How to Engage a Bored Cat

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By Alana Stevenson

copyright: Erik Lam
copyright: Erik Lam

Some of you may have a bored or depressed kitty, or maybe you took in a kitty and live in a small apartment or just recently decided to keep your kitty inside when s/he previously had access to the outdoors.  If you have a singleton kitty, work long hours, have a young kitty who is restless and bored, or are keeping your outdoor cat now inside, here are some tips to help.

1)     Start to play with your kitty in the way s/he will like. Read How to Play with Your Cat. Many of us swing large cat toys or wands over our kitties’ heads or dangle toys at or above cats’ faces. This is not a fun way to play for a cat, especially for an adult cat. Initially, some cats may play, but they usually then walk away bored or disinterested. Play should mimic hunting.

  •  Make the toy act like prey. Make it quiver and slink around a corner. Keep the toy still so it ‘freezes’ as if it is real prey and knows it is being watched or senses danger.


  • Use small toys or cut or remove the large feathers and pom poms off of pole toys so your kitty can just chase the elastic string. Cats prefer small ‘things’ or toys to stalk and play with.  Most cat toys are too large to keep a cat’s interest. The plastic ends of pole toys are also very enticing. Hide and move them under rugs and pillows – most cats can’t resist. Use small bouncy balls. Larger plush toys are good for cats to grab, hold onto and bunny kick.


  • Wind down play by letting your kitty catch the toy a few times, then keep the toy still. Then feed your kitty some snacks or treats. This will end play and your cat will have a feeling of accomplishment.


2)     Increase vertical territory. Add some book shelves for your kitty to walk on. Buy a cat condo or cat tower. Cats like to climb and be on higher surfaces. Add window perches to windows. The more vertical territory you have for your cat, the happier your cat will be. See Tips to Have a Happy Cat.

3) Does your cat like food and treats? Roll treats on the floor for your kitty to chase and eat. When your kitty eats the treat, call your kitty to you again and toss another treat.  You can also toss treats one at a time in paper bags or boxes.

4) Baby talk or talk softly or sweetly to your cat. Acknowledge your kitty when either you or s/he enters a room. Your kitty will know your intention and your interest. If you ignore your cat, chances are your cat will ignore you or act out to get your attention

5) Provide edible plants. In the late spring, summer, and early fall, wild grasses and lawn grasses abound. Cats love lawn grass such as crab grass. Just make sure the grass is not treated with toxic pesticides and insecticides. Many cats dislike wheat grass and oat grass.

6) Your cat may love cat videos. There are many dvd’s available now made for cats. These videos show fish swimming in an aquarium, birds feeding at a bird feeder, and insects crawling across the screen. Many cats love kitty tv.

7)   Provide your cat with soft cat beds (you can purchase heated cat beds too). Cats love warmth and love soft blankets and bedding. There are heated beds available for cats that can be used as window perches.

8) Have an area outside where you can place a bird feeder so your kitty can watch from indoors? The activity of birds at bird baths and bird feeders can provide your indoor kitty with hours of entertainment.

9) If you do not have a cat and are thinking of getting a kitten, especially if you work long hours, get two so that they can keep each other company. Consider adopting older cats (cats can live into their twenties) or adopting a bonded pair. (And please adopt from a shelter. There are many homeless kitties out there.)

Copyright © Alana Stevenson 2014

See also Bringing an Outside Kitty Indoors and Kitty Destroying Sofa and Declawing.


Alana Stevenson can be contacted through her Website. She provides consultations by phone and skype.

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