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Here's how to tell if your cat is bored and what you can do to fix it.

Is My Cat Bored? 6 Tell-Tail Signs of Cat Boredom and How to Fix It

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Just like a human, if your cat is bored, they may develop some bad habits or even start doing things that are either unhealthy for them or frustrating for you. Repetitive behaviors, overeating, terrorizing other pets, or even becoming destructive are all potential signs that your cat is bored. 

Cats are home all the time and, depending on their parents’ lifestyle, sometimes by themselves. Despite their reputation for being independent, cats can get lonely and bored, and extended time by themselves can cause anxiety.

Here’s how to tell if your cat is bored and how to fix it!

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6 Signs of Cat Boredom

1. Over-Grooming or Other Repetitive Behaviors

A tell-tale sign of cat boredom is over-grooming. A bored cat will repeatedly lick, pull out fur, or chew at their skin, leading to irritation, which only makes the problem worse.

Excessive meowing is another behavior that can indicate cat boredom.

2. Overeating

If you’ve ever popped open a bag of chips or finished off a carton of ice cream simply because there was nothing else to do, you understand exactly how boredom can lead to unnecessary eating.

Bored cats can develop the same unhealthy habit of overeating when they’ve got nothing else to do. Your cat’s eating habits while bored may result in obesity and all of the health issues that accompany it.

3. Inactivity

It’s totally normal for your cat to spend a lot of time napping. However, they also need physical stimulation, like playing, play-hunting, climbing, and exploring. If your cat seems depressed or never wants to leave the comfort of their sleeping place, you may have a bored cat in your hands.

6 signs your cat is bored

4. Terrorizing Other Pets

Sometimes, cat boredom could result in your kitty chasing and annoying other animals in the house. If your cat is attacking other cats, ambushing the dog, or stalking the guinea pig, one possible explanation is that she needs other stimulation.

Cats are natural predators, and since we’ve taken them out of their natural hunting habitat, they may seek to fulfill that instinct inappropriately, especially when they’re bored. 

5. Peeing Outside the Box

Going outside the litter box is another frustrating behavior that can sometimes be attributed to cat boredom. Of course, it may also mean that your cat has developed a disliking of her box or her litter. Any time a cat starts having litter box issues, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your veterinarian to rule out medical or behavior problems. After that, a litter box makeover (along with steps to address boredom) will frequently solve the problem.

Any change in behavior is a good reason to talk to your veterinarian so you can identify and treat any sneaky underlying issues. In addition, adding a few cat boredom busters is a sure way to make your cat’s life more stimulating and interesting.

6. Destructive Behavior

If your cat is shredding your curtains or destroying your furniture, it’s not out of spite! A cat bored of inactivity may start engaging in destructive behaviors as a form of stimulation. Remember, she’s using this behavior to try and communicate with you.

Providing them with proper stimulation can go a long way to warding off cat boredom and these bad behaviors.

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How to Entertain a Bored Cat

Create A More Enriching Indoor Environment

Window Seats: Set up perches in different rooms throughout your house. Birds, butterflies, and squirrels provide interesting, interactive entertainment that will keep even the most bored cats amused for hours. You can even bring the entertainment right to the window by setting up a bird feeder or a birdbath just outside.

Scratching posts: Scratching is a completely natural behavior, but cats need an appropriate outlet. If your kitty is shredding your sofa or area rugs, a scratching post or mat is a great option to keep her busy without damaging your furniture.

Kitty City Sisal Post Cat Scratchers and Cushion
  • Attractive and neutrally toned to fit any decor
  • Extra-tall height
  • Fun, jingle ball toy included at the top of the post
  • Easy assembly

Cat towers: Cat towers or cat trees will allow your cat to climb, scratch, and perch as they wish. They can be a bit bulky, but if you have the room, they’re a great way to keep your cat engaged. 

Amazon Basics Extra Large Cat Tree Tower
  • Multi-platform cat tree with enclosure and natural jute fiber scratching posts
  • Tiered platforms provide space for your cat to relax, play, and climb
  • Durable, long-lasting construction

Cat Caves: Cats are naturally drawn to cozy hiding spots so why not provide them one of their very own? A cat cave is basically a pet bed that’s shaped like a ball with a single hole for them to crawl into.

MEOWFIA Premium Felt Cat Bed Cave - Handmade 100% Merino Wool Bed
  • 100% free from harsh chemicals and synthetic materials
  • Hand-crafted from 100% merino wool, making it ultra-durable, yet super soft, lightweight, and portable
  • Provides a private place for your cat to hide or sleep inside, but they can also relax an play on the top outside
  • Keeps your kitty warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

You could also make a hideaway by simply cutting a hole in a box. Another option is to open a brown paper bag and place it in the middle of the room. Cats usually find these spots irresistible.

Playtime: Best Cat Toys for Bored Cats

Toys are a great way to provide both physical and mental exercise, as well as providing quality bonding time with you. It’s also a good idea to find a few interactive toys your cat loves and then rotate them occasionally to keep things fresh. Here are a few of my favorite toys to engage your cat’s mind.

Puzzle Feeders: Puzzle feeders are toys that contain food or treats, but your cat has to work to figure out how to release them. One of my favorite puzzle toys for cats is Doc & Phoebe’s Indoor Hunting Feeder.

Doc & Phoebe's Indoor Hunting Cat Feeder
  • Helps keep your kitty active, healthy, and lean
  • Appeals to their natural hunting instincts
  • Easy to use
  • Durable and long lasting

It comes with three mice that you fill with food and hide around the house. Not only does your cat have to play with the mice to get the food out, but she’ll also have the fun of finding them! This toy engages her natural hunting instincts and provides mental stimulation.

Catnip: A catnip toy can add an element of interest to keep your cat stimulated and happy.

Although it’s most well known for inducing an energetic, active response, some cats react to it by becoming calm and relaxed. You may even be able to grow your own for a cat-friendly indoor garden.

Catstages Lil' Avocato Dental Health Catnip Cat Chew Toy
  • Made with mesh material that gently cleans soft plaque and tartar off your kitty's teeth as they play and chew
  • Perfect for engaging your cat in a playful game or letting them bat and swat on their own
  • Help satisfy kittens' and older cats' urge to chew and redirect their behavior away from your hands and furniture!
  • Stuffed with dried catnip for an irresistible bite

Interactive Toys: Interactive toys are a fun way to bond with your cat while providing her mind and body with some much-needed stimulation.

MeoHui Interactive Cat Toys
  • Combines string and feathers into a great toy for indoor cats
  • Encourage your cats to flip, jump, pounce, chase
  • Provides exercise and entertainment, helping your cat feel happy and relaxed

Usually these toys involve some kind of feather or toy attached to a pole and string for you to dangle for your cat.

Laser pointers are another fun option for your cat to chase. In my experience, cat parents find these toys just as amusing as their kitties do. Playing with your cat for fifteen minutes or so a couple of times a day gives her an element of excitement to look forward to. Some cats can become over-stimulated, leading to anxiety, so make sure your play time is well structured and relatively short.

Treat Your Indoor Cat to Some Outside Time

Inside is by far the safest place for cats. However, you may be able to provide your cat with safe, supervised time outdoors that your kitty may love. If you do take your kitty outdoors at all, check in with your veterinarian for appropriate flea and tick protection.

Enclosed Porch: If you’re lucky enough to have a screened-in porch, this is the perfect space to allow your cat to enjoy the sunshine, breeze, and birds in safety. Even if you don’t have one already, there are many ideas on the Internet on how to build a dedicated outdoor space, or “catio,” for your cat. Of course, cats should be supervised in any type of enclosure and shouldn’t be left alone for too long.

Go for Walks: Taking your cat for a walk is one way to allow her to enjoy outside stimulation without exposing her to the dangers of roaming free outdoors.

Some cats will walk on a lead with a harness. Others do better in a cat stroller or backpack. These strollers are designed with small pets in mind and feature enclosures to keep your cat safe but allow her to take in the sights along the way.

Pet Gear Happy Trails Lite Pet Stroller for Cats and Dogs
  • Zippered enclosure
  • Easy-fold mechanism
  • Pocket for storing cellphone, keys, etc. 
  • Large storage basket with top and panoramic view windows

Spend Time Together

Playing together isn’t the only way to alleviate your cat’s boredom. Other ways to bond include cuddling, reading, and brushing. Find what works for you and your cat. The important thing is to make time for it regularly so your cat doesn’t feel lonely and bored.

Go here to learn about more ways to show your cat you love them.

Get a Buddy

With enough stimulation in their environment, many cats are fine being “only cats.” Others might benefit from a little feline companionship. If you choose to bring home another cat to keep your kitty company, you may want to try fostering first. This way you’ll be able to tell if your cat will welcome the new companion. Introduce a new cat slowly, and make sure both cats get adequate, separate, attention.

Why Won’t My Cat Play with Her Toys?

If your cat is bored but won’t play with her toys, the problem might also be the toys themselves. Cats can grow bored with toys that don’t stimulate their natural hunting instincts. They typically prefer toys that move unpredictably and resemble prey. 

Rotating toys and introducing new playthings regularly can spark interest. You can also try simple things you can find around the house—a toilet roll or a craft project. I’ve never seen a cat not wiggle at the sight of a cardboard box! But never give your cat anything she might accidentally swallow, and make sure you supervise her while she plays.

If these strategies don’t work, you may need to visit your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues, and a behaviorist can offer more personalized strategies to encourage play.

The Final Tail

Being bored is no fun for humans or cats! Thankfully, it’s simple to keep your cat active and entertained, even if you have to leave them alone from time to time.

Download the FREE Cat Bonding Ebook

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience working with pets.

Through this blog and her book, Pampered Pets on a Budget, Kristen has helped millions of pet parents solve problems and provide the best care for their dogs and cats.

Working alongside hundreds of pet professionals, including veterinarians, behaviorists and trainers inspired Kristen to become a pet parenting “guide”, providing readers with reliable information about health, wellness and lifestyle for dogs and cats and the people who love them.

A dogged advocate for pet adoption and rescue, Kristen has featured over 1,000 adoptable dogs and cats from the SPCA on live television and radio appearances to get them adopted. Her blog, has been featured in over 100 media outlets – including the New York Times, USA Today, FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, Women's Day, Reader's Digest, Good Housekeeping, Pop Sugar and more.

To stay up to date on the latest health and lifestyle trends for pets, Kristen regularly attends the top veterinary and pet product conferences, where she’s often a featured speaker.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I have a cat highway everything u mentioned here except being able to let her out where I lived before she was able to inside and outside but the apartments I live in now I can’t let her out and no matter what I do she is very unhappy she is two and half old and part maincoon she’s been indoors for a year need help to make her happy and stop crying

    1. Hi Dawn,

      I am sorry to hear that your cat seems to be unhappy! Is she crying all the time? She could be trying to tell you something, rather than being bored. First, take her to the vet to rule out any health problems.

      Once she is determined to be healthy, ensure that she has plenty of interactive toys at home. Things like hunting feeders, cat grass, and toys that move around are key to keeping her entertained and satisfying that hunting instinct throughout the day. I really like Doc and Phoebe hunting feeders. You can put little treats, or kibble in them for your cat to hunt.

      I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes.


  2. hi! i have two cats, one of them never seems to be bored and is very content. the other one however is constantly bored, he runs around, destroys everything, meows loudly, weaves between my feet, and bullies the other cat. i don’t understand what to do because he has a multitude of interactive toys, i’m home almost all day every day, i take him outside sometimes, and he has access to lots of windows, toys, and food and water. he seems so bored out of his skull though and i feel horrible about it. do you have any idea what i could do to help him be less bored? thank you so much!!

    1. Take him to the vet. My cat was going through something similar and I couldn’t understand why!! Took him to the vet and turned out he had parasites and needed to be neutered!

  3. Hi,
    I have two cats, I used to live in a house with 2 other cats and 3 dogs, my two cats used to always have others to play with and my roommates were always home so my cats were always able to be pet or cuddled even when I was out. We also used to have a back yard and I would let them out occasionally. I recently moved to an apartment and now it’s just me and my 2 cats, I have family here and I’m looking for a job and going to school so I’m out a lot, I try to be home so my cats don’t feel lonely or something but they always seem bored now. They kind of just walk around the apartment or sleep, I have a tower for them and scratching post as well as tunnels and other toys for them but I still feel like they don’t look very content. When I get home they seem to miss me so I pet them and try to play but one just seems apathetic and the other only plays a bit and walks away. Are they okay or what else can I do so they are happy and playful again?

    p.s I am trying to fix my balcony with cat friendly plants so I can take them out there when I’m home

  4. My kitten was never the same after she was spayed, a completely different cat, used to climb curtains, play fight with sister, now she just likes to lay and do nothing and eat had to put her on a diet, the sister is the same as she was months ago. I keep telling the vet she’s a completely different cat but just says that can happen, she’s a year old now and never cases anything just lays there ?

  5. I have a maine coon cat. He seems to be bored. He doent do anything such a play with toys I put the toys out and he plays for a minute. My other cat is so needy. She always let me know when she wants me to play But my maine coon if he wants something he will sit next too what he wants an stares at me . The maine coon is mute. He just started to chirp at night. They both play together. They run around together. But the maine coon at night starting to chirp a lot at night. He never has done this before. Its been a month now. He is 7 years old. My question is how do I help him play more

    1. Hello Joyce,

      That sounds very frustrating. One thing I found that helps is to try a wide variety of toys to see if it’s all toys that he’s not interested in or just certain types of toys. One of my friends had a cat who would ignore every fancy toy his pet parent tried. They finally figured out he only liked one thing – chasing shoelaces! If he likes catnip, catnip-infused toys may get him playing. You may also want to try playing at different times of day. For example, some cats are only into playing before their meals. Hope this helps!


  6. Thanks for the suggestion to consider having your cat checked by a vet when they start ignoring food. I have a friend who wants to try adopting a kitten as his companion while living alone. I should talk to him about finding an animal clinic that can help them out someday.

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