Why is my cat climbing the walls?

Why Is My Indoor Cat Climbing the Walls?

Does your cat have sudden bursts of energy that leave them scaling your walls and climbing your doorways? As much as we love our cats, they can sometimes behave in ways that leave us scratching our heads.

While this behavior may seem strange to you, cats with a natural love of heights and pent-up energy will climb just about anything – including your walls.

Read on to learn why your cat may be climbing your walls, and how you can provide your indoor kitty with the mental and physical enrichment they need to keep them from scaling your furniture.

3 Reasons Your Cat Is Climbing the Walls

There are a few different reasons that your cat may be drawn to your walls, but many of them stem back to your cat’s natural instincts and need for stimulation. Here are 3 common reasons why your cat is climbing your walls:

1. Your Cat Has Extra Energy to Burn

Many people think of cats as lazy creatures that love to sleep and lounge all day, but just like dogs, your cat needs dedicated exercise every day. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of daily moderate exercise to keep your kitty happy and healthy.

If your cat hasn’t gotten enough exercise during the day, they likely have too much pent-up energy. Cats will choose many different outlets to burn their extra energy. Some will turn to zoomies throughout your house, others will engage in destructive behaviors, and some will try to climb your walls and furniture.

2. Your Cat Is Bored

Just like physical exercise, your cat needs mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Engaging your cat’s brain helps to burn off extra energy, satisfies their natural instincts, and helps prevent problem behaviors.

According to animal behaviorist Russell Hartstein, without proper mental enrichment, play, and stimulation, your cat can display “maladaptive behaviors and coping mechanisms” like climbing your walls or showing signs of aggression.

3. Climbing Is a Natural Instinct for Your Cat

While your cat’s desire to climb may look strange to us humans, climbing is a natural and normal behavior for a cat to exhibit.

In the wild, cats are both predators and prey. Climbing to higher ground gives them a better vantage point to hunt small, ground-dwelling animals. It also offers the perfect hiding place from their own dangerous predators.

While your home may not be full of hyenas to hide from and birds to chase, your cat still feels naturally safer when they climb.

How to Keep Your Indoor Cat Entertained

While some cat owners may let their cats wander outside freely, that’s not always a safe option, especially for those that live in busy cities, cold climates, or areas with dangerous wildlife.

If your indoor cat’s lack of mental and physical enrichment is leading to unwanted behaviors – like climbing your walls – there are lots of ways you can keep them entertained from the safety of your home. Here are a few ideas:

Provide More Vertical Space

If your cat is already trying to climb, one of the best things you can do is give them more ways to safely climb.

Adding cat trees, shelves, and other perches around your home gives your cat an outlet for their climbing urge, offers fun exercise opportunities, and can help ease any stress or anxiety they may feel.

Placing a cat tree near a window also provides mental enrichment, as they can sit and watch the wildlife outside.

The key is to provide as many interactive elements in your home as possible for your cat to climb on or inside of. This gives them lots of options for play, even when you can’t be home.

Dedicate Time Every Day to Play

In addition to the time they can spend playing on their own, you should set aside at least 30 minutes every day to play with your cat.

The best type of play for your feline friend is one that stimulates their natural hunting instincts. Use toys and wands to mimic the movements of prey and encourage your cat to stalk and hunt the toy.

Cat guru Jackson Galaxy recommends the “boil and simmer” method. This means playing in short bursts, then giving your cat a break to calm down. The process can be repeated several times to tire your cat out both mentally and physically.

It’s also a good idea to try out a few different styles of toys and play tactics to discover what works best for your cat and what gets them the most excited.

Use Puzzle Toys or Interactive Feeders

Mealtime presents the perfect opportunity to add mental enrichment to your cat’s day. While cats love routine feedings and not having to work for their food, they can benefit from a good challenge.

There are a few ways you can help make your cat’s mealtime feel more like a hunt to engage their predator brain. Using puzzle toys, slow feeders, or other interactive feeders will encourage your cat to work for their dinner. This can be more fulfilling for them and helps enrich their day.

You can also play a game with your cat’s food by hiding small amounts of it around the house. Start off small with lots of guidance for your cat, and then increase the difficulty over time until your cat has to “hunt” for their food in new spots every day.

Consider Leash Training Your Cat

If you and your cat are feeling adventurous, but you’re worried that the outside is unsafe, leash training can be a great solution. Just like dogs, cats can be trained to walk politely on a leash.

This opens up many new avenues for daily walks, exploration, and even hikes for your cat’s daily exercise. Just make sure to take things slowly at first and give your cat plenty of time to get used to their new harness and leash.

Is My Cat’s Climbing Behavior Normal?

Even though your cat’s desire to climb your walls can be frustrating, the good news is that it’s a normal behavior. With a little more exercise, playtime, and attention every day, your cat will have other, healthier outlets for their energy.

If your cat has recently started climbing your walls and they’re displaying other changes in their behavior, it’s always best to check in with your veterinarian. This will rule out any potential medical causes that could be behind the sudden change. In most cases, though, a little extra mental stimulation is all it takes to help your cat feel more relaxed and content in their home.