and mental health by keeping her mind and body active.

        Trick training is a great enrichment activity for a cat who doesn’t have the temperament to enjoy life as an adventure cat.

        A Bored Cat Might Like a Friend:

        Consider getting a second cat if you have a bored only cat.

        Cats can form strong social relationships with other cats. Not every two cats will mesh together, but cats with similar personalities and energy levels could become best friends. Adopting littermates, or at least adopting two at the same time, usually works out very well. Having a friend to play with can keep cats from getting bored.


        Bored kitties, living in a boring environment, can become destructive, lethargic, or even ill. Making their environment more interesting and sharing daily playtime will keep your kitties happy and healthy.

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11 thoughts on “Help! My Cat is Bored”

  1. My mom’s cats get bored often, even though there are two of them. She just got them a Trixie toy; it seems to be a big hit. We had a Trixie puzzle for Cookie when she was rehabbing from an injury–these are well thought out toys as far as I can tell.

  2. We don’t have any cats in our home right now, but this definitely holds true for our dogs! They are very high energy and need plenty of play time, exercise, and mental stimulation so their behaviors don’t turn destructive.

  3. These are great ideas to help relieve cat boredom. Most of the cats that I know love to play! My sister has a nightly routine of playing with her cat before bed. She says it makes a huge difference and lets her get a good night’s sleep! My mom’s foster cat loved to play fetch, it was really cute. Unlike my dog, the cat would drop the toy for my mom to throw again.

  4. I am grateful I don’t have indoor cats and the engagement issue is not one I need to deal with too much but there are times when it rains and RAINS and THEN I need to come and check your post out!!

  5. Keeping cats busy can be quite a task! My kitties demand a lot of attention. We’ve experienced the kind of destruction that can happen when they get too bored. My cats really love having a balcony that they can go out on and watch the birds on the lake. They also never get tired of fishing pole toys and the red dot.

  6. How adorable, I’m mostly a dog person and so I never really thought about the cat being bored. But looking at the pictures and reading your article, it’s clear that they get bored just like dogs do. I love the games and that seems to work best with their little minds when you put food into it. Great article and will share with my cat friends!

  7. Good advice. I think sometimes my cats pick on each other out of boredom. One, however, screams bloody murder to get outside (the second I wake up). She’ll sit for hours in the backyard staring but is bored sitting for hours inside.

  8. Love all these ideas on how to recognize and beat boredom in cats. I think dogs can get bored too and enrichment and mental and physical stimulation are so important to avoid unwanted issues or behaviours.

  9. Great post and I think Layla is bored but she is not interested in her toys either and am at a loss here with her so am trying to do some park time, even if weather is cold to get her stimulated more.

  10. Growing up whenever our cat got bored she would tease the dog until he would get annoyed. Then he would chase her around the house. It only lasted for a few minutes before they would both get tired. Then they would cuddle up together and rest.

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