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Cat Behavior – Can Your Cat’s Boredom Lead to Illness?
Imagine a cat sitting at home all day with the curtains drawn, nothing to do and no one to talk to. If you lived in the wild, your natural feline behavior would lead you to watch birds and bugs, roam, chase, jump, hide, pounce, and spend half the day happily looking for a mouse to eat. You can also defend your territory and stretch your muscles. However, indoor cats that don’t get enough exercise, stimulation and healthy food can suffer. Their boredom can lead to depression or illness.
Watch for signs of boredom
If your cat’s behavior isn’t what you’d hoped, it could be because she’s bored or lonely. Here are some common signs of cat behavior that you may notice.
1. Moving small objects or items of clothing around the house while you are away.
2. Pulling out tufts of hair or obsessive exaggeration.
3. Knocking things off counters.
4. Spraying or squatting to mark areas with deposits of urine or stool.
5. Expressing himself with excessive volume, most likely gives you the impression that he is bored or lonely.
6. Displaying aggressive behavior or acting out, especially when leaving.
7. Binge eating when there is nothing to do is comforting.
Boredom and depression can be severe
Boredom can lead to depression in cats. If left on for too long, it can also lead to illness and other health problems in cats. A lack of exercise and stimulation can lead to unhappiness, weak muscles, a sluggish immune system, and ultimately depression or stress and adrenal disease. In fact, behavioral problems in cats are also reported to be the most common reason for euthanasia and abandonment of otherwise healthy animals. Don’t let your cat procrastinate or get bored!
Try these solutions for healthy cat behavior
- If you only have one cat, consider getting a feline companion. According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive® and commissioned by ARM & HAMMER Multi-Cat Strength Cat Litter, animal experts now agree that cats are social—not solitary—animals by nature. When asked, more than 8 out of 10 vets agree that cats do NOT prefer to be left alone. (It’s almost as easy to take care of two cats as it is to take care of one.)
- Offer to play with the cat at the same time every day. Cats love routine. Buy or make toys that simulate the fun of hunting, chasing, jumping and hiding. Play with your cats for 20-30 minutes once or twice a day.
- Set a regular time for self-care a few days a week. Keep some brushes, combs, and scrapers handy. A good time to do this is after your cat has played and used up some of her frustrated energy as she is ready to be gentle and cuddle.
- Before you leave your home each day, hide some favorite toys and treats. Rotate their favorite toys to different places each day. Get a plastic inflatable ball and put some healthy treats in it that will take a little work to get out of the holes. This provides exercise and challenge, and a reward for the cat’s good behavior is welcome.
- Give your cat freedom of movement. Minimize restrictions as much as possible. If you don’t already have one, get a climbing tree or tower. Vertical space is just as important to a cat’s health as horizontal space for exercise and agility. You can also get a cat harness and lead and take your cat outside to explore, get some fresh air and sunshine.
- Make yourself a comfortable seat by the window. Cats love to look out the windows and observe birds, bugs and lots of interesting things. Placing a bird feeder behind a window where the birds will be safe and your cat can observe them will provide your cat with hours of entertainment, mental stimulation and emotional satisfaction.
- Give your cat a scratching post. This gives them a place to remove old nail sheaths and also allows them to exercise and strengthen their muscles to stay strong. Scratching also relieves stress, frustration and boredom or helps them “warm up” for some playful antics. But best of all, it gives them a convenient way to mark their territory with paw pads. (This is much better than inappropriate spray or other markings or damage to the furniture!)
- Most importantly, feed your cat a high-quality food with real meat, NOT meat by-products. It may cost more, but it can help prevent disease and promote better health, so it will save you in the long run. In addition, cats will eat less and get better nutrition. Do all these things and your cat’s health and behavior will change to be calmer and happier. Most likely, the two of you will also form a closer bond. SOURCES: Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, DACVB (a leading veterinary behaviorist and author) plus ARM & HAMMER Multi-Cat Strength Litter experts who commissioned the CAT-PANION Crusade Study.
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