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What it means if your cat is clingy, according to a pet behaviorist

Being smothered by a cat’s love might be every owner’s dream, but most of the time, a clingy cat can indicate that something is wrong.

News week contacted two animal behaviorists to find out what it really means if a cat sticks to its owner like glue.

A Velcro cat isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes they may just want a little more noise if their owner has been at work all day or eating. But it’s important for owners to look at the root cause of the grip to make sure their feline friend is okay.

Paula Stewart, animal behaviorist.
Supplied/Paula Stewart

Paula Stewart, an animal behaviorist from London, said clingy behavior could be a sign of separation anxiety.

“If your cat follows you around a lot, gets under your feet, shows signs of stress when you leave, and usually won’t leave you, your cat may be suffering from separation anxiety,” the director of The Animal Talent says. Agency. News week.

“If you think this might be the case, one of the first steps is to make sure you eat a healthy, natural diet, as nutrition can greatly affect behavior. Provide a safe, quiet space or cat kennel where the cat can feel safe when it’s safe. you’re not there.”

In 2020, a study showed that 13% of cats showed signs of problems related to separation. The findings, published in the journal PLOS One, are based on analysis of a questionnaire collected from 223 cats from 130 owners by scientists at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora in Brazil.

The results also revealed that cats without access to toys, as well as the absence of other pets in the home, were associated with behavioral problems in felines.

Nicky Trevorrow head shot
Nicky Trevorrow, Cat Protective Behavior Manager.
SUPPLIED/Nicky Trevorrow

Another reason cats become a shadow of their owner could be sheer boredom. Nicky Trevorrow, behavior manager for UK charity Cats Protection, explained that cats that don’t get enough stimulation during their day may stalk their owners.

“Cats are often quite independent creatures, but if they have a strong bond with you, they may just follow you around because they want to be around you and see what you’re up to,” Trevorrow explained. News week. “Or maybe they’re waiting for you to sit down so they can jump on your lap and take a nap.

“Another reason your cat may follow you is that they are hungry and want you to feed them. This is especially likely just before their usual meals, or at dawn or dusk, when cats are usually most You may also have accidentally reinforced their tendency to follow you. For example, if every time you go to the kitchen you give your cat food, your cat is likely to associate going to cooking to being fed and following you every time.

8 Ways to Handle a Clingy Cat

sticky cat
An image of a clingy cat. Newsweek reached out to two experts to find out why cats can be clingy.
Juliano703/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Trevorrow has provided the following tips aimed at helping cats overcome their clinginess.

  • GIVE THEM A PLACE TO FEEL SAFE: By helping them feel more comfortable and confident, they will hopefully reduce their clingy tendencies.
  • Establish a stable daily routine for feeding so your cat becomes more confident and less nervous about when it will happen.
  • Often cats that seem clingy are actually bored, especially if they live only indoors or don’t go outside because of the weather. If your cat regularly goes “crazy five minutes” it’s a good indication that she has too much pent up energy. Schedule more playtime, as distracting them from irritating behaviors can reduce them altogether. Also invest in safe toys they can play with on their own.
  • If your cat constantly seeks attention when you’re around, teach her to feel more comfortable alone, away from you, while staying in the same room. For example, set up a puzzle feeder in the evening for your cat while you sit nearby and read a book. Ignore them and let them take care of themselves. Little by little, you can space out the distance that separates you from the puzzle.
  • You can also use something like a book as a non-interaction signal. If you don’t interact with your cat every time you pull out a book, the cat will learn over time that it needs to be entertained.
  • Start rewarding them randomly. For example, if your cat is resting peacefully and not bothering you, pet it lightly and walk away. The more random rewards of this nature you can get, the sooner your cat will start to understand that they’re good when they’re calm and aloof.
  • Don’t give in to every request, or you may inadvertently reinforce clingy behavior.
  • Remember that a cat in need may need medical assistance, so it’s always best to have them checked out by a veterinarian.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or photos of your pet that you want to share? Send them to life@newsweek.com with some details about your best friend and they might appear in our Pets of the Week lineup.


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