Being loved by a cat may be every owner’s dream, but most of the time, a clingy cat can be a sign that something is wrong.
Weekly newspaper Contacted two ethologists to find out exactly what it means if a cat sticks to its owner like glue.
Velcro cats aren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, if their owners are working or eating all day, they might just want a little extra trouble. But it’s important for owners to investigate the root cause of clinginess to make sure their feline friend is okay.
Supplied / Paula Stewart
Clingy behavior can be a sign of separation anxiety, says ethologist Paula Stewart from London.
“If your cat constantly follows you, flops on your feet, shows signs of stress when you leave, and generally doesn’t leave your side, your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety,” says Dr. Tell Weekly newspaper.
“If you think this may be the case, the first step is to make sure you are feeding a naturally healthy diet, as nutrition can greatly affect behavior. Provide a quiet, designated safe space or litter box where cats feel comfortable when Safety: You are not around.”
In 2020, a study showed that 13% of cats showed signs of separation-related problems. Scientists at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Brazil analyzed questionnaires collected from 223 cats from 130 owners and published in the journal PLOS One.
The findings also found that cats’ lack of access to toys, as well as the absence of other pets in the household, were linked to behavioral problems in felines.
Another reason why cats become shadows of their owners can be sheer boredom. Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager at the UK charity Cat Protection, explained that cats who are not stimulated enough during the day may follow their owners.
“Cats are usually very independent creatures, but if they have a strong bond with you, they might just follow you because they want to get close to you and see what you’re doing,” Trevorrow told Weekly newspaper. “Or maybe they’re waiting for you to sit down so they can jump on your lap for a nap.
“Another reason your cat is stalking you is that they are hungry and want you to feed them. This is especially likely to happen before their normal mealtime, or at dawn or dusk when cats are usually most active. You also May inadvertently intensify their hunger.” Tend to follow you. For example, if you give your cat some food every time you enter the kitchen, your cat will likely associate your going to the kitchen with being fed and will follow you every time.
8 Ways to Deal with a Clingy Cat
Trevorrow offers the following suggestions aimed at helping cats overcome clinging behavior.
- Give them a safe place – By helping them feel more comfortable and confident, they will hopefully reduce their tendency to cling.
- Establish a steady feeding routine so your cat becomes more confident and doesn’t get stressed out about feeding times.
- Cats that often seem clingy are actually just bored, especially if they’re indoor-only cats, or cats who don’t go outside due to the weather. If your cat is constantly “crazy for five minutes,” it’s a good sign that they have too much pent-up energy. Schedule more playtime, as distracting them from annoying behavior can cut down on playtime entirely. Also invest in safe toys that they can play with themselves.
- If your cat is constantly seeking attention when you are around, teach them that they are more comfortable alone in the same room without you. For example, set up a puzzle feeder for your cat at night while you sit by and read a book. Ignore them and let them busy themselves. Gradually, you can figure out how far the puzzle is from you.
- You can also use things like books as non-interactive signals. If you don’t interact with your cat every time you pull out the book, over time the cat will learn that they need to entertain themselves.
- Start rewarding them randomly. For example, if your cat is lying quietly and not disturbing you, pet them gently and walk away. The more you can get random rewards of this nature, the sooner your cats will start to understand that they behave well when they are calm and at a distance.
- Don’t give in to every request, because you may inadvertently reinforce clingy behavior.
- Keep in mind that a cat in need may need medical assistance, so it’s best to have it checked out by a veterinarian.
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