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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Achterkirchen says that the humans in the equation create the environment for cats that run the show. "My wife, Carol, is the enabler," he says. "When it's cold, she warms blankets for them in the clothes dryer that sort of thing. Of course, the cats respond to that kind of treatment over time and begin to expect it."

The nurture vs. nature argument also comes into play, Achterkirchen says. "Cats, in general, are more independent than dogs, but some cats will just naturally be more independent than others. Tigger is about as independent as a cat can be. He could probably live on his own with no problem. He's been like that ever since he was a kitten, while Gladdie probably should have seen a psychiatrist years ago. All the nurture in the world wouldn't change that. They've both been treated identically, so I think nature is pretty involved in this case."

But nurture works, too, Lopeman explains. "Call it needy or dependent or whatever you want, [but] most people want a cat who wants to be with them," she says. "I want my cats to be social, so I raise them with that in mind. The kittens grow up with my grandkids. They're used to the vacuum cleaner and kids screaming. They've been handled from day one. That doesn't make them needy; it makes them social. It makes them want to be with people, and I don't think there are too many people who want cats any other way."

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Pat    International

11/20/2014 2:11:07 AM

My cat is obsessively dependent/needy. I have had her since she was 12 weeks old, nursed her through three months of chronic diarrhoea and although I love her I am seriously thinking of re-homing her. Like the previous reader, my cat will not leave me alone, HAS to sit on me or be as near as she can get, whatever I am doing. She too cries outside the bathroom door, has scratched all my carpets up and gets put in the kitchen when she is
stopping me from doing things - this leads to crying, scratching, yowling until let out again. I will not allow her in my bedroom at night as I need to sleep sometimes (!) so shut her in the living room. Somehow she manages most nights to open the door and I have to get up and put her back downstairs. Your article made me realise that we are not alone but doesn't really tell me what to do about mending this behaviour. I'm wondering if being hand reared as she was rejected by her mother has anything to do with this?

Tanya    Marysville, WA

5/5/2014 11:11:10 PM

I have 50 plus years with cats of all sorts, but my latest cat is very different.

She pretty much needs to be within touching distance of me 23 hrs a day if she isn't in a time out that is. She is my only cat currently and I was told she was 2-3yrs old...but my vest said she is barely a year, so hopefully she will outgrow this.

I had to give in and let her sleep with me (I never used to let cats on my bed due to asthma) because I simply will not get any sleep otherwise. She SUCKS on my chin when she is being extremely clingy and doesn't take no for an answer and has nipped me if I make her stop. Got to love waking up to cat sucking the chin...NOT! I've had cats hug, lick my face, sleep on top of my legs or feet while working, but this cat has to be touching me or within a paws distance. She doesn't meow, except when I leave the house for 5 mins or close the bathroom door...she starts meowing loudly till I can actually open the door...which is hard to do cause she is blocking it. LOL! She has to stick her head into the shower because sitting on the floor in the bathroom isn't close enough. Closing the bathroom door is torture to her and she senses me sneaking into the bathroom for a little time without her perching between my legs watching what I am doing. I literally can't do anything without her on me...kitty has to sit in the desk chair and I get a little perch on the edge of the chair. LOL. I've never seen this sort of neediness in a cat. I have diabetes, and she finds any wound that she gives me then makes it her mission to obsessively lick it. Ordinarily I don't feel the wounds till she uses her sandpaper tongue on them. I have to put her in the garage so she will leave me alone. Then I feel guilty and let her back after the time out. She is 2 cats actually...sweet and lovable, and holy terror at night unless I let her sleep with me. She loves pulling my curtains and all the hardware on to my head while I am sleeping. If I put her in the garage due to her behavior...she has to sleep on my laundry...instead of her nice beds. She was put up for adoption due to her inability to leave the other cats alone, and the 2nd adoption gave her up because of her misbehavior. Needless to say...I felt real guilty when 3 months in I was thinking I'd have to re-home her because 23 hrs a day of attention wasn't enough for her. But I love the little stinker and she is very smart and is learning to walk on leash and a little agility...but it has to be before 7pm. After that she is hell on paws and she just wants to climb the walls...literally till she decides to go lay on top of me to take a nap.

Kathryn    Lincoln, NE

7/14/2012 4:30:39 PM

I have a VERY dependent cat...so much so I can't even go on vacation without him getting stress induced feline UTI's. He only gets them when I leave him for a few days. I have the "grandparents" come and do ALL the things he "expects," ie. the water has to be iced and from the bathtub while he watches (don't troll me please lol). He gets all the things he expects, but the only difference is I'm not there.

I took him to a behavioral vet and they found out that he isn't dependent but thinks he's "taking care of ME." I'm his "job." I am a person who has a chronic illness, and my cat saved my life one night, (the EMT's wanted to call the local paper about it) and ever since then he's been my "caretaker" when ever I get sick etc.

When I take him to the vet he turns into a raging "fighting cougar" (he's normally a fuzzy lover to everyone), and the vet asked me to try something. He asked me to leave the room and when I did the cat calmed down immediately. That is when the vet said, "He's not afraid of us...he's protecting you from us. He thinks we're going to hurt his 'baby.' You're his 'baby.' He 'mothers' you."

So....he's my chaperone, my overseer, my caretaker, my protector, but...he has to go on prozac just so he'll relax when I go on vacation. The prozac has helped him endure my absences. Goodness I LOVE my cat. He's one of a kind.

Janet    Bethlehem, PA

12/18/2011 10:01:18 AM

good article, thank you

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