If you have ever had young children, then you will know this scenario from painful experience...you’re excited because you’ve bought them that expensive present you thought they’ve always wanted, only to realize you should have saved your money: they’re having way more fun playing with the box, thank you very much! Well, as a mother of three children and two cats, it’s always struck me that it’s rather the same for both. You’ve been preparing to bring home your new kitten for weeks – you’ve bought the cat tree, litter tray, food bowl and all the necessities and you’ve also splashed out on a car load of cat toys, only to find they’re not really interested in any of them. However, give your cat a cardboard box, and it’ll keep them amused for hours. C’est la vie! My advice to you is to save your money because those toys aren’t needed: you’ll find plenty to amuse your playful pet around your home.
If you have an indoor cat and they start meowing a lot and start showing boredom by trying to grab you attention by biting, for example, then they may be bored. Cats, like humans, need to keep themselves entertained and have some stimulation. This is especially true of a particularly athletic breed like my Bengal, Arthur, who is always looking for something to keep him stimulated. Arthur’s favorite past time is chasing and pushing a piece of plastic around our kitchen – (discarded from an old cardboard carton which contained gravy granules) - providing him with hours of entertainment.
Here’s a list of simple household objects that you’ll find lying around that may be insignificant to you, but to your furry friend will mean fun and games:
- Cardboard box
- Paper bags
- Plastic bags
- Plastic wrappers
- Bottle caps
- Elastic bands
- Hair ties
- Nerf gun bullets
Ensure you supervise your feline to ensure they don’t accidentally ingest any of the items. I know you’ll be reading that last one on the list: nerf gun bullets? I have three boys, and so I have a box of these foam projectiles at home, and my cat loves it when I sit at the top of the stairs and throw these pellets down for him to catch. It also gives me a lot of pleasure to see him diving and jumping to try and catch these missives – it can be quite comical to watch.
Cats are natural predators and have a need to exercise their instinct, so another idea to keep them amused is to hide some treats around the house for them to find, such as under the TV stand, cupboard or inside the cat tree. (Don’t forget where you’ve hidden them, in case they don’t find and eat them!) Switch it up with those places you choose to hide the treats to keep it interesting. This is a great way for them to expend some excess energy and relieve any stress or boredom.
Have you heard of cat TV? If not, type it in to YouTube and check it out. If your cat is unwell, recovering from an operation, is stressed from a house move, pestering you for attention when you just don’t have the time, or bored, bored, bored then check it out. Cat TV makes for stimulating feline viewing of birds and squirrels etc. If it’s a particularly cold or rainy day, I’ll put this on for my two cats, and it’s so amusing to see them trying to paw at the screen to try and catch those little critters hopping about on the screen. Oftentimes, they’ll walk behind the television to investigate where they are actually hiding! The sound and movement will keep them captivated, leaving you free to get on with what you need to do.
If you think you have the patience, time and temperament for it, here’s an idea you may not have thought of...why not try clicker training your cat to learn certain tricks such as “sit”, “high five” or “up”. Not only is this a fun way to relieve boredom and tension, it’s also an extremely rewarding way to learn to communicate verbally and through hand gestures with you furry friend. A fantastic website for you to learn clicker training together through YouTube tutorials and online platforms is CatSchool. It really is worth visiting. CatSchool’s mission is to, “help cat lovers teach their cats fun and practical skills to increase activity, improve behavior and strengthen the cat-human bond.” They provide a clicker training tool kit, and all there are all sorts of benefits to learning how to clicker train, including showing you how to stop any unwanted behaviors.
To stimulate your cat’s five senses and make sure they’re kept entertained and expend energy, the possibilities are endless. All you need is a little imagination and creativity, and any ordinary item lying around your home could become the next big thing. In the early days of owning cats I used to buy various toys for them, only to discover that this isn’t always what they want. The most important resource is a little thought on your part and your attention. Don’t lose sight of the fact that the goal here is for both of you to have fun and you’ll be rewarded with a greater bond as a result.