Stuck on You

Needy or demanding, it's time to analyze your cat's clingy behavior. Learn how to change your pet's needy ways.

By Ron Bast | Posted: Tue Jun 28 00:00:00 PDT 2005

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"Rescued cats can often appear extremely needy at first," says Diana Duncan, president of HART (Homeless Animal Rescue Team), based in Cambria, Calif. "By the time they get to you, they've often been through a number of hands and have had a pretty rough time. It's not uncommon for them to either be very skittish or very needy."

But watch out for the same symptoms you look for in a sick child, Duncan says. "When your child begins to act especially needy or whiny, you begin to suspect illness. It's the same with cats. Let your vet have a look, just to be sure."

Beyond illness or initial adjustment issues, however, the dependence label becomes suspect, says Debbie Lopeman of Pontiac, Ill.-based Karissimakat. Lopeman breeds Himalayans and Persians and finds very few cases of anything remotely like dependence.

"Dependent cats? I don't think so," Lopeman says. "Other than having me scoop their litterboxes and put out food, they could live without me. They depend on me for basic needs, but I wouldn't call that needy or dependent."

Needy or demanding? "You don't want to confuse the two," Lopeman says. "The majority of my cats are what I call 'in-your-face' cats. They're in my lap all the time. They're all over me. It's 'Mom's here! Mom's here!' I have one little girl who knows exactly when it's feeding time. She stands on the gate and yells at me. That's not needy. That's plain, old demanding."

Who's in Charge Here?
Like spoiled children, cats learn quickly that being demanding pays off, Lopeman says. "I have a friend whose cat rules the roost. When the cat meows, my friend jumps. Anything that cat wants, she gets. When the cat decided she didn't want to eat with the other cats, she got to eat on the table by herself. To put it bluntly, the cat had my friend trained," Lopeman says. "Cats do train people, so maybe the issue isn't dependence. Maybe it's co-dependence."

John Achterkirchen, a social worker in Morro Bay, Calif., agrees. "I know more about humans than I do about cats," Achterkirchen says, "but I've watched our two cats over the past 16 years, and I feel somewhat qualified to say that those two have done a fine job of training us."

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Reader Comments

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

7/16/2012 1:26:38 PM

Rebecca -- Because this is a behavior change for your cat, take him to the vet to see if a physical change is making him feel vulnerable and insecure, and therefore clingier. Also, think if any changes in the household have been made, like an addition of someone competing for your attention, that might cause your cat to not let you out of his sight. Cats become clingier as they age, too.

Rebecca    Davenport, IA

7/15/2012 12:58:27 AM

After reading some of these articles, I am extremely worried about my fat cat! The last week he will not leave any room that I am in. I have had him for 5 years and adopted him from a shelter, at that time they thought he was 3 years old. I have another shelter cat in the house as well, but they have been together for 4 years. But, he is the dominant main cat in the house, and for the last week, completely unsatiable! He wont leave my side, and from what I have read here, it is not good. :(

janet    bethlehem, PA

12/19/2011 4:31:48 AM

good article, thanks

janet    bethlehem, PA

11/5/2008 5:35:37 AM

good article thanks

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