Attention Seeking Cat Behavior: Causes And How To Deal With It

Cat being scratched on head

Cats, just like people, have all sorts of personalities. When you add a new cat to the family, you won’t know until you’ve been around the feline for a while, what kind of personality kitty has. Is this cat a cuddler? Or does he/she go overboard with attention seeking cat behavior?

Perhaps you really wanted a cat who likes to cuddle. That’s great — but what do you do if the cat won’t let you alone, always wanting attention and interaction? Sometimes you might discover that your new family member has an obsession for gaining attention. Why?

Let’s explore the reasons cats might always seek attention. Then, once you have discovered a cause, you can do what you feel necessary to alter this behavior. If you consider this attention-seeking a negative behavior, it could weaken the bond between you.

Watch For These Signs

Two cats, discussing knocking object off desk

Be aware, though, that it could also indicate that a medical issue is the cause. Thus, you need to deal with it right away. Look at these signs of attention-seeking behavior:

  1. Becoming increasingly more vocal
  2. Kneading or pawing you
  3. Weaving around your legs, rubbing against them
  4. Following you from place to place
  5. Biting softly
  6. Jumping up to your level
  7. Knocking objects off tables or shelves

What Are Causes Of Such Behavior?

It becomes important to understand why the cat behaves in such a manner. Have you been gone all day? Perhaps kitty just needs some attention because of your long absence. Sometimes long periods of time shut in a house can stress a cat. In this case, he merely has missed you.

The behavior could be caused by some underlying medical issue. Is kitty in pain? Does he feel stress, or perhaps separation anxiety? How do you deal with such issues? Read the signs.

Determine the cause of the behavior: This first step can help rule out any medical condition. If the cat exhibits aggressive behavior or meows a lot, it could present signs of a medical condition. If kitty experiences pain, it could come from dental issues, arthritis, or disorders that affect the central nervous system. If behavior changes suddenly, perhaps a vet visit is a good idea.

Observe kitty and look for patterns that might explain the behavior: Could kitty’s motivation stem from loneliness or boredom? Perhaps hunger? If such behavior occurs in the morning before breakfast, it might mean your cat needs to eat.

Cat stretched on floor: food bowl empty; havent eatin in 5 min.

If it occurs when you get home for the day, your kitty may have just missed you, and needs some reassurance and reinforcement showing that you care.

Is the behavior age-related? Often, older cats may develop attention-getting behavior that could have its root in cognitive dysfunction or some age-related anxiety. The vet can help you here.

Does your senior cat have an underlying physical condition? How about hearing and eyesight? Have the vet check these. Your vet may recommend anti-anxiety medication or cat pheromones, such as Feliway.

If you determine kitty displays unwanted behavior, ignore him: This step comes first, and furnishes the most important step needed to resolve the issue. If kitty meows nonstop and tries to interrupt your activities, don’t buy into it — pay no attention.

Kitty must learn that such behavior will not give him the attention sought. Do realize that, as you implement this ignoring technique, the cat’s behavior may become worse for a short time. Be patient and consistent to see results.

Two cats on top of cat tree

Do you provide kitty with an enriching environment? A cat establishes a routine because he/she has developed into a creature of habit. He desires a consistent and predictable schedule. which gives his life stability. It’s up to you to provide consistency with a regular feeding schedule, litter box cleaning time, play sessions, and attention when you first return home after an absence.

These situations needing consistency include the following:

Mealtime schedules 
Keeping litter box clean
Providing puzzle feeders and toys
Giving him an observatory spot, such as a bed, close to the window
Providing sufficient scratching posts
Providing elevated areas where he can climb or rest
Giving him regular attention and affection
Providing regular periods when you can play together

Focused and structured attention becomes important: Fit your schedule in with kitty's. Plan for two or three play sessions each day, plus some time for petting or grooming. If your kitty realizes it will receive attention from you regularly each day, he becomes less likely to exhibit pushy or demanding behavior.

If you interact with kitty regularly, you can reduce boredom and make him less apt to resort to behavior that demands attention.

Avoid physical punishment of unwanted behavior: This punishment will appear to kitty as attention, even though negative. For this reason, do not punish. You will do more good by ignoring the behavior. Also, if you have an aggressive cat, he might interpret such punishment as a challenge, making him more aggressive.

Reward your cat when he’s calm and behaving properly: Just as ignoring kitty will help to defuse undesirable behavior, giving treats, verbal praise, petting, and other forms of attention will help him realize which actions result in positive attention.

Cat with puzzle feeder

Don’t disturb him if sleeping, and don’t sneak up on him. However, do interact with him when you first get home. If you don’t give him some attention then, you can bring on the unwanted behavior.

Be sure all residents of your home help with managing kitty’s behavior: All residents of the house need to understand that they should ignore unwanted behavior and reward good behavior. These add to the overall effectiveness of your attempt to change negative behavior.

Begging Ranks As A Common Attention-Seeking Ploy

Remember that your cat as a creature of habit may find motivation to seek extra food. If your cat is more food-motivated and begs for treats, remember that kitty learns through consistency and repetition.

Don’t give a begging cat food unless you don’t mind reinforcing that behavior. Once you give such positive reinforcement, your cat will probably continue to beg. However, make sure to rule out any underlying health concerns that motivate this behavior.

Hyperthyroidism and diabetes represent two conditions that can boost a cat’s appetite and lead to changes in behavior. Pay attention to such unusual changes in behavior and find out their cause.

Answer these questions: Does the begging behavior become associated with feeding times? Has your cat started begging when he’s never done so before? Does he beg after finishing all of his food? These behaviors might indicate a health problem.

What About Eating Non-Food Items?

Cat chewing on pair of scissors

If kitty eats such inedible items as newspaper, cat litter, hair, and plastic, they may have a condition called pica. Pica isn’t about cats seeking attenton; rather, it indicates a serious medical issue and may point to an underlying illness.

Posible causes and triggers of pica:

  • Weaned too early
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation
  • Neurological conditions
  • Nutritional deficincies, such as anemia
  • Parasites, such as hookworms
  • Irritable bowel syndrom
  • Dental problems
  • Boredom due to lack of enrichment
Keep your cat safe from pica by storing any non-food items the cat wants to eat where they are out of reach.

Is Your Cat Howling Or Yowling?

Meowing for a cat becomes a learned response used to get a human’s attention. But what about consistent howling and yowling? The cause of the noise might point to a serious health concern or emotional distress. First, consider whether something in the environment could be the cause.

Tiger cat youwling

For example, if you just moved or adopted a new pet, your cat may be expressing his opinion about these changes. If your home life has not changed, the howling could represent a sign of hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, a UTI, or age-related cognitive issues.

Your vet can perform a total wellness check, ordering tests to provide answers. If the vet says the cause does not stem from any physical problems, then you can consider strategies such as new types of play or cat-friendly changes to your home.

Signs Your Cat Needs Attention

If a cat seeks attentioon due to anxiety or stress, he may do one or more of the following: He may eat more or less than usual, hide more often, groom less frequently, use the litter box more or less than usual, either be more lethargic and sleep often, or become more active and wakeful.

If you haven’t tried it, you might consider a product such as Feliway as a way to reduce short-term anxiety. Such products can reduce the reaction to stressful events.

Consider That Your Behavior Might Be The Cause

Have you created such behavior in kitty as a direct result of your own behavior? You can change such patterns by paying attention. Feeding routines should be consistent. You need to spend sufficient time with them. Clean the litter box regularly.

Look for other ways you may be sabotaging your kitty’s peace of mind. Get good routines in place dealing with feeding, grooming, and cuddling. If kitty becomes lonely, commit to spending more time with him/her. Make sure kitty has plenty of toys and activities to occupy him if he’s alone.

Create A Cat-Friendly Environment

When necessary, make some changes to kitty’s routine or to your own. You won’t see results overnight, but with consistency you can make progress. Be aware of kitty’s insecurities. Have some sympathy for kitty and use patience in dealing with these, so you don’t compound them.

If the cat’s behavior is due to previous abuse, your loving attention can help kitty a great deal.

Once you have determined that kitty has no underlying medical issue, consistent loving attention plus ignoring behavior that you do not want to reinforce can bring about the desired change.

References I used for this post:

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