A bored cat is an unhappy cat, but there are ways to keep the kitties from getting bored when they are alone in the house.
Cats aren’t nearly as solitary and aloof as popular culture makes them out to be. Pet cats want to be with their human family. Also, there comes a time when that catnip mouse has lost its novelty. It still gets batted around sometimes, but usually it is ignored by your bored and lonely kitty while you’re away at work or out at the shops.
But don’t panic! There are many ways to entertain your cats, keep them happy, and reassure them that you are as glad to see them as they are to see you.
Have you ever met a cat who doesn’t like boxes? Whenever you bring home something packaged in a clean box, save the box for your cat to play with. That box will become a play fort, a scratching post, a napping spot, and possibly a sled, providing hours of fun for the kitty. Consider cutting cat-sized holes in one or two boxes for added fun. Be sure the hole is big enough that the cat won’t get stuck.
Crumpled Paper, Paper Bags and Tissue Paper
Paper is almost as much fun as cardboard. The crinkly sound that paper makes is almost like leaves on the forest floor, so Kitty can pretend to be a mighty hunter in the jungle. Ripping and tearing the paper is fun, too. Of course, sturdy paper bags are perennial favourites as forts (always cut or remove the handles first!). If your cat enjoys foraging toys, consider tossing a couple pieces of kibble or toy mice into the paper bags or under tissue papers. Crumpled into a ball, a piece of paper becomes a wonderful toy for batting around the room and tearing apart.
All of this might sound very messy, but the paper remains are very easy to pick up, and the leftover pieces can be recycled or composted.
Any well-equipped kitty home contains cat furniture. The minimum is a scratching post or scratching bench. Good ones are made of cardboard or sisal rope. There are many shapes and sizes available, and many of them are inexpensive. If your vertical scratching post isn’t being used, try a horizontal or diagonal one or vice versa. Individual cats prefer different directions for their stretching and claw-maintenance activities.
A cat tree (or two or three…) is a wise addition to the household furniture. This piece of furniture is a combination scratching post, lounge chair, hidey-hole, and jungle-gym for your cat. They are available in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and styles. In addition to being good for your cat’s mental and physical health, a cat tree will tend to cut down on the damage to other furniture, because it allows your cat to indulge the normal feline instincts without needing to improvise with your couch and draperies.
Cats enjoy watching the world go by. If the window sill is too narrow, consider adding a shelf. Installing one in the wall can be a simple project. Most hardware stores sell bracket-based shelves and handsome wooden shelves with braces. An easier option is to push a bookshelf or table up to a window.
There are also DVDs meant for cats. Most of these have fish, birds, or rodents going about their business. Try showing one of these on your television. If the cats show interest in it, leave it on during the day.
When You Get Home
Most cats are going to be able to amuse themselves more easily when you’re away if they know you are going to give them attention and playtime when you get home. Make sure to greet your kitties and let them know how happy you are to see them.
What if you’re too tired to play with your rambunctious felines after a long day at work? Frolicat has just the thing. They make automated laser toys and cat-dancing toys. The toy moves the laser dot or dangly toy so you don’t have to. Plop it down on the chair beside you or on the coffee table, and you’re good to go. All you need to do is add affectionate words and scritches.
If you’re going to be away for an extended period, ask your cat-sitter to use the Frolicat toy, too.
Keeping Kitty Happy
Avoiding feline boredom is largely a question of planning. Invest in some kitty furniture, keep a stash of paper bags and cardboard boxes, and you’re already more than halfway there.
Sebastian Paulin is Director of Operations at Love That Pet. When not learning about the latest trends in pet supplies and cat care you will find Sebastian exploring the great outdoors with his Chocolate Labrador “Cadbury”.