8 Ways to Entertain a Bored Cat
By: Jody Smith | Reviewed by Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | May 30, 2017
Sometimes a bored cat will spend extra time sleeping, but a wide-awake cat who is bored can do some real damage. Aside from the collateral damage to your home, boredom left untreated can also lead to an overweight or unhealthy cat.
Your cat needs some exercise and stimulation, including playtime with you. Intriguing toys also help keep your kitty entertained while you are away. Here are some suggestions on how to enrich your cat’s home life.
1. Bags & Boxes
Fortunately, snagging your cat’s attention isn’t usually that hard to do. Your typical cat will plant itself in any box or basket that is remotely big enough to hold him — or at least allow for his overflow.
A paper bag on the floor can keep a cat busy for a long time. It’s even better for two or more cats. One settles inside the bag, while the other stays outside. The cat’s bat at each other. Sounds simple (and it is), but it’s a winner every time.
2. Catnip & Catnip Alternatives
Catnip toys can be very captivating and are great for bringing out at regular intervals so your cat doesn’t tire of them. Really, any delivery system that doesn’t fall apart right away will do for catnip, including a clean sock tied up at one end. Some of the best catnip toys are the ones that dispense a little catnip at a time so your cat doesn’t just eat it all right away because then the game is over pretty quickly. If your cat doesn’t respond to catnip, try honeysuckle or valerian toys.
3. Cat Food Puzzles
Make ’em work for their food! Seriously, these cat food puzzle feeders can also stimulate your cat’s brain and encourage some physical activity as well.
Store-bought cat food puzzles need to be sturdy and easy to clean. Homemade puzzles can also be a lot of fun: try paper towel rolls, empty tissue boxes or cereal boxes with holes cut out of them for making your own.
4. Cat Wand Toys
You can select from an array of different types to purchase, or you could make your own. Fasten a length of string, wire, ribbon or twine to a rod of some kind. You can fasten a feather or toy on to the end of the string to make the game more interesting.
Keep in mind that you don’t want your cat to swallow the string. That will create a most unpleasant situation for all concerned. Put cat wand toys away when you aren’t around to supervise.
5. Self-Grooming Toys
For cats that can’t get enough of being brushed, self-grooming devices will give them hours of enjoyment. Long-haired cats tend to like these toys the most. A cat self-groomer would include archways made out of bristle brushes and wall-mounted self-groomers. A common DIY version is to mount wooden nail brushes with nylon bristles to the corner of a wall or piece of furniture at cat level.
6. Things to Chew on and Destroy
The occasional bit of greenery makes for a very welcome treat for your cats to chew on. Fresh catnip, wheatgrass, oat grass, parsley and even carrot tops are safe and enjoyable treats that can be cheaply grown from seeds.
It’s the nature of felines to claw things up. Scratching pads and posts save your furniture while providing a nice feline workout. The secret to getting your cat to use it is to pay attention to your cat’s scratching habits and find something suitable. Many cats will totally ignore the horizontal cardboard scratching toys, which are often too small for them to use. Most cats prefer a large, vertical surface with an appealing texture (such as sisal rope or carpet) to scratch.
7. Structures to Play and Climb On
Cat trees. Cat condos. Cat gyms. Some of the names border on the cutesy — or go directly overboard — but this doesn’t negate the fact that these setups can be great for your cat. Cats enjoy being above it all, looking down upon us mere mortals.
However, big, expensive cat trees are also notorious for being ignored by cats. Unless you are replacing a worn-out cat tree, it’s usually a better idea to try a few small, carpeted shelves for your cat to climb on first. Consider the placement and distance carefully. A perch in front of a window is a particularly great location for your cat to enjoy the view.
8. Places to Hide
All cats like having somewhere cosy to hide, but it is absolutely critical in a multi-pet home or a household with children. Give your cats a place to get away from it all, and they might just stay out of your laundry bins and dresser drawers, too. It doesn’t have to be fancy: a soft towel in a cardboard box with a doorway cut out of it can do just as well as cat tent.
For a brief overview on how to entertain a bored cat, click on the clip below!
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