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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Reader Comments

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

Pixiegirl    NY, NY

4/7/2010 7:13:51 PM

enjoy it while it lasts... this behavior will be outgrown.i have 3 very affectionate cats. 1 katie is a stray i was blessed with(very social, and affectionate),pixie is her daughter. I actually had to bottle feed her as a kitten. pixie was very independant as a baby but went through a terrible 2's period and is now only plays with the other cats but comes to me for petting, sleeping she owns the bathroom and goes in the shower with me. Lastly Zoe is about to be 2 in May she is entering her terrible 2's which i describe as the "I love u, dont touch me" phase.. as you can see they are all at different emotional stages...you will miss it when it ends.... I do

Patty    Jonesborough, TN

11/26/2009 4:43:09 AM

I have a five year old male, very sweet. He has always slept at the foot of the bed. He is an independant cat. For the last week he has been sleeping during the day on myside of the bed on my pillows. I move him he goes back. He has never done this. He seems more needy latly. I will take him to the vet. Thanks for the article. He does not act sick but more needy.

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