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Is Your Cat Suffering from Boredom? Here’s How to Fight It. 

beautiful cat staring

Have you ever left your home in the morning, looked back to say goodbye to your cat, and wondered what she did all day when you were gone? The answer is probably less interesting than you hoped: cats sleep for two-thirds of the day, so she’s most likely snoozing for the majority of your absence. But what about the other third of the time? And what is she doing while you sleep?

If your kitty is like most felines, she may be getting bored. This is especially true if your cat is indoors only, and even more so if he or she is an only cat. Cats are natural hunters, and though they spend the majority of their time asleep, they need to spend their waking hours pursuing normal, cat-like behaviors, including chasing, stalking, and catching. Most homes today don’t provide the necessary stimulation for our feline friends. This leads to boredom. And a bored cat is often a depressed and destructive one. Luckily, there are easy ways to relieve your cat’s boredom and keep her in fighting shape, even when she’s alone.

Is Your Cat Bored?

There are a few sure signs that your cat is bored at home, which can lead to depression and anxiety problems. While every cat needs stimulation, looks for these warning signs that your friend is breaking under the stress of boredom:

–   Destroying your furniture? Cats need something to play with, something to exercise on, and something to scratch. If you don’t provide these things, your cat will make his own toys and scratching posts out of your couches, chairs, and any fragile items you’ve placed on a high, non-cat-proof shelf.

–   Skipping the litter box? This can be caused by lots of problems, and a cat who’s not using the litter box should start by visiting the vet to rule out medical problems. But, if health isn’t the issue, and the litter boxes are clean, it’s time to start thinking psychologically. Cats can’t communicate with us easily. Sometimes the only way to get humans to hear “I’m frustrated!” may be to relieve yourself on their shoes.

–   Over-grooming? When things get really bad, cats take the pressure out on themselves. Similar to humans who cope with stress by engaging in self-destructive behavior, over-grooming usually originates from severe anxiety and unhappiness. This may warrant a trip to the vet, but often relieving the boredom will relieve the stress and stop the behavior.

–   Sudden whirlwind bursts of running around the house? This is one of the more harmless signs that your cat is bored. All cats need a certain level of activity to be satisfied and healthy. If you don’t provide that activity level with appropriate play time, your cat is left a ball of energy. And what do balls of energy do? They bounce around! While running back and forth isn’t dangerous, it’s an early indicator that your cat needs more stimulation and play.

How Can You Relieve Your Cat’s Boredom?

The easy answer to this is to let your cat spend some time outside, where she can exercise her natural instincts. However, this is often impossible, especially for urban cats where the outside world can be too dangerous. Outdoor cats are more likely to be killed by cars, and sometimes they do damage to neighbors gardens or wild birds, although a bell collar can help with the latter. Luckily, there are ways to relieve your cat’s boredom without putting him in any danger.

Provide Climbing Structures

These don’t have to be expensive, specially made “cat trees.” Cats aren’t picky! A high bookshelf with a cat bed on top, a tall stool, or even a series of smaller shelves arranged on the wall will work. The important thing is to keep surfaces that you want your cat to use clear of decorations or anything breakable. You can introduce your cat to these structures by sprinkling catnip on them: he’ll get the message. You can also build a fancier cat structure with scrap wood and carpet samples if you’re feeling ambitious. The important thing is to create a structure your cat can climb, leap from, and run to.

Offer Creative Cat Toys

Many cat toys, like the beloved fishing poles and yarn,  need a person to operate them. Other cat toys rely on catnip to get your kitty’s attention, which wears thin after about 10 minutes. However, there are cat toys that your can buy or make that will actually entertain your cat while you’re away. Some of these are battery operated, offering a moving target that your cat can chase. But there are also ingenious, inexpensive cat toys that you can make for yourself. A simple empty roll of toilet paper can turn into a rolling ball, a hidden treat holder, or a puzzle only your kitty can solve. The goal is to keep your cat’s body and mind working.

Consider a Catio, or Bring Nature Inside

If you’re lucky enough to have access to the outdoors, consider building a simplified “catio,” a patio designed for cats. There are easy-to-follow tutorials online if you’d like to build it yourself, and the materials usually aren’t too expensive. A catio allows your cat to spend time outdoors without risk to himself or others. If that’s not an option, try to bring a little bit of nature indoors. Offer a flower box filled with cat grass for your cat to snack on. Provide a variety of textures on the floor and on climbing surfaces, such as astroturf, straw mats, or corkboard. Offer running water in a special cat bowl to simulate a natural water source. You can even play a CD of nature sounds to complete the effect. Your cat may not be able to live in the jungle, but you can recreate the ambiance of nature at home.

Think Twice Before Bringing Home Another Cat

You may have heard the advice that the easiest way to cure your cat’s boredom is to bring home another cat. It’s true that, when two cats get along, they are happier and healthier than being alone. Additional cats provide companionship and play for your friend while you’re away. That said, there is no guarantee that your new cat and your old cat will get along. If they don’t, you may go from a cat that’s bored to a cat that’s hostile, aggressive, and miserable. How can you tell if your cat wants a friend? Talk to your local shelter about your concerns. Often the volunteers at cat shelters know their resident’s personalities very well. They can recommend a suitable companion for your kitty and hopefully avoid clashing personalities. You may even be able to bring your cat to the shelter, so he can meet new acquaintances in a neutral setting. Getting an additional cat can be a perfect solution to your cat’s boredom, but only if done correctly.

Finally, the most important thing you can do for your cat is simply to care. Play with him when you are home, and give him lots of attention and affection. Make your home a welcoming, fun, and safe place for her while you’re away. Your cat will reward your efforts with a lifetime of purrs, snuggles, and headbutts. After all, life with cats is never really boring.

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What Declawing your Cat Really Means

If you’ve ever had a cat, then you understand the problems that can come with owning one. There times when they spray or use the bathroom in areas they’re not supposed to, they will chew on small things, get into everything in your house, and sometimes even claw up your nice Furniture. In spite of all of these issues, nothing beats that cozy feeling when you cuddle up with your favorite fur ball. Cats are one of our favorite pets, and it’s pretty easy to see why. They are incredibly independent, and fairly easy to house train. They’re good at caring for themselves, and really ask very little of their owners.

Many people used to believe that a natural part of caring for your cat was having its claws taken out. This was a surgical procedure that made it so that your cat no longer had the claws within its paws and couldn’t scratch or tear up any of your furniture. People also believe that this helped to deter aggressive behaviors, and stopped cats from scratching people or other animals within their homes. So much of this has turned out to be misled. There are extremely good reasons for not declawing your cat.

There are also alternative treatments to removing the claws. There are different things that you can do to stop your cat from tearing up your house while still allowing him to have his or her fingers. You can consider a scratching post that your cat will actually enjoy a lot more than your furniture or your knee. There are also sprays and other cat scratch deterrents that can be used to minimize damage and to help control your cat’s Behavior. Cats are not untrainable, and being consistent with them can be a huge help. These are just a few of the things that actually happen when you decide to remove your cat’s claws for good:

It’s More Than Clipping Nails

Imagine having each one of your fingers and toes cut off at the first joint in order to get rid of your nails. This is almost exactly the same thing that you’re doing to your cat when you take it in to have its claws surgically removed. Not only is this painful, it also makes it difficult for the cat to react in natural ways. It’s no longer able to scrape off the dead skin from its paws, or to defend itself if it gets into a bad situation. Cats don’t use their claws to be mean or aggressive for the most part. Taking them away simply because they ruin a good piece of furniture, is tantamount to animal abuse. Over the last few years, people have really begun to discover exactly what declawing means to a cat, and most vets are now saying that it’s not a good thing to do. There are enough alternatives to declawing that there really isn’t a reason to do it unless there’s some sort of medical condition.

It Causes Life Long Pain

Cats don’t show discomfort the same way that human beings do. They will rarely limp or behave poorly if they’re feeling bad. For the most part once this procedure is done, they are in for a lifetime of pain every time they take a step. If you can imagine doctor induced arthritis, then you might be able to understand a portion of what your cat will be going through. They’re not going to tell you that they’re in pain. They are simply going to continue to walk around and try to behave normally for the rest of their lives.

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Cats Behaving Badly: A Guide to Destructive Feline Behaviors

Cats have been domesticated since the dawn of civilization.  They’ve been worshipped, owned, traded, bred, and killed over the course of human existence.  In short- they’ve always been a part of us, and they still very much are.  Housecats are one of the most popular pets in the world.  They’re easy to train, small enough to house, and independent enough to spare your attention.

They seem like the perfect pet, right?  Maybe not.  Tell that to the tattered corner or your couch, or your urine soaked mattress.  There’s nothing more frustrating that doing everything right, and having everything go horribly and disgustingly wrong. 

You’ve taken perfect care of your sweet fuzzy housecat.  He’s had his shots, been fixed, is well-fed, and has a regular bevy of household admirers.  In other words, he has no reason to be unhappy.  One evening he hops up on your lap, purring like a revved up engine, and being as sweet as any cat can possibly be.  You start to pet him, congratulating yourself on being such a fabulous pet owner- and that’s when you feel it.  The warm spray hitting your chest and bouncing up to mist your hair.  The feral fur-ball is spraying all over you and your thousand-dollar mattress.  You can put up with a cat scratching the couch, but this- this is taking it too far! 

No, your cat’s not possessed- he’s just trying to tell you something. Unfortunately, he’s using his pee to do it.  Here’s a very basic guide to some very disruptive feline behaviors:

Scratching

Those ragged corners of your couch, or that bare spot on your favorite carpet aren’t there because your cat is angry or trying to upset you.  In fact, it’s not about you at all.  Your cat’s claws are necessary to their survival (because Fluffy’s so fierce), and they need to keep them in shape.  Just like you clip your nails, a cat needs to remove the dead skin from around their claws. 

Scratching helps keep their claws sharp, and helps to establish their territory.  Cats actually have scent glands in their paws, and they use these to take ownership of parts of your home.  If this is a problem, try getting them a scratching post.  You may have to get several different models before you find one that your kitty will choose over your couch.

Sharing their Kill

If you’ve ever woke up to find a mouse carcass sharing your pillow- don’t worry, it’s not the mafia.  It’s just your cat’s way of telling you how much they love you.  Cats associate food with survival.  You feed them, and they may be trying to feed you in return.  It’s their way of saying, “Hey, I want you to live”.  That’s about as sentimental as a cat can get.  So, dispose of the “offering”, clean your pillow- and pet your feline companion a little bit more than usual. 

Ignoring the Litter Box

It can be really distressing to discover that your cat’s been using your laundry pile as their personal bathroom.  Cat urine is notoriously strong smelling, and difficult to get out of pretty much everything.  Their feces isn’t much better, and can cause infection. 

This can be a sign of a urinary tract infection, and can signal a need to get your cat to the vet.  If a UTI isn’t the culprit, you may need to clean the litter box more frequently.  Or, change the litter box altogether.  Having options can help.

If a cat is fixed and still spraying, then it may be due to psychological issues.  Try to identify any major changes, and try to make your cat feel more secure.

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A Quick and Cheap Scratching Post Your Cat Will Love

cat scratching post

Scratching posts are a great idea, at least in principle. Give your cat a place to expend all that destructive energy, and save your furniture! Unfortunately, many cats are unsurprisingly persnickety, and more often than not after a first inspection your fancy new scratching post will never again rate so much as a glance. How can you convince your oh so discerning feline to actually use what you provide?

Cats scratch away at whatever is available to them in order to clean and sharpen their claws, an instinctive behavior they will engage in no matter how much you discourage them. It’s all well and good to tell them no when they have a go at your couch, but unless you provide them an alternative, it’s unlikely to stick. That alternative needs to be at least as good as your furniture if you want it to see use.

3 Key Elements of a Successful Scratching Post

Cats look for three things in their scratching spots: stability, size, and texture, and the generic posts you can buy at any pet store fail two out of three of these considerations. If you’ve ever really watched your cat sharpening their claws, you know they put their full backs into it, and all but the most solid of posts will wobble or even tip over under this treatment, especially for larger cats. Cats also like to reach up high and dig in with both claws at once, and most posts are a bit too short and too narrow for this treatment.

A quick look at on-line source will reveal an enormous number of plans for homemade scratching posts, of varying quality, and many do work quite well. If that’s your preferred route, look for one of the larger, heavier models. There is, however, an easier, cheaper option. You almost certainly have any number of surfaces in your house that meet the size and stability requirements, but are only missing the third consideration, texture, and this can be quickly fixed.

First you need your texture. If you happen to have any old pieces of shag carpeting lying around, those work well, but otherwise a well-textured sisal or fabric welcome mat is perfect in both size and material, and should be available for about ten or fifteen dollars at any home goods or hardware store.

Next you need a surface. An out of the way door frame is probably the best spot, but any really solid location will do. If you do use a door frame, it’s just a matter of wrapping the mat or carpeting around the bottom corner of the frame, and fixing it in place with a staple gun or small tacks. Running it lengthwise up from the floor will create a surface tall and wide enough for any cat, and pulled tight and stapled securely it will be as solid as your house itself. Don’t worry too much about damage, the tiny holes the staples leave can easily be fixed with paint alone, and even tacks will only require a swipe of filler. Now just introduce your cat to their new post, and hope they take the hint!

Quick Results

For less than twenty dollars and five minutes of work you can have a rock solid, easily replaced scratching spot that will hopefully have your cat turning up their nose at the inferior option provided by your furniture, rather than the other way around.

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