Worried that your indoor cat is bored at home? Or want to keep your outdoor cat entertained indoors during winter? Discover the signs of a bored cat to look out for and some cat boredom busters to try at home
While some cats may be happy to keep themselves entertained, others may need a bit more stimulation to keep their minds active and prevent them from becoming bored.
Indoor cats, and cats who spend more time indoors during the colder winter months, can be particularly prone to boredom if they do not have enough entertainment indoors.
How to tell if your cat is bored
If you notice any changes in your cat’s behaviour, consult your vet in the first instance so they can rule out any medical causes before investigating if it could be the result of boredom. Many of these behaviours can be caused by a variety of different things, so if our solutions below do not work you may need to look into other causes.
- Zoomies – Also known as franetic random activity periods (FRAP), zoomies can be an indicator of boredom. While the occasional ‘funny five minutes’ is normal, if your cat is getting the zoomies regularly (eg daily or even more frequently) then they could be telling you they’re bored
- Sleeping a lot – It’s normal for cats to get a lot of sleep (some can sleep for 12-18 hours a day!) but if your cat is sleeping more than usual, their inactivity could be a sign of boredom
- Excessive meowing – If your cat appears to be trying to get your attention, perhaps by meowing or getting in your way, it could be that they’re bored and want you to entertain them
- Destroying furniture and furnishing
- Attacking humans and other animals
How to help a bored a cat
Play with themInteractive play is the best way to keep your cat entertained. Most cats will only need short play session of a few minutes at a time, but try to fit in several of these each day and change up the toys you use to keep it interesting. Read below for the best cat toys for bored cats.
Let them outsideThe outside world has plenty to interest your cat, from prey to chase, trees to climb and various places to explore. If your cat is ok to go outside, give them access during the day, making sure they can get back inside when they want to, and at night. If you have an indoor cat, you could look into getting an enclosed ‘catio’ that’s attached to the house for them to access. Find more advice on keeping your cat safe outside.
Provide a window perchIf your cat can’t go outside, or prefers to stay indoors, then they can still enjoy the sights of the outside world through the window. Give them access to a windowsill or perch near a window with an interesting view, so they can watch the local wildlife. You could even place a bird or squirrel feeder outside the window to create some entertainment.
Grow some cat grassBring the outside world inside by planting some cat grass in a pot indoors. Many cats love to chew on cat grass, and it can even help with their digestion. Find more advice on cat-safe plants.
Try some trainingIt’s not just dogs who can be trained! It’s possible to teach your cat to do all sorts of things, including sit, roll over and respond to their name. Plus, it’s a great way to keep them mentally stimulated and strengthen your bond. Take a look at our cat training guides to find out how.
Provide puzzle feedersMaking mealtimes fun is a great way to stave off boredom. Encourage your cat to work for their food by using puzzle feeders. There are lots of different types you can buy, or you can make your own. Find out how to make feeding puzzles for your cat.
Give them a groomMost cats need a bit of help with grooming every now and then, particularly long-haired cats who need brushing once a day. Grooming is a great activity you can do together and most cats will enjoy the attention. Find out how to groom your cat.
Give them something to climbCats love to get up high so they can feel safe and watch the world go by from a good vantage point. Try providing them with a cat tower, cat shelves and walkways, or simply clear some space on top of furniture or shelves so they can explore their home from different hights.
Think carefully before getting another catYou might think that getting your cat a feline friend to play with will help prevent them getting bored, but this might not work. Cats are naturally very solitary animals and won’t necessarily want to play with other cats. In fact, having another cat around could cause them a lot of stress. If you do decide to get another cat, make sure you follow our guide to introducing cats carefully, to increase the chances of them getting along.
My cat is bored but won’t play
If your cat appears to be bored but is also not interested in play, it could be that something else is wrong, so get them checked over by a vet to see if they have any health issues you are unaware of. If they are healthy but still not playing, you might have simply not found their favourite toy yet. The best types of toys for cats are ones they can stalk, chase and eventually get to catch and ‘kill’, as this is what releases the feel-good hormones in their brains that makes play so fun. Therefore, avoid toys such as laser pens as these can never be caught.
The best cat toys for bored cats
- Fishing rod toys – Most cats are attracted to movement, as this is how they spot their pray. Fishing rod toys are ideal as you can wiggle them around to catch your cat’s attention, and then slowly drag the string away from them along the floor so they can stalk and pounce on it
- Kicker toys – Once cats have caught their prey they often like to ‘bunny kick’ it – grabbing it with their front paws and kicking it with their back legs – so cat kicker toys are great for giving them the opportunity to do this
- Catnip and puzzle feeders – Some cats may need some motivation in the form of catnip or food to encourage play. You could try giving them toys stuffed with catnip or sprayed with catnip spray, or try some puzzle feeders with some of their food hidden inside
- Ping pong balls – As well as playing with your cat, try giving them some toys they can play with alone. Ping pong balls or even scrunched up pieces of tin foil can be great for your cat to bat around the house whenever they want some fun
Find more advice on how to play with your cat, including ideas for homemade toys.
Do cats get bored of their food?
Many cats will be happy to eat the same food every day, as they’re just grateful to have a tasty meal. However, some cats may get bored with a lack of variety in their diet, as in the wild they would be used to eating birds, rodents, insects and more. If your cat isn’t eating and appears to be off their food, get them checked by a vet first, to make sure there isn’t a medical cause for their lack of appetite. If they are otherwise healthy and you would like to make mealtimes more interesting for your cat, here are some things you can try.
Change food graduallyIf you do want to try giving your cat something different at mealtimes, makes sure it is still a ‘complete’ cat food (it should say so on the label) as this will have all the nutrients they need to stay healthy. When changing their food, make sure you do so gradually so as not to cause an upset stomach. Add a little of their new food to their old food and gradually increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food over a period of several days.
Warm it upCats are very sensitive to smell, so warming their normal wet food up slightly will help to increase the aroma and make it more enticing.
Add a little treatEvery now and then you could add some cat treats or plain cooked chicken or fish to your cat’s food to make it more appetising – but make sure to give these sparingly to avoid your cat putting on too much weight. You can also try adding a little water from a tin of tuna to their food, but avoid using tuna in brine as it’s too salty.
Provide wet and dry foodYou could try giving your cat a mixture of wet food and dry biscuits to provide a variety of textures. Just make sure it all adds up to their daily allowance of food to keep them healthy and prevent them from becoming overweight.
Make mealtimes funThe best way to make your cat’s food more exciting is to feed them in a fun way. Try hiding food inside puzzle feeders or various hiding places around the house to encourage your cat to use their brain and hunt it out. Not only will this provide mental stimulation, but it encourages them to exercise too.