Last updated: December 6, 2016
Ah! It’s my human! He’s been away all day doing whatever he does with other humans so it’s time he paid attention to ME, his precious, loving pussy cat! Feed me, pet me, scratch me, talk to me, let me sit on your lap, let me lie on your computer, play with me! Come on, those humans are so boring and I’m a fascinating, mysterious, beautiful feline person! (Yes, cats are people too, you know!)
Why is my cat so needy? Well, before we answer that question – there are various types of needy cats – here are some!
You Have a Stalker!
If you have a little shadow that follows you everywhere, trips you up, threads himself between your legs and generally gets under your feet, then you have a stalker on your hands. This is the type of cat who needs to know where you are at all times – just in case he needs an extra special bit of petting!
The Velcro Cat
Do you have one of those cats who thinks you are a bit of dough or a scratching post? Are you constantly being woken from a pleasant doze by the affectionate attention of two sets of unsheathed claws? Then you have a sticky cat who never wants to let you go.
There’s a Baby in My Bed
Ever shared your bed with a baby or a toddler? It’s a nightmare, isn’t it? Cats are infinitely worse because evolution has designed them to be light sleepers at night, just in case they need to wake up and kill something to eat. So they’re up and down, all over the bed, treading on your face, your hair, your pillow and generally making a nuisance of themselves!
Excuse me! I AM Here, You Know!
Hello! It’s me, Ruffles. Pay attention to me – pet me, stroke me, cuddle me, kiss me or I will make your life a misery! I will meow my head off at all times of the day and night, and in return, I might – just might – favor you with a purr now and again. Just stop ignoring me, ok?
Why is it that cats always like to walk on and lie on your computer? I used to think it was the warmth of the keyboard, and that may be partially true, but the needy cat likes to be where you are, and if you’re a Facebook junkie, an internet troll or a workaholic, your cat will be too! The truth is that they just like to be near you. I suppose it’s really quite flattering, but when you’re trying to write a doctoral dissertation or an article on a cat blog, it’s not too helpful!
Who is that strange person in my house? I haven’t seen them before and they smell funny. What’s the best place to hide? In the cupboard? Under the bed? Ah, I know. Behind my human’s legs – they can’t get me there! Don’t even think about trying to stroke me, strange human!
Some cats are just timid. Despite the claws, paws, and jaws, they still want to hide, and run – to you, of course!
If your cat comes running as soon as he hears the doorknob turning, the door opening and your keys jingling then tries to hold you back by blocking your path, meowing or twining around your legs, chances are he’s suffering from separation anxiety. Another manifestation of this is your cat refusing to eat while you’re gone. If your cat doesn’t feel safe eating alone then he just won’t eat! And as you know, cats are very funny about eating. If he doesn’t like the smell, look or taste of it – it’s doomed. So if you don’t want your cat to starve to death – fix it!
Obey Me, Slave!
Don’t confuse this kind of cat with a needy cat. This is a manipulative little sociopath who only has to look at you and you know he’s saying: “jump!” If your answer is “how high?” You know that your cat is in charge of you, and not the other way round. This is not the natural order of things. He is not Da Boss – he just thinks he is. If you find yourself doing what your cat wants, you don’t only have a clingy cat, you have one who can twist you around his paw. (Yes, I’m guilty too!) Clearly, something has to be done!
What Can I Do?
Your first stop, is, of course, the go-to guy, the vet. This superhero in a white coat can tell if there is a medical condition that is the underlying cause of this clinginess. If not, then it needs to be treated by a cat behaviorist or at home with advice from your vet.
When anyone, or even any cat, is in distress, our first instinct is to say “there, there, shame. Poor kitty,” and pet him, soothe him and cuddle him. Of course, this, in kitty’s mind, means “every time I look frightened she picks me up and pets me. Hmmm…need to do some more of that” so you are effectively reinforcing and rewarding the bad behavior.
If he sits on your computer or does something else that annoys you, gently move or discourage him for as many times as it takes to get the message through. Cats like habit and consistency, and the more the behavior is reinforced the more he will do it. The best thing to do is to reward him with a treat and a cuddle when he’s behaving well, but don’t punish him for bad behavior, because that way they’ll learn to fear you and he’ll become a scaredy-cat. Reward the good, ignore the bad. You can even train humans that way!
Keeping kitty from repeating the behavior you don’t want means distracting him from it too, so keep his mind occupied with stuff that he likes, like toys and a scratching post.
It’s difficult to reward your cat when he does exactly the right thing at exactly the right time – you may not be standing right behind him with a treat at that very moment, so use a clicker after his good behavior, and immediately give him the treat thereafter. That way, he will always associate the sound of the clicker with a reward. He’ll soon be able to figure out that clicker = treat, and after a while, the good behavior will become automatic.
So you’ve got a needy cat? You’ve got a demanding cat? Who cares? You’ve got a cat to love and who loves you, so you’re one of the luckiest people in the world!