Posted by camille arneberg on

Clingy Cat Behavior: Why It Happens & How to Address It

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Cats are known for their independence. They’re great at keeping themselves clean; they use the litter box on their own; most of the time, they can even manage their own meal portions. 

That said, sometimes cats can act particularly needy and clingy. If you’ve got a classic case of “velcro cat,” read on for some possible reasons behind this change in behavior and how to address it. 

Signs of a Clingy Cat

Cats tend to appreciate affection, but only on their own terms. As any cat owner knows, the key to perfect cat cuddles is waiting for the cat to make the first move. 

It’s normal to feel flattered when your cat wants to be close to you, but it’s important to understand the difference between typical cat behavior and problematic clingy cat behavior. 

Signs your cat is overly clingy include: 

  • Following you everywhere… even to the bathroom. (Basically, you have a cat-shaped shadow!)

  • Meowing loudly or scratching against the door when she’s not able to be in the same room as you.

  • Sulking or hiding when you’re getting ready to leave the house.

  • Frequently rubbing against you, or wanting to be on you while you’re sitting or lying down.

  • Sitting on objects that you’re using (like your phone); demanding your attention anytime you’re focused on something or someone else.

  • Refusing to eat or drink unless you’re nearby. 

Reasons for Clingy Cat Behavior

If your kitty has been clinging to you usual, you may want to take it as a compliment—but it’s important to first rule out potential problems that could be contributing to this change in behavior. 

Common reasons for cat clinginess include: 

  • Personality. Some cats are simply more affectionate and extroverted, or “dog-like,” by nature. Breeds such as Siamese and Abyssinian are especially known for their clingy personalities.

  • Health Issues. While many cats tend to instinctively hide any signs of discomfort, it’s possible that your kitty is looking to you for help. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to contact your vet anytime you notice any sudden changes in behavior or appearance.

  • Separation Anxiety. Feline separation anxiety can vary in severity, but the root of the issue remains the same: your cat feels scared or anxious anytime she’s separated from a loved one. Separation anxiety can occur for a variety of reasons but is especially common in cats who were prematurely weaned or separated from their mother and littermates.

  • Stress/Insecurity. Your cat may become clingy as a result of stress, insecurity, or generalized anxiety. This could be caused by a significant change in routine, the addition or loss of a household member, an unfamiliar visitor, or loud noises, to name a few.

  • Jealousy. Maybe you’ve recently brought home another pet, or maybe you’re spending a lot of time on your phone or computer. Whatever the reason, your cat may become excessively clingy if she feels that she’s not being prioritized.

  • Emotional Support. If your cat senses that you’re going through a tough time, she may become extra affectionate as a means of comforting you.

  • Boredom. Simply put: your cat is bored and wants more stimulation!

  • Lack of Training. If you aren’t enforcing boundaries with your kitty, you’re inadvertently teaching her that she can and will get attention from you whenever she wants it. As a result, she’ll continue demanding your attention, even when you’re clearly occupied.

How to Reduce Your Cat’s Clinginess

Some pet parents have no problem with their overly affectionate kitties.  Sometimes, though, clingy cat behavior can be incredibly disruptive and frustrating. In order to successfully address your cat’s clinginess, you need to understand the reason behind it. 

Some ways to reduce your cat’s clinginess include: 

  • Going to the vet. In order to rule out any underlying health issues, this should be the first course of action anytime you notice any changes in appearance or behavior in your pet.

  • Giving your cat more attention. This may seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to teach your cat to be more independent, but trust us—if you regularly give your cat sufficient, predictable attention, she’s less likely to feel as desperate for your affection the rest of the time. Try to set aside at least two 15-minute increments each day to play with your cat using toys such as wands and lasers.

  • Providing more stimulation. In addition to cuddles and pets, it’s also important to provide your pet with enriching activities for both mental and physical stimulation. In addition to scratchers and regular toys, you may also want to invest in some puzzle toys or feeders to keep her busy.

  • Discouraging bad behavior (and reinforcing good behavior). Negative attention is still attention, so try to ignore any scratching or destructive behavior so your cat knows it’s not a viable method of getting your attention. Instead, focus on giving your cat positive attention at appropriate times and places so she knows when and where she can expect that much-desired affection.

    For example: if you keep petting her at the dinner table, she’s going to assume that’s a good place to continue asking for attention. Be intentional about petting her when you’re on the couch instead—teach her that there’s a time and a place to be pet. 
  • Maintaining a consistent routine. Try to keep your days as predictable as possible. If your cat doesn’t know what to expect each day, she’s more likely to rely on you for comfort and support.

    Additionally, keep coming home and leaving as casual as possible. If you turn your hellos and goodbyes into big scenes, your cat is going to feel like your absence is a bigger deal than it is.

  • Adopting a second cat. Some cats do well with a playmate. While adopting a second cat certainly isn’t a decision that should be made lightly, it’s possible that providing your kitty with a furry companion could keep her from clinging to you so tightly. 

Keep your cat feeling happy and healthy with PetHonesty’s Lysine-Immune Health+ for Cats. This vet-recommended meal-topping powder is made with a blend of natural ingredients to promote a strong immune system, help with seasonal allergies, and support eye and respiratory health. Plus, the chicken and tuna flavoring with catnip makes it extra tasty!