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Is your cat bored? 10 tips to keep your feline friend occupied

cat bored
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For many cat owners, keeping your cat indoors is the safest thing to do - but this decision to keep them safely inside might be making your cat bored. 

Cats crave stimulation, and oftentimes indoor cats just aren't getting enough of it. Since they can't go outside and explore or chase down neighborhood critters, the only things they have to keep them occupied are within your home - and if there's not enough enrichment options for them, you get a bored cat.

A 2017 study by the University of Copenhagen found that indoor cats were likely to suffer from behavioral problems, often linked to confinement. Buying some of the best cat toys might help, or considering some of the best toys for indoor cats.

But that's not your only options for helping a bored cat. The good news is that there are definitely things you can do to prevent kitty fatigue from setting in. Here are ten ways to help a bored cat.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Toys

While toys may be an obvious way to deter cat boredom, it's an essential one - and sometimes finding the right toy for your cat can be a bit tricky. Cats will get bored of toys, as well, so make sure to have some variety in the toy box - after all, variety is the catnip of life. 

There are teaser toys, which are usually just plastic sticks with some kind of fun thing attached to the end, whether it's string or a feather (or both). Those are the kind of toys that will require human involvement as well, as a cat won't play with a dormant string. Using a teaser to simulate prey is a great way to play with your cat - but don't leave string toys unattended, as your cat could swallow it.

There are also some great interactive cat toys that you can turn on with a button press and leave your cat to enjoy it. While more expensive, these toys often keep cats occupied for hours. 

But you don't just need to spend money on toys, as most cat owners will tell you cats love to play with random objects that aren't theirs. Whether it's a bottle cap or an empty box, your cat will be interested in it, so make sure to leave some of those lying around.

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2. Give them a view

There's so much going on outside, and your cat loves to watch. Cats love looking out of windows, so make sure you give kitty a room with a view. 

One study found that the median amount of time spent by cats at windows was two hours, so it really is worth facilitating things so that they get regular access. Maybe position a cat tower close to one, or keep a shelf/cupboard top free for them to pass judgement on the outside world. There's also some great window-mounted cat seats that suctions to the glass, giving kitty a fantastic perch to judge your neighbors from. 

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3. Cat furniture

Cats love to be up high and they love to scratch, so a cat tower or a scratching post (or a cat tower with a scratching post) is a great investment. Many cat towers include hidey holes or interactive bits and bobs, so make sure you do your research to find the best one for your cat. And there are plenty of cat towers that are designed to look very cool in your space, so don't worry about one mucking up your interior design.

The more scratching posts you provide a cat, the less chance they'll turn those claws on your furniture, so make sure you grab one! Scratch posts help cats keep their claw length down and let them mark their territory, so they're a crucial thing to have in ever cat household. 

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4. Play time

Cats are definitely more low-maintenance than dogs, but that doesn't meant they're no maintenance. Most cats need some playtime with their human, as well, especially if your cat is left alone for long periods of time. To make up for this, it is vital that you schedule some one-on-one time with your pet. There’s virtually no limit to the amount of toys that are available – you could get a laser pen, or something as straightforward as a toy mouse. Or just give them a cuddle – cats thrive off of physical attention, and doing so will strengthen your bond and make them feel loved.

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5. Get them a cat (or human) buddy

Your cat may get lonely, especially if you've spent a chunk of time at home lately and are now venturing back out. That's why companionship is a great option to help keep your cat entertained. If your cat is still fairly young and generally gets on with other cats, then you might want to considering adopting another cat!

If budgetary restrictions prevent you from doing this, then why not let a friend, or someone you trust, come round during the day when you’re away or otherwise occupied? They’ll appreciate the attention, and you’ll feel less guilty as a consequence.

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6. Invest in an outdoor cat run

Outdoor cat runs/enclosures are a great compromise if you would like your cats to get some fresh air, but are reluctant to let them roam free. There are a number of examples available to buy online (we particularly like this offering from 4wire), and the options for customization are endless. With a bit of know-how, you could even connect it to the house via a tunnel and cat flap. It’s not a cheap option, but still worth investigating.

4wire Cat House/Play Pen

A 6x9ft enclosure adorned with cat-safe 16g wire and replete with 12 shelves and a sleeping box. It’s free standing, and there’s plenty of room to add your own items.

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7. Take them out for walk

Believe it or not, you can take cats out for a walk. You may need to harness train your cat first, but a cost-effective way to give your cats some outdoor time is to grab them a harness (we like this one from BINGPET). To help harness train them, put the harness on your cat while they're in the house (without the leash attached) and let them walk around with it on. Give them lots of treats and try and stay persistent with it, as they may be a bit dramatic and refuse to move around it in it.

After you've trained them, try and take them outside, but make sure the harness is labelled with a name or address in case they get away from you (it might also be worth having them microchipped for the same reason). Not all cats like going outdoors, but for those who do, the fresh air will do them a world of good.

BINGPET Escape Proof Cat Harness and Leash

This harness fits comfortably around the neck and chest, and should be secure for even the most Houdini-esque of cats. Comes with two D-rings to keep you and your cat together.

Bringing the outdoors inside is a great way to keep your cat safe while still keeping them entertained.

Bringing the outdoors inside is a great way to keep your cat safe while still keeping them entertained. (Image credit: Getty Images)

8. Bring the outdoors inside

If you can’t take your cat outside – or they simply don’t want to – then here’s a creative solution: cat grass. Outdoor cats often get into the habit of chewing grass. For indoor cats, there are various benefits. Chewing grass can help them with their digestion, and prevent hairballs from accumulating in their stomach. Furthermore, it’s an extra source of distraction, as it means they’ll be less likely to chew or nibble on household items that you’d rather they avoided. One of the best examples is this set from Catit.

Catit Senses Grass Planter

Arriving complete with grass seed, this is a good source of fibre, and a worthy substitute for outdoor cats. This offering is widely available from numerous online retailers.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

9. Provide them with a platform

Another byproduct of boredom of cats is the tendency to repeatedly jump on top of shelves and cupboards. This isn’t great, especially if you have ornaments, books etc that you’d rather weren’t disassembled every time your cat goes on a jumping spree. One way to prevent this is to keep some shelves free, ideally close to a window for them to gaze out of. Some enterprising individuals have gone one step further in constructing their own indoor playgrounds. If you possess the requisite DIY skills, then give it a go!

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10. Let the sunshine in

You may or may not have noticed, but cats love the sun. There are few things that make them happier than being warm, and lying in the full glare of the sun seems to do the trick in a number of cases. To this end, leave your curtains open during the day in areas of the house where it’s particularly potent. That way, your cat will be able to stretch out to their heart’s desire.

In summary 

Ultimately, what you have to remember is cats are complex beings. They require attention and stimulation like any other pet, and thus should be treated with the requisite care. Having a cat isn’t always the cheapest  endeavor, but the reward in companionship and love is immeasurable, and makes it all worthwhile. For more ideas on keeping your cat entertained read our round up of the Best Cat Toys 2020

Steve Wright

Steve has combined editing and writing for publications like SciFiNow, How It Works and All About History with being a doormat to various cats and dogs. He lodges with two moggies called Giles and Willow, and will be told off if he doesn't mention his girlfriend's magnificent pooch, Toby.