Educational Play Helps Keep Cats Stimulated and Happy

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

Educational Play Helps Keep Cats Stimulated and Happy

It may seem like cats are born to nap in the sunshine, only rousing themselves to wash up and have dinner. But most kitties need something more to stay happy and relaxed. They need to safely and nondestructively mimic their hunting instincts, and cat toys can help.

Not only will toys and human interaction provide necessary types of mental stimulation that all pets need, but they also can satisfy cats’ natural instincts of hunting prey—even if that prey is just a shiny, crinkly ball.

Signs of a Bored Cat

Pet parents should keep cats stimulated before their feline friends start to demonstrate signs of boredom. Some examples of this unwanted cat behavior are:


Anxious cats can also cause a lot of destruction around the house. From ripped-up couches and pillows to soiled corners of the carpet, cats looking for action can make their own. To prevent a cat from destroying the house, get proactive. Some cats may also become destructive to get attention and be chased by their pet parents. If a cat is scratching furniture, chewing items, or knocking items off countertops it’s a sign they’re bored and a pet parent should find ways of helping them feel like their wild, hunter cousins.

Fighting Other Animals

A bored cat may turn aggressive with other pets in the household, simply because the interaction allows them to release some of their energy. 

Pet owners sometimes address the symptom of the behavioral issue, rather than the root cause. This means the cat can get negative attention, which can easily become a game, too. 


Some under-stimulated cats make food their pastime. They’ll beg for food constantly, eat rapidly, and look for more. This can result in obesity, which shortens a cat’s life span without effectively managing cat anxiety.


Cats naturally like to be clean—but repeated licking, chewing, or pulling at their fur to the point of irritation could be an indication of frustration. Once an area on the body becomes a “hot spot” of irritation, a pet will naturally want to continue grooming there. It’s a vicious cycle that makes it worse. 

Uninterested in Food

Cats can become depressed when they’re not mentally or emotionally stimulated enough. They may show this by simply not being interested in what they used to enjoy. A bored cat may not want to eat, interact with humans, or do things they used to love. This behavior may also indicate a health issue, so if the apathy at mealtime persists it’s worth checking in with a veterinarian or cat behavioral specialist.

Tips to Keep Cats Stimulated 

To stimulate the brain and body of a feline friend, try the following:

Buy or Make Toys

Cat toys are relatively inexpensive—but it’s also possible to make some shiny, lightweight toys. Make sure the toys don’t have small parts that can be swallowed. Incorporate feathers and fake fur to simulate a natural environment and hunting instinct.

Interact With the Cat

Some cats are happy to play by themselves, but others want to interact with the humans of the household. Play with toys on a long string or let them chase a laser pointer to keep their brain active. Some cats love to hunt or be hunted. Does a game of chase sound like fun? Give it a shot.

Sprinkle Catnip

Cats go crazy for catnip for some interesting reasons. Sometimes a sprinkle is all it takes on a wad of paper or a cardboard box to get a cat happy and active. It vacuums up easily and most cats have favorable reactions to the dried, crushed leaves.

Learn More About How to Take Care of Your Cat

Want to learn more ways to stimulate a bored cat and improve pet behavior? Become a Fuzzy Member and connect with a veterinary support team 24/7 to always find an answer for your cat questions, big or small.  

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