by Ben Team
You may become pretty bored at work or school all day, but chances are, you’re enjoying much more stimulation than your homebound cat is. You’ll enjoy plenty of things that challenge, excite and inspire you over the course of the day, but your poor cat will be stuck staring at the walls for eight hours or more.
This can have a detrimental effect on your cat’s health, ultimately leading to depression, overeating and destructive behaviors. But even if it didn’t cause these problems, it’d still be a good idea to give your cat more things to do and enjoy during the day. You love her, after all, and want her to live her best possible life.
To help you keep your cat busy, we’ll outline a few different things you can do to help battle feline boredom. This includes everything from giving your cat toys to setting up elevated perches. We’ll even examine whether walking a cat is a viable strategy for preventing boredom.
1. Install a Cat Perch
Cats like running around and playing, but they also like to chill out and watch the world go by. So, install a comfy cat perch near one of the windows in your home. This will give your pet the chance to watch dog walkers, joggers and squirrels running around outside during the day.
2. Set Up Interactive Cat Toys or Training Games
There are a variety of training games and interactive cat toys on the market that can help keep your pet occupied while you’re away. Some utilize laser pointers, while others distribute treats. Some even include a two-way camera or intercom, which gives you the chance to interact with your cat from afar.
3. Invest in a Cat Tree
Cats love to climb things, and many also enjoy the security that elevated locations provide, making cat trees a fantastic item to add to your home. Many cat trees also include dark hiding places, which gives them a great place to lay low when visitors come over or the family dog starts to annoy them. As a bonus, many cat trees feature scratching posts, which may help reduce the wear and tear your feline inflicts on your furniture.
4. Set Up Some Puzzle Feeders
In the wild, cats must use their noggin to catch food. But all your pet cat needs to do is simply saunter into the kitchen to feast. This means that she doesn’t get the chance to exercise her brain as much as she should, which can lead to boredom. But puzzle feeders will require your cat to manipulate the toy in a specific manner to obtain her meal. This will help keep her brain busy as she tries to keep her tummy full.
5. Hide Treats Throughout the House
Another way to leverage your cat’s appetite to keep her busy is by hiding treats throughout the house before you leave in the morning. Scatter the treats widely, so she really has to search for them. Place one under a couch cushion, put another on top of her cat tree and put a few more in a room she rarely explores.
Just make sure you practice restraint when implementing this strategy, as cats who eat too many treats can become obese. You don’t want treats to supply more than 10 percent of your cat’s daily calorie allotment.
6. Toss an Empty Cardboard Box on the Floor
It’s cliché to point out how magnetically attracted cats seem to be toward cardboard boxes, but the trope exists for a reason: Most cats simply can’t resist exploring a new box on the floor. So, take advantage of this by giving your cat one to check out when you leave your home in the morning.
Best of all, cardboard boxes are essentially free. It isn’t difficult to keep several on hand, which will allow you to give your cat a different one to explore every day of the week.
Thinking Outside the Box: Is Walking a Cat a Good Idea?
Although relatively few owners think of doing so, walking a cat is a great way to help break up the monotony of your indoor pet’s daily life.
For safety’s sake, just be sure you use a leash anytime you do so. This will prevent your cat from bolting up a tree or out into traffic when you encounter dogs or other frightening things. Just be sure to introduce collars and leashes to cats gradually, as many will initially resist being tethered to their human.
Ben Team is a lifelong environmental educator and animal-care professional, who now writes about animals, outdoor recreation and the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a spoiled-rotten rottweiler, who is probably begging him to go to the park at this very moment.