Importance of . . . PLAY!
Each month, Cat Haven offers helpful information on the importance of a special topic.
This month the topic is . . . PLAY!

Have you noticed a change in your cat lately? Is she sleeping too much? Does she seem obsessed with food or has she lost interest in food?

Is she displaying negative or destructive behaviors such as aggression, or excessive grooming, scratching, or inappropriate elimination? When medical conditions or extreme changes in your household are not factors, these behaviors may be the undesirable result of boredom.

Boredom is not uncommon in indoor cats. Though indoor cats are known to sleep a large portion of the day, when awake they should keep busy hunting, playing, and defending territory by peering out windows, exploring any open cupboard or dark cubbyhole, and climbing up to elevated vantage points. When your cat is not doing these things, examine her environment and even your methods of care. Something may not be right.

Many factors cause boredom and its associated negative behaviors. Primary causes include extended periods of confinement or confinement within a small room. Also suspect is lack of socialization with other cats or humans or extended periods of time alone each day. Still other cats experience boredom because of a lack of mental and physical challenge, playtime, or toys and other items with which to interact.

Boredom and inactivity rear up in negative behaviors at first but over time can lead to illness such as depression. It is important to deal with the signs of boredom right away.

You will notice a pleasant change in cats that are given more stimulation, socialization, and assorted "play and prey" challenges. Indoor cats depend upon you to provide it.

There are many things that you can do for the health of your cat:

  Get your cat some new toys, especially toys that she can interact with by herself, and rotate them periodically. Hide some of them around your home in places she frequents. Also provide simple pleasures such as cardboard boxes with entrance holes.

   Socialize her by introducing her to many people and other friends' pets, when safe.

  Minimize confinement as much as possible - freedom to roam is very basic to cats. If you do not already have one, get a climbing tree or tower. Vertical space is just as important to cats as horizontal space.
  Cats are used to hunting for food in the wild. Though she may eat a well-balanced diet from out of a bowl, there is no reason you cannot duplicate the hunting instinct within your home by offering toys that move like real prey. You may also give her toys that in which you have hidden treats for her to fish out. Also consider allocating part of her regular dry diet for hiding around the house. She will enjoy the search and reward activity.

  When feasible, bring another cat into your home as a companion.

  Get a pet stroller, halter collar and leash, or outdoor enclosure and reward her with the pleasures of outdoor sights and sounds.
  Set aside time everyday to give your cat some one-on-one attention! You may even combine this with a grooming session or dental-care session.

Thanks to the Educational Staff at Drs. Foster & Smith for this article, Solutions to Cat Boredom .

Look at these terrific cat toys!

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