ADDRESSING FELINE BOREDOM
Is your cat really lazy, or is there an underlying issue?
Do you have a sofa-loving, nap all day, eat all night Garfield on your hands or is your cat suffering the effects of Feline Boredom?
Cats are often seen as the best pet for a busy on the go household. They are considered a low Maintenance pet over dogs or exotics because they are typically easier to care for with a busy work lifestyle. Cats have been seen as very independent pets, with fewer needs. Most often this is true, however some cats can definitely be quite needy and high Maintenance. Cats can develop separation anxiety, depression and behavioral problems, which can eventually lead to health issues. By enriching your cats environment, you can greatly improve their day to day life and prevent some of the problems caused by feline boredom.
Boredom in cats can affect them emotionally, physically and can have an effect on their overall health. Some issues that we can see in cats that require more environmental enrichment and stimulation are:
Over eating, leading to weight gain
Depression, lack of appetite
Inter-cat aggression or aggression towards people
Stress induced urinary health issues as well as inappropriate house soiling.
Some of these signs may also be symptoms of medical issues in your pet, if your pet is showing any symptoms you should always have him or her checked out by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes.
What is Environmental Enrichment?
Environmental enrichment is providing a fun, safe environment to help relieve stress or being under stimulated.
Fun, safe environment = Happier, confident cats.
Stressful or under stimulated/boring environment = Unhappy, stressed cats.
Spend some time getting to know your cat and what their needs are in order to determine what type of environmental enrichment they require in their day to day life. Some cats are quite playful, while others just love to cuddle or enjoy being scratched in a certain spot under their chin or between the ears. Some prefer the interaction of their favorite person paying attention and talking to them. Your cats body language will tell you what they like and don’t like. Some cats will play with any toy, while other cats may be pickier over which toy mouse they prefer to play with. There are many different types of interactive toys, laser pointers, scratching posts, tunnels, food puzzles, feather toys, etc. Find out what toys your cat prefers so that you can keep your cat active, stimulated and a come home to a happy kitty.
Some cats have a preference over vertical vs. Horizontal play. Figure out what type of toys stimulates your cat to move, whether it’s a toy mouse that they can chase around the floor, or a feather toy that they can jump and catch in midair.
Here is a list of some popular Boredom Busters for your cats:
Build a Catio
Lots of cat furniture (Scratching posts and perches).
Cat Tunnels and cubes
A Simple DIY you can do at home :
There are a lot of food dispensing toys and feeding bowls available to cats to help them stay active, prevent over eating and keep them busy by using their hunting and foraging instincts. By removing the food dishes piled up with food we are creating an environment for them to use their natural instincts. For a simple cat slow feeder/food puzzle that you can make at home, get a plastic water or soda bottle. Next cut some holes out of the sides (Not too big, just large enough for a piece of kibble to pass through, and not too many, should be a little challenging for them to get to the food). The object is to get them to roll the bottle around and “forage” for their food.