5 Signs Your Cat Is Bored Out of Their Mind & How You Can Help

by Monika
5 Signs That Your Cat is Bored

Believe it or not, cats are often bored just like us humans, although they don’t make it as obvious. Most adult cats will spend an average of around 15 hours a day just napping, so it can be pretty tricky to figure out if your feline friend is going about their usual routine or is actually bored out of their mind.

So how can you tell the difference? And how can you help? In this post, you’ll read about the 5 signs that indicate your cat is bored, and what you can do to help.

Is your cat bored? 5 signs of kitty boredom

First thing first, I want to clarify that if your cat started to act differently than usual and you are worried about them, it is best to first check with the vet. If the kitty is healthy, then it could be that your cat is bored which caused their behavior to change. Maybe they just need something more in their life to entertain them and keep them occupied.

Keep in mind that, while all of these are signs of boredom, boredom doesn’t necessarily have to be the reason. Just like us humans, 100 cats have 100 different personalities so some cats might do the following things because they are lonely, or they don’t like the other cat or they have a separation anxiety etc. But boredom is also a common reason for this type of behavior. So keep on reading and check if your cat might be bored.

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#1 Messing up the house and picking fights

This is one of the most notorious cat behaviors out there. You know how it goes:

  • scattering shredded toilet paper everywhere,
  • scratching furniture (even if they have a scratch post),
  • knocking stuff down from shelves,
  • pouncing on lamps,
  • chasing other pets around and fighting with them.

Most of the time, this is just your kitty’s way of showing that they need some stimulating activity – and probably some company too.

When you go around cleaning up their mess, the cats actually see that as spending time together, and in their heads, that makes all the damage worthwhile. A lot of cat owners just get angry, without ever realizing that the pet is just asking their human to give them some loving attention.

#2 Eating too much or too little

Just like people, cats sometimes deal with boredom by changing their mealtime habits. They might start eating too much just to have something to do, or they completely ignore their food, because even that is way too boring.

You can try and prevent this by keeping your kitty’s diet diverse (maybe ask your vet for a recommendation), and ensuring it has some kind of indoor activity if you don’t have an outdoor condo for them to walk or play in.

Do keep an eye on how the cat behaves around their food bowl because improper eating can damage your pet’s health.

#3 Excessive grooming or shedding more than usual

Excessive grooming - one of the 5 signs that your cat is bored

Now, we all know cats like to keep their glossy coats all lickety-split. However, some cats can become terribly nervous when they’re bored, especially if they’re left alone a lot, and this extra stress then makes their hair fall out much more than it usually does.

These cats might also groom themselves more intensely, even ripping out wisps of their own fur, which in turn just makes them groom even more.

So, if you notice your pet has started spending lots of time on their aesthetic, it might be a sign that their mood has dropped down into the dumps. A great way of dealing with cats who show this kind of behavior is making grooming time a way of bonding with your pet.

Just like people brush and style their dogs, the same can work for cats. Well, maybe skip the bubble bath and tail braiding, but spending a little time every day on brushing your kitty will give it caring attention, keep their fur healthy and beautiful, and collect some of that pesky cat hair which keeps flying all over the place.

#4 Not using the litter box

If you start to notice that your feline poops or pees around the house, even though they were usually good at doing their business in the litter box, it might be your cat’s way of telling you that they are not getting enough attention and that they are bored. But, it is important to first rule out any potential medical issue that could cause this behavior. Only if there is nothing wrong with your feline healthwise, then you can consider boredom being the cause of this kind of behavior.

It is possible that your cat is so stressed from being bored all the time that they develop behavioral issues such as not using the kitty toilet.

If your cat suddenly stopped using their litter box, you might want to check out my other post about the common reasons for not using the litter box and potential solutions.

#5 Being lethargic or being loud

Cat being lethargic - one of the 5 signs that your cat might be bored

Okay, so cats spend a lot of time on napping, and come on – who wouldn’t, right? Adult cats in particular are not as energetic as kittens and tend to prefer to spend their time looking for a sunny spot or going for a leisurely stroll around the house. That’s why it can be pretty hard to notice that something’s wrong, but believe it or not, cats can get depressed!

Even a big-time elderly napper has its hours of awake time, and adult cats like to play occasionally, too. So, if your furry friend starts being inactive even when it would usually sniff around, they might have had enough of their monotonous routine.

Signs in this case are:

  • the cat sitting and staring into space for a long time,
  • being listless,
  • or ignoring its food and toys.

Another common behavior in bored cats is meowing like crazy.

A bored cat might meow often and loudly, and for a fairly long time. It’s their way of attracting attention and amusing themselves, kind of like when little kids randomly sing and dance for lack of anything interesting to do.

How to help your bored cat

Luckily, there are so many things you can do and ways to entertain your bored cat, that you shouldn’t have a problem making your cat one happy and active kitty once again.

Take a look at my list of 50 ways to entertain your cat and you’ll surely find new fun activities that will help your cat get out of the boredom cycle. These DIY cat toys might also help.

If none of this works and you kitty still seems uninterested and bored, you can always ask your vet for advice.

Does your cat seem bored from time to time?

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31 comments

Joele February 14, 2018 - 2:32 pm

I don’t have cats myself, but I really appreciate this info in case I ever do adopt a cat! Just like dogs, cats get bored and that can lead to depression. Great reminder for any pet owners: have fun with your pets!

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 9:08 am

That’s so true. If this issue is not dealt with, it can lead to depression, so we have to stop the kitty boredom in its roots before it gets too far.

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kelly February 14, 2018 - 3:40 pm

Stimulation and exercise are so important to our pets. We have to be sure that when our pets are displaying some of these actions that they are indeed from boredom and not due to health issues.

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Sonja of Montecristo Travels February 14, 2018 - 4:11 pm

Just like dogs … makes sense that cats would get bored. I saw a great product once that creates a “climbing wall” for cats … I thought it was amazing and a great chance for indoor cats to be active. When I had cats (4 of them) I use to try and play as much with them as I could – the later pointer was always a favourite.

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 9:06 am

The one and only laser pointer. That one is a classic 🙂

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Debbie February 14, 2018 - 4:39 pm

This is great information. All too often, cat owners don’t pay enough attention to the mental and psychological needs of their feline companions. Our cat goes outside on adventures, so she is usually a nice, tired, fulfilled cat at the end of the day. The only time she gets bored is when it’s really cold or been raining for a few days. When that happens, we bring out new cat toys and Jasmine’s favorite cat wand for some extra playtime 🙂

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Debi @ RescueDogs101 February 14, 2018 - 5:24 pm

What a great resource. I think many people don’t realize they need to entertain their cats. We haven’t had a cat in many years since I have become allergic in my adult years, but I remember our last cat was a lot of fun to play with.

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Amy Shojai, CABC February 14, 2018 - 5:40 pm

Great ideas and information! Thanks for sharing the tips sheet, too, that’s always helpful. My cat loves to watch the birds and bunnies out the window (kitty TV!), but interactive games are his favorite to beat boredom.

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 9:04 am

Yeah, interactive toys are great at keeping cats entertained!

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Kamira Gayle February 14, 2018 - 7:01 pm

Hmm I didn’t know excessive grooming could indicate boredom. However I can definitely testify to my cats experiencing “zoomies” or meowing like crazy for attention and playtime. Also the classic knocking over stuff off the counter or table let me know. ‘ Hello mom…I’m bored. Play with me!”

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 9:04 am

It’s great that your cat can communicate it to you so easily so you imediately know what your cat wants 🙂

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The Dash Kitten Crew February 14, 2018 - 7:54 pm

This is a massive issue for (mostly) indoor cats. This does not seem to be such a major issue here in NZ where we have a lot more garden/outdoor active cats. This is a terrific post for anyone who suspects their cat is NOT getting enough ‘enrichment’ and entertainment – something every cat needs,

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 9:02 am

Yes, this is mostly an issue with indoor only cats. In Croatia (Europe), it is common to let your cat go outside if you live in the suburbs like I do, so cats can entertain themselves easily. But for indoor cats, we have to help keep them entertained 🙂

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Joely Smith February 14, 2018 - 10:40 pm

Thank you so much. It is always good to know what to look out for! Luckily, right now, my cats seem happy as they are not displaying any of these signs. WHEW! Here’s to happy cats!

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 8:59 am

I am glad to hear that. Happy kitties!

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Chirpy Cats February 15, 2018 - 4:21 am

I love posts on cat enrichment and there can never be enough of them! My high energy cat, Baggy, will certainly let me know when I’ve been neglecting my kitty exercise/entertainment duties when I see he’s been using the kitty treadmill (known to us humans as toilet paper rolls)! Yes, time to get out Da Bird!

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 8:55 am

I love writing about cat enrichment 🙂 I want all indoor cats to have rich and fun lives 🙂

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Sweet Purrfections February 15, 2018 - 4:48 am

Great blog post. I always thought it was okay for my cats to lay around all the time because my previous cats never acted like they were bored. Once I got two cats, I realized they needed entertainment. I learned a lot watching Jackson Galaxy on My Cat from Hell. I can always tell when Truffle is bored because she tends to pick a fight with Brulee.

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Monika February 15, 2018 - 8:53 am

I heard about that show but it was never aired on tv in my country in Europe. It sounds interesting, I’ll try to watch it online!

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paroma Chakravarty February 15, 2018 - 7:38 pm

I don’t have a cat but depression or boredom is common in dogs and cats. They definitely need to be kept active and stimulated. With dogs, it is probably slightly easier since we can take them out for walks. thank you for tips for cats to stay active mentally as well.

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Carol A Graydon December 27, 2018 - 11:30 am

Yes I very much like what you have to say about Cats being bored out of there brain as I my self have a ten year old Liac Siamese that I truly love to peace’s & she dose sit & staring into space or at me for long time & she dose have her moments of ignoring her food she will walk up to it just look at it then walk a way & toys well she has so many toys she use to play with a little 🧸 Teddy she would fetch it theni’d through on to the couch & she would go & bring it back to you but not any more all that she wants to do now is sleep all the time I must say that she is on medication ( Fluoxetine Tab 20mg ) a 1/4 every second day & Inisolone Tab the Same 1/4 every secondary & i’m Wondering if this is making her lazy & sleey all the time i’d Love to know what you think about my Jenni -Leigh D O B is the 26/6/07 with many thanks & kind regards Carol Graydon

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Monika January 4, 2019 - 7:18 pm

Hi, I am no vet but as far as I know Fluoxetine is meant to make your cat feel calm. So it’s possible that the medicine is making her sleepy and less active than usual. Why does she have to take Fluoxetine, if I may ask?

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Janne March 24, 2019 - 9:00 am

I’ve read that in America it’s seen as cruel to let cats outside in case of accidents etc. I live in the U.K. and we mostly let out cats outside. I think it’s cruel to stop cats from living as cats. Mine have a cat flap for free access, a toilet spot in the garden just for them, and there’s nothing nicer than seeing them chase leaves, butterflies stretching out in the sunshine (when we get it) and watching fish in the pond. Thankfully they don’t bother catching birds tho they like to watch them though they do bring in mice just to play. One of my cats did get hit by a car and it was traumatic but she’s alive and well and still living a free life. Of course I worry when I see them in the lane but I would rather they have a short happy life than a long life missing out . They have their toys indoors mainly for winter use when they choose to stay in at times and they love their cuddles but it’s all their choice.

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Monika March 24, 2019 - 10:51 am

Yes, it’s a big difference here in Europe and in the USA. I often get judged from people who think letting a cat outside is cruel but, after all, cats are a lot happier when allowed outside. I understand that people live in different conditions and not everyone is able to let their cats go out and that is fine. But considering that I live in a really safe area without coyotes and owls that they have in America, I don’t see why I should take outdoor time away from my cat who loves being outside during the day. When I see how my Okica enjoys playing in the garden and how much she enjoys her outdoor/indoor life, I know I am making the best decision for her.

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Catharina May 9, 2019 - 12:30 pm

I Live in South Africa and have three female cats and they in out the house all day long and are very happy well adjusted felines. They have scratching posts inside and outside and have never damaged my furniture. At night they come in at about 8 pm to come and sleep and don’t go outside again until next morning

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Monika May 9, 2019 - 1:48 pm

It sounds like your cats are very happy and don’t have a problem with boredom 🙂

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Thomas May 20, 2019 - 4:10 am

Being a fresh cat owner, I find it very informative and useful suggestions . Thank you. Best regards.

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Monika May 20, 2019 - 9:31 am

I’m glad I could help 🙂 Thank you for your nice comment, it means a lot!

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Karen June 2, 2020 - 7:41 am

I’m looking forward to trying some of the activities on the 50 list. One of my cats in particular is easily bored. They’re both indoor cats but have access to multiple windows, all with views where the can see birds and other things. They have multiple cat trees, lots of toys- which they are bored with even though these get rotated. They’re now even bored with the da Bird toys! I’m constantly buying new toys, mainly interactive because they’ve given up playing on their own, especially now I’m working from home. I play with them for 10-20 minutes 2-3 times a day. They get brushed, patted and cuddled.. Yet still they get bored! They won’t watch cat TV or video games, and I’m running out of ways to keep them occupied. Both are around 2 years old, so maybe they’ll calm down a bit? All my previous cats were older when I adopted them so this is a new experience.

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Monika June 3, 2020 - 3:34 pm

You have some really active kitties 🙂 Two years old is still young so they probably won’t calm down a lot yet but they might not be as playful as when they were kittens. All you can do is try to keep them occupied with toys and by playing with them, but it is their nature to be a bit crazy and that will go away when they get a bit older. Maybe a catio would help if you have that option in your home.

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Karen June 2, 2020 - 7:50 am

Also, I live in Australia where domestic cats have been identified as major killers of wildlife, so we are being encouraged to keep cats indoors. Also, both my guys have no teeth. When they were rescued, their teeth were so decayed they couldn’t eat, so the vet removed them. There are some feral cats in my area so it’s dangerous for them to be outside where they o my have claws to defend themselves big attacked. I’m thinking of a cat run but those are very expensive here.

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