NINE LIVES By Stacy N. Hackett
When we first adopted Jack, our red tabby, our lifestyle allowed us to be home with him every afternoon and evening. We lavished him with
attention, engaged him in play with interactive toys, tossed
lightweight balls down a short flight of stairs so he could
bound down to retrieve them, and snuggled with him on
the couch. Jack grew used to sleeping at the ends of our
beds, changing his location based on his whims.
As my children grew older and participated in more
extracurricular activities, and I took a full-time job with a
long commute, we had less time to spend with Jack. He
started scratching inappropriately and grooming himself
much more, leading me to find an increased number of
hairballs around the house.
It turned out that Jack ( 4 years old at the time) showed
classic symptoms of boredom. “Under-stimulated cats are
at risk of developing boredom-related or stress-relieving
behaviors, such as over-grooming, chewing inappropriate
items, picking on companion pets, retreating into isolation,
overeating, self-mutilation, compulsive behavior, and loss
of appetite,” explained Pam Johnson-bennett, certified cat
behaviorist and owner of Cat behavior Associates (cat
Pam said that cats are made to be active. There are so
many facts about your cat’s body that enable her to have
incredible speed, stealth, and accuracy, she said. “Imagine
having all that equipment, and it never gets used. That’s the
way it is for many cats.”
In Jack’s case, we added another cat to our household so
he would have someone to run around with while we were
away most of the day. “Having a buddy can make a huge
difference when it comes to enriching a cat’s life,” Pam said.
And Jack has benefitted greatly from his companionship with
Phillip, who we adopted as a kitten.
Phillip also benefitted
from Jack’s companion-
ship, as even kittens need
to be healthy and happy.
“you want to make sure
that environment is
filled with stimulation,
fun, and security and
comfort,” Pam said.
socializing a kitten
with a variety of
people, sounds, and
experiences to help
the kitten handle
changes and intro-
ductions to new people as she grows older.
don’t worry: If your kitten is hesitant with new peo-
ple or new situations, it’s likely because she is still getting
used to everything, especially when you first bring her home.
“Keep in mind that your home environment is unfamiliar
and big,” Pam said. “That’s a lot for a little kitten to adjust to
Be concerned: If your kitten seems listless or completely uninterested in her surroundings, take her to the vet
as soon as possible.
Life can seem infinitely interesting to a kitten who discovers
new things all the time. Adult cats may soon run out of inter-
esting things to investigate. And that’s when boredom can set
in. Fortunately, there are many ways to make life interesting