Why is my Cat so Clingy? 5 Great Tips on Helping your Needy Cat

A surprising number of people ask this. Cats have a reputation for being independent and aloof, and clinginess doesn’t fit that stereotype. Clingy behavior in cats can include the following:

  • Following their owner everywhere
  • Lots of meowing
  • Pawing at an arm or leg
  • Refusing to eat if the owner isn’t around
  • Getting agitated if the owner doesn’t sit in their usual chair
  • Huddling next to their owner’s feet or legs when strangers come to visit

Clinginess can have a benign cause; some cat breeds are naturally more needy than others. Ragdolls, Siamese, and Tonkinese are often described as being more dependent on humans than other breeds, to name some examples.

Having a clingy cat can also be temporary. For example, a cat owner who returns from a vacation will often be confronted by a cat that insists on crying and/or following them from room. In such cases, the cat’s behavior generally returns to normal after a few days.

A needy cat becomes a problem if it persists, leads to extreme behavior like not eating and/or if it can’t be chalked up to a benign cause like a breed trait or temporary upset in the cat’s routine.

5 Tips on Why your Cat is so Needy?

An overly clingy cat is generally a sign of anxiety or a lack of confidence, and it can have several different causes:

  • Illness
  • Recent changes, like moving
  • The cat was taken from its mother too early
  • The cat is a rescue
  • The cat is a new addition to the household
  • Being bullied by another pet

1. Ilness

One question to ask when contemplating “Why is my cat so clingy?” is the onset of the clinginess. If the cat suddenly becomes needy for no apparent reason, the problem might be illness. Radical and sudden changes in behavior often indicate illness in a cat. A cat that feels sick may turn to its owner for comfort and display unusually dependent behavior. 

Like humans, cats can develop health problems as they age. Older cats can become deaf and/or senile, and both conditions are associated with increased and mournful-sounding crying. Similarly, a cat that’s going blind may also start showing clingy behavior.

why is my cat so clingy illness

2. Sudden Changes

Cats generally don’t handle sudden changes in their environment well. The upheaval that accompanies a move frightens them. Similarly, they don’t handle new arrivals, like a baby or another pet, all that well. Some cats even get stressed if the owner buys a new piece of furniture or throws out the cat’s favorite chair. 

sudden change to cat

3. Separation Anxiety

A kitten should not be taken from its mother until it is at least eight weeks old. Ideally, it should be at least 12 or 13 weeks old before it is adopted out. Those first few weeks are crucial to the cat’s physical and emotional health. Kittens are not fully weaned until they are between eight and ten weeks, and they need the nutrients from their mother’s milk to grow up strong and healthy.

Similarly, they need the lessons in social behavior that they can get only from their mother and litter mates. Kittens taken too soon from their mother miss out on these lessons and thus simply don’t know how to behave on their own. They can therefore be aggressive or insecure and clingy.

4. Rescued Cat

A cat adopted from an animal shelter may have a problematic background. Its previous owner(s) may have been cruel, neglectful or a hoarder. Cats taken from such environments tend be fearful. They fear that their new home may prove to be only temporary and that they will be abandoned again. They may also cling to a kind new owner out of gratitude.

How to deal with a Needy Cat?

So you have a clingy or needy cat.....now what?  Follow below to find the best way to handle your furry friend.

1. Determine the cause

Clinginess is an expression of insecurity, so it’s necessary to determine if the cat is reacting to an event, or if it is ill or injured. That means taking the cat to a vet. As a rule of thumb, if a cat has developed clingy behavior it didn’t used to have, the first step is to check for health problems.

In fact, any marked change in behavior should be reported to a vet. A cat that suddenly stops using the litter box, for example, could prove to have a potentially lethal urinary tract infection. If the vet gives the cat a clean bill of health, the next step is check for stressful situations in your cat’s life, like a recent move or new addition to the household. 

2. Make sure the cat has a refuge

Cats don't handle sudden or tumultuous changes like moving or a new addition to the household at all well. They need a safe space to help them cope. Ideally, the owner should plan ahead before moving to make things easier on the cat. During a move, the cat should be kept in a “safe room” with her belongings. That will also have the advantages of keeping her out of the movers’ way and preventing her from running away. 

Similarly, the cat should be kept in a “safe room” while everybody is unpacking. If the cat is being bullied by another animal, like another cat, make certain there are enough perches and litter boxes so the victim can access them without confronting the bully. Perches can be especially helpful, for high places with a good view make a cat feel safe. 

safe shelter for cat

3. Ensure Cat Companionship

Contrary to the stereotype, cats enjoy and even crave companionship, whether it’s from their owner or another animal. Petting or playing with the cat from time to time may actually reduce the clingy behavior. If the owner works outside the home, they may want to consider a companion animal or even a cat sitter to keep their feline friend company.

4. Don’t reward bad behavior

In other words, don’t pay attention to the cat if she’s being too clingy. No matter how cute it looks, don’t pet her when she drapes herself across the keyboard; just move her out of the way. Tune out constant meowing. Responding to a cat that’s acting clingy will reinforce the undesirable behaviors.

5. Don’t punish Your Cat

Yelling at your cat or otherwise punishing it will just make the cat more fearful and clingy. Clingy cats are already fearful, and becoming obviously angry towards them will just increase your cat's need to be around you even more.

Conclusion

“Why is my cat so clingy?” A cat with behavioral problems can be frustrating to live with, and it will take time and patience to handle the problem.  Is your cat shy? Check out socializing a shy cat .

Did you enjoy the tutorial? Was it helpful? What experiences have you had with clingy cats, and how did you solve the problem? Please leave your comments below and share the article if you like it?


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