Are Mischievous Cats Just Bored?

Are Mischievous Cats Just Bored?

Your home could be dullsville for your feline, but it may only require simple changes.

By: Karen Asp

This scenario may be all too familiar: An unsuspecting cat owner comes home from work to find that his once well-behaved feline has tipped over a houseplant, batted everything off the home office desk and pulled a foot-long thread from the living room curtains. What’s the scoop? Simply put, kitty could be bored.

Understanding Cat Boredom
To understand the behaviour of a cat, consider what goes on in zoos. Several decades ago, zoo animals were often just given food and water and left to sit in their cages. Now, zookeepers devise numerous enrichment activities, encouraging the animals to hunt for food and even playing games with them.

“Today’s cats are like yesterday’s zoo animals — they stay home without much to do and rarely use their instincts to hunt, explore, play and interact,” says Steve Duno, a pet behaviourist in Seattle and author of “Be the Cat.” “As a result, they get a little nutty.”

While bored cats can exhibit destructive and antisocial behaviours, they might also demonstrate less obvious symptoms, including depression, excessive grooming, skin disorders, hypervocalization, house-training accidents, overeating and excessive sleeping.

Inspiration From Zoos
So what’s the solution? “Open your own zoo, so to speak, by offering your cat behavioural and environmental enrichments,” Duno says. However, instead of overwhelming your cat with these enrichments, introduce a few at a time.

Cures for Kitty Doldrums
If your own cat seems stuck in a dreary rut, and your veterinarian has ruled out any underlying health problems, our experts advise the following:


Become a member of P&G everyday and get exclusive offers!

Become a Member

Make Your Kitty “Hunt”
By nature, cats are hunters, which is why constantly putting their food in bowls or free-feeding may cause boredom. Instead, make it a game for them to find food. Try a toy ball that has food inside, or using boxes and various other obstacles.

Put Kitty on the Trail
If possible, hide food — or other smell-good items — around the house to stimulate your cat’s olfactory sense and to excite its hunting drive. For instance, leave scent trails throughout the house. Drop a little lavender oil or cinnamon in various places, leading your cat to a treat. You can also hide catnip or place an evergreen bough out of reach of your cat.

Provide Visual Stimulation
If possible, hang bird feeders near windows or a mobile from the ceiling — out of paw’s reach — for your cat to view. An aquarium or cat-themed DVDs are good for entertainment and companionship. You can also try rearranging the furniture to spark kitty investigations.

Boost the Fun Factor
Set up scratching posts and leave out interactive toys. But rotate them out so your cat doesn’t get bored, Duno says.

Your cat should respond almost immediately to these enrichment activities. Not only will you notice that it is more interested in its environment, but you should also start to see behavioural improvements.

Karen covers health, fitness, nutrition and pets for numerous publications, including Prevention, Woman's Day, Shape, Self, Fitness, Health, Real Simple, Good Housekeeping and Natural Health. She shares her office with two cats.

Complete your personal information

Please fill in the information marked with an asterisk to proceed; if you want to get tailored offers and content, don't forget to fill in the optional fields.

Yes Cats can get Mischievous when bored. They can start to get hyper from keeping their energy in and will sprint randomly for no reason as well.

  • Report it

In my opinion cats are the imps of the feline world and I wouldn't change them for the world

  • Report it

Useful! I have a VERY mischevious 2 year old kitty

  • Report it
Safe Home