While some domestic cats seem as though they’d be perfectly content snoozing all day and receiving the occasional head rub, it’s important for pet parents to interact with their feline companions on a daily basis. Beyond quality time, studies have shown that physical and mental stimulation not only fights boredom, but helps keep cats happy and content. Some days you might be wondering why is my cat so hyper and some days you might be asking how to entertain a bored cat.
Whether he’s a kitten exploring the world around him for the first time or a senior cat soaking in the sun, research indicates that dedicated activities are important to a feline’s overall well-being. Read on for useful tips on how to entertain a cat, including enriching activities that will stimulate both his body and his mind.
Keeping Your Cat Engaged: Helpful Tips To Prevent Feline Boredom
Consider A Game Of Chase: Believe it or not, even older cats enjoy a good game of play-chasing. Even though it’s such a simple form of playtime, cats of all ages usually love this sort of interaction with their humans – and it’s a great (and free) way to get everyone off the couch! Typically, a cat will indicate he wants to play a game of chase by standing across the room and looking back as he takes a few steps away. Pet parents can usually tell by a cat’s physical cues – such as his tail standing straight up – if he’s having a good time. A tail held down may indicate he’s running away in fear or feeling anxious. Other indications to know if he’s still having fun (or if he’s had enough) include sounds, so be sure to pay close attention to a kitty’s body language and vocalizations.
Play Fetch With Your Feline: “Go fetch!” isn’t just for dogs – in fact, some cats enjoy a spirited game of fetch as much as their canine counterparts. Being that they’re predators, it actually seems like a perfectly natural game for curious kittens. Be sure to choose a toy that can be thrown across the room indoors – e.g., a fuzzy stuffed catnip mouse – and, of course, something that’s small enough that he can carry it back in his mouth. Once he’s run to fetch the toy, encourage him to retrieve it and bring it back to you, as this behavior may not come as naturally to cats as it does to dogs. Rewarding him with lots of affection, praise, and a tasty treat or two will reinforce this activity as a positive experience, which provides great exercise and enjoyment for cats young and old.
Make Small Talk: According to feline experts, making a little chit-chat with one’s cat has been proven to be beneficial, deepening existing bonds and helping the animal to relax. This can be especially valuable for cats who don’t like being handled, as it builds trust between the pet and his owner. Experts recommend getting down to their level, speaking softly and in a high-pitched tone, and repeating his name frequently. Also, be sure to blink slowly and not stare at him, as he may perceive that as threatening behavior. For homes with multiple cats, be sure each kitty gets at least a few minutes of one-on-one time each day to ‘talk’ and bond with family members.
Mix Up His Toys Often: Known for their natural finicky behavior, variety is truly the spice of life in the world of a cat. Therefore, mixing up his selection of toys is essential to stave off boredom. Even though there are tons of cat toys on the market – such as puzzles, interactive toys, feather wands, and so on – remember, many kitties are just as easily amused by a ball of yarn or a wadded up piece of paper. A good rule of thumb: rotate his toys – in other words, play with a few for a while, then put them away and bring out a few different ones – in order to keep things interesting. In addition, put his toys away when playtime is over: if he’s got constant access to his entire collection of toys, he will likely get bored much sooner. For his safety, be sure to dispose of crumpled up paper or any non-toy item after playtime to prevent accidents (such as a choking hazard) for pets or small children.
Technology To The Rescue: Although it might not provide the most physically stimulating activity, there are days where pet parents may be simply too tired (or busy) to provide physical entertainment for their fur babies. Luckily, there are apps specifically designed for cats that can be accessed on a tablet or a cell phone. Set up a cat in his favorite corner of the couch, and let the movement of different creatures – including fish tank scenarios, mice games, and insects activities – keep him amused for a while. Even though they’re no substitute for actively engaging with pets, these cat apps (when used sparingly) can be a helpful form of recreation for bored house kitties.
Create A Cat-Cave: Similar to young children, cats also love cavernous, make-believe areas – think towels draped over two chairs to create a ‘tent’, a blanket over a large cardboard box, or something similar to create a temporary hiding spot. As natural predators, cats love to stalk, pounce, and jump out at ‘prey’ – which may or may not include another household pet, a favorite toy, or your unfortunate bare foot. No matter what the scenario, most cats will readily enjoy this easy form of entertainment, especially if pet parents interact – for example, enticing him with a favorite toy just outside of his ‘cat cave’. This is definitely a great activity for a rainy day at home with the fur babies!
Put On A Light Show: For anyone who’s ever witnessed it, watching a cat mesmerized by light reflections on the wall is both adorable and hilarious. Another low-budget but high-impact activity, finding different household objects – such as a CD, hand mirror, watch or other reflective surface – and letting the natural sunlight or indoor light bounce off of it to create reflections on the wall, ceiling, etc. can provide endless amusement for lackadaisical felines. Experts discourage laser pointers, however, as they can lead to damaged vision in cats. In addition, light play shouldn’t be the only form of playtime with cats, since it can be highly frustrating for them to ‘chase’ reflections (but never have the opportunity to catch anything). Instead, follow up with another game that includes a toy or item they can catch.
Enriching His Environment: How To Provide A Stimulating Space For Cats
From small apartments to big homes in the suburbs, cats everywhere require quality stimuli to keep them from getting bored. Boredom is not only damaging to a cat’s overall well-being, but can also result in destructive activities – such as scratching and clawing at furniture, marking the walls, getting into mischief, and other undesirable feline behavior. This is especially important to keep in mind for domestic cats that are strictly indoor pets, as well as cats who spend a lot of time at home by themselves.
In the instance that a cat seems particularly anxious or destructive, it’s always best to consult with his veterinarian in the event that there’s an underlying health issue. Cat owners may also wish to speak with their vet about the benefits of CBD supplements for cats, as it has been shown to not only help ease anxiety in cats, but offer many other feline health benefits.
Below, a few suggestions to keep cats engaged, stimulated, and content:
- Interactive toys & puzzles: Beyond the basic fuzzy toys and bouncy balls, interactive cat toys provide a bit more of a challenge. In addition to engaging their inquisitive minds, they provide a great distraction for cats when their pet parents aren’t home to play with them. A puzzle toy can also keep them curious and young.
- A quality scratching post: In addition to satisfying their love of scratching, a scratching post also provides a great opportunity for feline exercise.
- A cat condo: Taking the basic scratching post to the next level, cat condos typically offer a space for napping, climbing, perching, some type of toy, and of course, a scratchable surface that’s sure to entice him.
- Consider a catio: Much like the name suggests, these cleverly-engineered cat ‘patios’ allow your indoor cat safe access to the outdoors without actually going outside. Custom designed enclosures designed specifically for cats, catios can be fitted for windows as well as balconies.
- Create the purr-fect hammock: For anyone who’s ever owned a cat, it’s no secret that they love to sit in the window and watch the world go by. Setting up a cat hammock in his favorite window will allow him to sunbathe in style, offering him his own little cozy spot to chill out.
Keeping your feline friend active can also promote healthy habits. This can include an interactive toy, taking them outside for a game of fetch, or even setting a play date with a furry friend. An entertained and happy cat means a happy cat owner right?
Even though there are many ways to provide interesting stimulation and activities that cats can do by themselves, there is no substitute for quality time spent between cat parents and their feline friends. From tiny kittens to senior cats, be sure to set aside time each day to bond with your furry companion. Whether it’s talking with him, playing a spirited game of chase around the house, or simply curling up with him on the couch, these moments spent together mean the world to your cat.
1) “How to Keep Indoor Cats Entertained and Stimulated.” Prime Pet Insurance (primepetinsurance.com.au), August 9, 2016, https://www.primepetinsurance.com.au/blog/cat-care/how-to-keep-indoor-cats-entertained-and-stimulated. Accessed October 14, 2021.
2) Gibbs, Ashleigh. “How to entertain indoor cats and keep them stimulated.” Pets Radar (petsradar.com), May 5, 2021, https://www.petsradar.com/advice/how-to-entertain-indoor-cats-and-keep-them-stimulated. Accessed October 14, 2021.
3) Xavier, Elise. “Bored Kitty? Hands-Off Ways To Keep An Indoor Cat Entertained.” Kittyclysm (kittyclysm.com), November 20, 2020, https://kittyclysm.com/bored-cat-entertainment/. Accessed October 14, 2021.