If your cat is lonely when you’re away, setting up some activities for cats home alone will make sure they are entertained. While most cats are happy to be left home alone and can entertain themselves for hours, if they don’t have enough to keep them occupied they can get bored, lonely, or even anxious.
If you’re going to be out or away for longer periods and are asking yourself how can you leave a cat alone, it’s important to make sure they have plenty of activities to stimulate them both physically and mentally. Read on for tips to entertain your moggy and keep them stimulated.
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Signs of boredom in cats
If your cat is not happy staying home alone, you may notice a change in their behavior:
- Overeating If they don’t have enough to keep them busy, your cat may start to overeat and gain weight, which is not good for their health. They need plenty of exercise if they’re indoors. While you need to leave food for them, make sure they also have lots of space and activities, such as a climbing tree.
- Loss of appetite Being left alone can also have the opposite effect. If you notice they aren’t eating their food, this could be a cause for concern.
- Loss of fur Your cat may begin over-grooming if they’re bored. Watch out for bare patches and hair loss.
- Change in sleeping habits Is your cat sleeping more or acting more lethargic? If they don’t have the energy to do anything, this could be a sign of boredom.
- Destructive behavior A bored cat may start to act out by scratching furniture, digging up your flower pots, or even urinating outside of their litterbox simply because they need more stimulation.
- Change in mood If your cat isn’t getting enough physical and mental stimulation, their mood may change. They may become depressed or even aggressive.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to visit the vet to make sure it is boredom and not something more serious.
Activities for cats home alone
Entertain your cat while you’re away and encourage independent play with these fun tips and ideas:
1. Chasing and hiding games
Cats love to play whether it’s fun games to play with you, such as chasing or hide-and-seek, or brain games, such as treasure hunts and puzzle feeders. If you want to know how to play with a cat, there are lots of ideas.
Create chasing and hiding games they can play by themselves by hanging CDs for them to chase the light reflections or leaving cardboard boxes, play tunnels, and blankets under tables for them to hide in.
2. Puzzle feeders
By making your cat use their hunting instincts and work for their food with puzzle feeders, you will be stimulating them both physically and mentally. Research the best puzzle feeders to keep your cat busy, or you could even make one.
A plastic bottle with holes cut into it that dispenses food when played with, an egg carton with treats in each section or a board with snacks hidden inside toilet paper rolls all make easy and cheap puzzle feeders.
3. Treasure hunts
Treasure hunts are like puzzle feeders on a larger scale. Hide your cat’s food in portions around the house so they have to hunt it out, giving them a physical and mental challenge.
To keep boredom at bay, your cat will need plenty of the best cat toys. However, you will need to mix it up each time you go out, whether that’s buying them the best automated cat toys that turn on with motion sensors, making your own toys (this can be as simple as hanging up a dangling bell on a string, scrunching up balls of paper, or leaving a cardboard box out), or making sure you’re engaging with your pet when you’re home with the best interactive cat toys.
If you give your cat lots of attention and interactive play when you’re home, they won’t need as much when you’re out and will be happy using this as relaxation time.
5. Scratching posts
Research the best scratching posts, not only to provide your cat with a great form of exercise but also to allow them to sharpen their claws, stretch their muscles, and mark their territory. If they don’t have somewhere to scratch, they will get bored and scratch your furniture instead.
6. Climbing time
Climbing is a natural behavior for cats, so you’ll want to make sure to look up the best cat trees and towers for your furry friend. Cat trees not only give them more indoor space, but it means your cat can explore vertically as well as horizontally. It’s great exercise and fun too!
If your cat is left indoors, especially in a small place, the same four walls can get tiresome. For added mental and visual stimulation, give them a room with a view. If you make sure they have a perch next to the window, they can enjoy viewing the birds in the garden, or just watching the world go by.
8. Relaxing in the sun
Perches or cat trees by the window will also allow your pet to bask in the warmth of the sun. If you have windows that they can’t escape from, open them a little so your furry friend can get some fresh air too.
9. Outdoor fun inside
Your cat needs lots of exercise, so if you’re leaving them indoors, try creating a cat playground or obstacle course. If you want to go one step further, a catio will allow your kitty the freedom to explore the outdoors in a safe environment while you’re out. Cats love green spaces, so if they can’t get outside, why not grow your own cat grass for them to munch on. It’ll keep them busy and they find it delicious.
10. Creating a routine
While having a routine isn’t an activity as such, cats enjoy having regular activities planned out so they don’t get bored. Most cats aren’t fans of change and like to know the plan.
11. Playing with a friend
While cats are often independent and may not need company, a more sociable cat may benefit from having a pet sitter or neighbor to play with them while you’re away, or even another cat in the house.
12. Cat TV and music
Leaving the TV on will not only provide your cat with background noise but also mental stimulation. YouTube has a number of shows designed specifically for cats, featuring moving birds, insects, or mice.
Music may also soothe your pet while you’re away. Research has shown that cats like classical music in particular, but again there is music made especially for them.
Zara is Editor on bookazines and covers a range of topics from cookery to travel and animals. Her latest first edition, What Your Dog Wants You To Know, is the ultimate guide to understanding your dog’s body language.
Former editor of World of Animals magazine, she has over 8 years of experience in publishing inspiring children and adults about the wonders of the animal kingdom as well as teaching them about their pets. She also has over 5 years experience working with vets, wildlife experts and animal behaviourists in her comms roles for various animal charities.
A keen animal lover, Zara can often be found researching her next wildlife destination to travel to. Having just moved into a bigger house she is currently looking at which dog and cats breed would suit her new family so she can fill her house with pets.
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