One of the things many people find very appealing about cats is that they can be left alone for longer periods than dogs. Even with the convenience of a litter box and an endless supply of food, cats left alone for long stretches of time, day after day, can suffer from loneliness, boredom and even separation anxiety.
Indoor cats left alone with no stimulation or environmental enrichment are more likely to become bored or lonely. Does that mean the solution is to allow your cat to go outdoors for stimulation and entertainment? Certainly not. The outdoor environment is filled with stimulation but it’s also filled with danger and uncertainty. It’s my recommendation that cats be kept indoors but when you do that, you have a responsibility to ensure the indoor environment provides the enrichment need to keep your cat mentally active and healthy.
Some Signs Your Cat may be Bored
- Lack of appetite
- Sleeping more than normal
- Destructive behavior
- Over-grooming (even to the point of creating bald patches)
- Litter Box Issues
If your cat is displaying any of the above behaviors or another change in his normal behavior, the first step is to visit the veterinarian. Behavioral changes can be due to an underlying medical condition so it’s important to get a veterinary exam before assuming a problem is behavioral. If there does turn out to be a medical issue it doesn’t mean your cat won’t also benefit from some boredom busters as well though. Every cat deserves environmental enrichment. To get you started, here are some tips to help prevent boredom in your home alone cat.
1. Set out Some Puzzle Feeders
Food-dispensing toys are an easy way to provide added enrichment. Working for food is a concept that’s a natural for cats but in many households, food is just piled high in the food bowl so the cat doesn’t get the opportunity to seek out his prey. As hunters, cats enjoy the chance to search for prey, stalk, pounce and enjoy their reward. Use a puzzle feeder so you can enjoy a little bonus playtime during meals. The puzzle feeder also encourages him to eat more slowly. There are more puzzle feeders available for dry food because wet food will spoil more quickly, especially if you plan on leaving puzzle feeders out for the day while you’re at work. You can still use wet food puzzle feeders but they’re best when the cat can enjoy them right away to ensure freshness. Save the wet food puzzle feeders for when someone will be home.