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Cat Behavior – Can Your Cat’s Boredom Lead to Illness?
Imagine being a cat sitting at home all day with the curtains closed with nothing to do and no one to interact with. If you lived in the wild, a cat’s natural behavior would have you looking at birds and insects, wandering, chasing, jumping, hiding, jumping, and happily spending half the day looking for a mouse to eat. You can also defend your territory and flex your muscles. However, indoor cats that don’t get 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 is not what you hoped it would be, it could be because the cat is bored or lonely. Here are some common signs of cat behavior that you may notice.
1. Move small items or items of clothing around the house while you are away.
2. Pulling out hair follicles or obsessive over-grooming.
3. knocking things off worktops.
4. Spraying or squatting to mark the area with urine or feces residue.
5. Expressing in an excessive voice, which most likely conveys that it is boring or lonely.
6. Aggressive behavior or acting out, especially when leaving.
7. Overeating when there is nothing else to do feels comforting.
Boredom and depression can be severe
Boredom can lead to depression in cats. If you let loose for too long, it can also lead to illness and other health challenges for your cat. A lack of exercise and stimulation can lead to unhappiness, weak muscles, a weak immune system, and eventually depression or adrenal stress and disease. In fact, behavioral problems in cats are also the most common reason for euthanasia and abandonment of otherwise healthy animals. DO NOT let your cat miss out or get bored!
Try these healthy cat behavior solutions
- If you only have one cat, consider getting a cat as a cat companion. According to a recent study commissioned by Harris Interactive® and ARM & HAMMER Multi-Cat Strength Cat Litter, animal experts now agree that cats are naturally social and not solitary animals. When asked, more than 8 out of 10 veterinarians agree that cats do NOT want to be alone. (Two cats are almost as easy to care for as one.)
- Offer to play with your cat around the same time every day. Cats love routine. Buy or make toys that simulate hunting, chasing, bouncing, jumping and hiding. Spend 20-30 minutes playing with your cats once or twice a day.
- Book a regular treatment appointment several days a week. Keep brushes, combs and slickers handy. A good time to do this is after your cat has played and used up his frustrated energy because he is ready to be laid back and cuddled.
- Before you leave the house each day, hide some favorite toys and treats. Turn their favorite toys to different places every day. Get a plastic whiffle ball and fill it with healthy treats that 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 free range. Minimize shutdown as much as possible. If you don’t have one yet, get a climbing tree or tower. Vertical space is just as important for a cat’s health as horizontal space is for exercise and dexterity. You may also want to get a cat harness and leash and take your cat outside to explore, enjoy some fresh air and sunshine.
- Make a nice place near the window. Cats love to look out the windows and see birds, insects and many interesting things. If you can place the bird feeder outside the window where the birds are safe and your cat can observe, it will provide your cat with hours of entertainment, mental stimulation and emotional satisfaction.
- Give your cat a scratching machine. This gives them a place to remove the old nail sheaths and gives them a chance to exercise and tone their muscles to stay strong. Scratching also relieves stress, frustration and boredom or helps them “warm up” to playful scratching. But best of all, it gives them a convenient way to mark their territory with the pads on their paws. (This is much better than inappropriate spraying or other marking or furniture damage!)
- Most importantly, feed your cat 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 money in the long run. In addition, cats eat less and get better nutrition. Do all these things and your cat’s health and behavior will become calmer and happier. Chances are, the two of you will also develop a closer bond. SOURCES: Dr. Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, DACVB (a leading veterinary behavioral researcher and author) and ARM & HAMMER Multi-Cat Strength Litter Experts who commissioned the CAT-PANION Crusade Study.
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