The Catification Lady: Stop The Boredom!
One crazy cat lady explores the depths
of Cat Behavior, Catification, and Environment Enrichment.
Part 1 of 2
Your love affair with your cat can be a
bumpy one, from litter box problems to scratching up the furniture.
If the two (three, four, or more) of you are not living happily ever
after, it could just be that your cat is bored.
Like people, cats deserve to have an
interesting life. When a cat gets bored she can start to develop
behaviors that we as humans don't want. Boredom can lead to a cat
becoming neurotic, depressed, anxious, destructive, fat, sick or
aggressive. And it can certainly lead to her trying to amuse herself
sometimes at the expense of your sofa.
Cats are pretty smart creatures and
they are stuck within the four walls of your home for what will
hopefully be the rest of their life. Your home is their forever home.
As their guardians we need to make sure that their minds and bodies
are engaged. If not, remember the English proverb... “An idle mind
is the Devil's workshop.”
Well, your little devil has the ability
to cook up plenty of trouble if she gets bored enough. So what to do?
Think about your cat's day. Cats sleep
a lot, but when she's not sleeping, what's she doing? Now consider
how you can make her life more interesting. Yes, you can and should
pet her and cuddle her if she's willing, but there's so many other
ways to relieve her boredom level. Here's some thoughts on keeping
your cat's mind engaged and body active:
1. Many cats engage in self play
to keep themselves amused such as batting a small toy ball or
knocking a paper clip or pen off the table to watch it fall. But
that's really not enough all by itself to keep a kitty healthy and
happy. However, try leaving a toy dangling somewhere the cat may pass
and see if the kitty shows any interest. If so, dangle different toys
over time and put them in different spots to see what kitty shows an
interest in. Then switch it up occasionally to keep things interesting.
2. Cat's love to watch “Kitty TV”,
aka looking out the window. If it's a nice day, open the screened
windows and doors to let some of the outside in. Make sure she has a
perch of some sort near a window, even if it's just the back of the
sofa or a chair that's pulled up temporarily. The little hunter in
her will appreciate the excitement of watching a bird or squirrel, or
just watching a leaf blow by. If you have multiple cats, have
multiple perches and windows that are set up for prime time kitty TV watching. Keep the shades up or the curtains pulled back enough so
they can see out.
3. It's Play Time! Most cats
love to play and I don't have to be psychic to know that you're
probably not playing with your kitty enough. Cats love string toys
and it's actually important for their health that they are allowed to
embrace their hunting nature. They are predators and stalking and
killing that string toy gives them both the mental and physical
exercise they need. Most cats would be thrilled if you played with
them multiple times a day, but try for at least two 10 minute play
sessions. After play, try giving your kitty a treat. And if you make
the last play session right before meal time, this can help satisfy
the hunt-kill-eat programming they have built into them. They'll also likely groom and relax when you're trying to get to bed.
4. Switch out toys. If you've
noticed that your cat isn't as enthusiastic at playtime as she used
to be, try switching out toys every couple of weeks. Try a string
toy, a laser pointer (being careful not to point into the cat's
eyes), or even a tin foil ball you made yourself. If you retire one
toy and bring out a previous favorite, your cat may show new
enthusiasm for the toy that's been brought back out.
5. Create a food puzzle.
Food puzzles are an especially good way to keep your cat entertained
and satisfied with minimal effort on your end. You can leave a
food puzzle for them when you head out for your day of work and,
assuming your cat is food motivated and the food in the puzzle is
appealing to them, they'll happily go at it to fish the food out. You
can buy food puzzles at pet stores, on the internet or you can make
your own. Take a cardboard toilet paper roll, close off the ends by
pressing them in and poke some holes in the roll big enough to put
food in, but small enough the treats won't fall out easily. Then roll
your new food toy on the ground and let the cat have at it. If you
have multiple cats, you may want to put down multiple puzzles. You
can even prepare these the night before and put them in the frig, so
they're ready for you when you're running out the door to get to
6. The big drip! While most cats
don't like getting a bath, many are fascinated by a slow dripping
sink. No, you probably don't want your cat on your kitchen counters,
but the bathroom might be an acceptable option, especially if you cat
likes to follow you in there. Ease on the cold water knob so the
water drips and see if your cat likes to play with the water or drink
it. But make sure not to leave it on. A few minutes is usually more
than enough to give your kitty a treat and a drink.
7. The best toy ever. Your cat's probably informed you of this already, but in case you've been holding out ... CATS LOVE BOXES and PAPER BAGS. When you get something delivered, let your cat have her way with the box. And once and a while, ask for paper bags instead of plastic. You can always throw away the box or bag when the cats have had their fun.
Check back in a couple days for a bunch
MORE boredom eliminating tips in part two of this article called “Stop the
Boredom, The Sequel!”