A cat is a wonderful addition to a home and the unconditional love this pet will show you is priceless. No one hates the attention and company of a cat, but sometimes it can be too much. This mainly happens when the cat has some form of emotional instability or physiological issues.
Has your independent cat become so clingy all of a sudden? Are you wondering if this behavior is too much love or a sign of a more troubling issue? Are you disturbed by your cat’s excess ‘needy’ behaviors and are wondering how you can make her independent again? Get ready as I am about to respond to all these questions.
In this post, I will discuss what clinginess in cats is, the signs of this behavior, causes, and remedies. Read till the end to understand why keeping a cat is not a hobby but a responsibility that requires you to be ‘present’ in your cat’s life.
Let’s start with the indicators of an overly attached cat.
Signs of a clingy cat
The main signal- Your cat follows you everywhere- Naturally, cats are attention seekers and will always stay close to you. However, if your cat follows you everywhere and is always between you and everything you try to do, she is definitely clingy.
Other signs include:
- Meowing and scratching surfaces when they cannot access you
- Rubbing and scratching against you anytime you are near her
- Avoiding eating and drinking when you are not there
Why is my cat so clingy?
The simple answer- Clinginess in cats is generally caused by three major factors- history of the individual cat/old habits, current living conditions and health conditions. While here, I must mention that even though cats can be attention seekers, they are naturally independent. In this regard, it is okay to be concerned about a very needy and clingy cat.
A more detailed answer- Let me break down the above factors to help you better understand why cats have this behavior, giving example factors for each case.
1. Cats history/old habits
Many cats that are too clingy suffer from separation anxiety. This is excessive dependence that cats show on humans, especially when they had a rough past. This commonly occurs for cats that are rescued from households where they were abused.
Other past habits/ factors that may lead to a cat showing clingy behaviors include:
- Training a cat to be clingy and overly dependent at a young age
- Weaning a cat too early
- Removing a cat from her littermates too early
- Abandoning a cat before it learns to live independently
2. Current living conditions
Cats will be stressed and get clingy when the living environment they are living in offers the following:
- Strange people in your home- If your household receives a new member, be it a baby or a guest, the cat may feel uneasy and always suspicious of their intentions. This may force her to become clingy suddenly.
- Any loud activities such as fireworks – If your home is a hub of loud, intense activities, then your cat will always live in anxiety and this can lead to excessive clinginess.
- Loneliness- If you spend the entire day at work and leave the cat alone in the house, then she will demand a lot of affection when you get back. So, as much as you want to view it as clinginess and needy behavior, the cat may be wanting some play and exercise time to let off the boring experience she had during the day.
It would also help if you knew that if the cat is new to your home, she may feel a little uncomfortable and insecure. If you are the person who brought her in, then she can cling to you for safety and comfort.
It is worth noting that clinginess caused by the factors under the above two topics is easily reversible and you can effortlessly handle it as a pet owner (we’ll discuss this in the remedies section). However, reversing clinginess caused by the factor discussed below must always involve an animal health practitioner.
3. Health conditions
Common health conditions that affect cats are known to cause clinginess and even seizures. In this regard, you should clearly evaluate your cat to check if there are other behavioral and body form changes along the clinginess. If, for example, the cat is not feeding as before, something might be wrong with her health.
Some health conditions such as cognitive dysfunction may leave your cat with no other option but to become clingy. Always talk to your Vet when you suspect something is not adding up with your cat. (Let’s also discuss this further in the section below)
How to help a clingy cat – the remedies
So, if my cat is so clingy that I cannot handle it anymore, should I give up on her? Definitely no, as it would be unfair and equivalent to giving up on a person who is stressed or one who is suffering from a chronic illness.
Helping a clingy cat means taking up responsibility and resist being at loss on how you will fulfill the cat’s needs. Yes, keeping a cat is generally a hobby that you should gladly enjoy doing, as this pet does not call for much in terms of care and maintenance. However, when this behavior kicks in, a lot more focus is needed.
Enough with the persuasion, here are the practical strategies to remedy a cat’s clingy behavior:
Reach out to a vet
If your cat suddenly becomes so clingy, you should first contact your Vet to check on her. Necessary tests should be done on your cat to rule out any medical condition.
If your cat is indeed suffering from a medical condition, she should first be put under the right treatment procedure and thereafter handled according to the Vet’s instructions.
If your cat has no health issues, then the environment and living conditions may be the problem; so try out these other remedies.
Train your cat on relaxation behaviors
Relaxation exercises that you can train your cat to do include lying down, closing eyes, keeping the tail still, and sighing.
It is always advisable to include an item like a mat that the cat can relate the relaxation exercises to. Also, couple the exercises with rewards so that it becomes effortless to train the cat to stay calm and independent.
Offer your cat distraction when she becomes too needy
Does your cat have a favorite toy that she likes to play with? Why not offer it to her to shift her attention and forget about hanging around you.
If you confine your cat indoors, she will never have an open mind and even when slightly stressed, she will run unto you to find solace. Walk with her around your home’s compound and even off your home area for a few minutes daily. The outdoor sceneries will help the cat naturally calm down and eventually be independent.
Get an additional cat in your home
This is one of the easiest strategies to remedy your current cat’s clingy behaviors. The cat will learn on her own to live independently, on observing the life the other cat is leading. For your new pet, it would help to bring in a confident, non-aggressive and active cat.
As mentioned above, tuning your cat to behave the way you want is a great responsibility that will take some time before you see significant improvements. So, don’t give up if you see your clingy cat not responding to the above remedies immediately.
Ignore actions that are undesirable to you
If your cat is constantly scratching and rubbing against you to grab your attention, you have the right to ignore her. By continuously doing this, the cat will come to terms that it is not just about her needs but yours too.
- When it is time to live your home independently, do it in a way that the cat will not recognize. This will reduce her level of insecurity.
- Train your cat to play and get along with other people in your household.
- Ignore your cat is she is used to scratching the door to access you.
Frequently Asked Questions
• Why is my cat so attached to me lately?
The leading cause of this is sudden changes in her living environment. If there is a new member in your household or an additional pet that looks threatening to the cat, she will abruptly become clingy as a way of finding comfort and safety.
Sudden clinginess may also occur if your cat gets sick. Some cats will cling to you as a way of asking for help when they are dealing with a sprouting health condition. If you observe this sudden behavior change, always reach out to your vet.
• Older cat suddenly clingy- is this a major concern?
Older cats are more likely to become clingy compared to young and vibrant cats. The primary cause of a sudden clingy behavior in a senior cat is cognitive dysfunction.
Statistics show that cognitive dysfunction occurs in 55% of cats in the 11-15 years age bracket and 80% of cats aged 16-20 years. This condition is characterized by loss of memory, sight, hearing and balance. An older cat that gets this condition will become clingy all of a sudden as she demands guidance from you.
• My cat is obsessed with me- why is this?
If you are the only person who takes care of the cat in your home, then she may be obsessed with you. Especially if the other members of your household bully her, she will be by your side at all times.
If you pet, comfort and accommodate your cat when she is stressed, anxious or insecure, she will always run to you when in these situations. In a nutshell, if a cat loves and trusts you, she can easily lose her feelings over you.
• Why is my cat so clingy at night?
The environment is more relaxed at night and cats, being nocturnal, they can get lonely during this time. They will get clingy and demand petting and scratching to ward off this loneliness.
A cat will spend most of her daytime sleeping and will have all the spirit to play and rub against you during the night.
• Why is my cat so clingy in the morning?
Cats are highly active in the morning hours and hence will like to spend more time with you at this time. They have bursts of energy during morning hours and will get clingy to dissipate it out.
It is not just about the energy for the behavior in the morning. Cats’ appetite is high during this time and they may get clingy to try and get food in their bowl.
• Why is my cat so clingy after being neutered?
After the invasive procedure, the cat may not feel normal for some time and may get clingy until the section is completely healed. Note that this procedure should eliminate heat cycles and hence your clingy cat will be calmer and more independent when completely healed.
Clingy behaviors in cats are generally expected, but if they happen abruptly, they can be cause for concern. If your cats are stressed or generally mentally disturbed, they will show this behavior. As seen from this post, you should be on the lookout for other health conditions, especially if the clinginess is accompanied by other symptoms such as loss of appetite and general weakness.
Hopefully, you’ve known the strategies you can use to reverse any form of clingy behavior from your cat. Always keep in mind that knowing your cat (every cat has a different personality) is the first step to bringing out her best behaviors. Pay attention to how you raise your kitten, as most of the behaviors you observe in an adult cat will definitely sprout at a younger age and get carried through her life.