BEHAVIOR & TRAINING

Why is My Cat So Clingy: Understanding Your Cat’s Lovey-Dovey Behavior

Clingy cat
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

Cats are generally independent pets. They will eat when they feel like it and keep you company when it’s convenient for them. You will find that unlike dogs, a cat’s loyalty is a difficult thing to unravel. ‘Why is my cat so clingy?’ is a question that bothers many cat parents because it is unlike our feline friends to behave this way.

In our quest to get to the bottom of this behavior, we found out that felines are quite intelligent, which would explain why they have edged out dogs as the favorite pet. This kind of intelligence helps them to behave in a certain way when need be.

Clinginess is just one way for them to communicate with you. When that happens especially when it’s out of the blue, then it’s your chance to reciprocate their love and provide what they need to get them back to normal.

How can you tell when your cat is overly clingy and how do you deal with it? We have prepared extensive information on reasons why cats become clingy and how to identify the behavior. Is the behavior becoming a bit much hence disruptive to your routine? If so, fear not; read on to find out how simple tips such as play and petting could come in handy.

How Clingy Cats Behave

cat screaming

It is possible to mistake clinginess for normal behavior. Being able to understand a specific behavior in your cat is the first step in knowing how to deal with it.

Cats use different mannerisms to communicate and gain the attention of their owners. Such may include: over-grooming because of flea infestation, over vocalization as a distress call, pawing insistently at your legs because he is hungry, sneering and hissing to indicate the presence of an intruder, headbutting to say hello, and kneading you with his paws to show happiness and contentment among others.

Those are but a few behaviors unique to cats which may sometimes come off as weird. So, before we look at why cats suddenly become clingy, let’s understand how to spot the clingy behavior. Be on the lookout for:

  • A cat who insists on following you around the house. A once cool and independent cat will start being at your heels at every chance. Shooing him away doesn’t work no matter how loud you are.

  • A feline who will only eat when you are around. Bearing in mind that cats are good at keeping to their feeding schedule, if your cat decides not to follow his mealtimes and only wait until you, then he is being clingy.

  • A cat who suddenly becomes shy when a stranger visits. Such a cat will huddle at your feet and refuse to approach strangers. This can be normal if it’s his usual behavior but if he persists even when a familiar guest visits, then that’s him being clingy.

  • If your cat starts becoming more vocal than he usually is, then that could also be indicative of clinginess. Meowing is a cat’s way of getting your attention. When he does it virtually all the time, then you should be worried; he is trying to involve you in all his activities.

Reasons Why Cats Become Clingy

Just like humans, cats go through different types of emotions, and these can cause them to become clingy. Examples range from happiness to fear. Some of the triggers could be related to their health, environment, or even you.

When they are going through these ups and downs, your presence can be a source of relief. Without the ability to talk, being clingy is just one way of dealing with their emotional turmoil.

To answer the question ‘Why is my cat so clingy all of a sudden?’ here are possible reasons why your cat is all clingy.

#1: Your Cat May Be Having Health Problems

cat is ill

A cat suffering from an illness can become overly attention-seeking. This is in response to the pain or uneasiness that comes with ill health. The behavior is more pronounced amongst senior cats who are more susceptible to diseases. Adult cats or those in their youth suffer from diseases less often, and if they do, they usually recover fast.

Loss of hearing with age can also cause a cat to feel insecure. This is evidenced by jumpy behavior when something or someone closes the cat’s path and he didn’t see them approaching. With so much to be insecure about, these cats can end up curling themselves up on your lap at every single chance.

The same goes for cats who are fully or partially blind. The loss of vision can be sudden or gradual over time. If you notice your cat becoming cuddly all of a sudden, then it would be a good idea to consider blindness as the cause.

Other signs that can indicate blindness include wandering aimlessly, bumping into furniture, feeling with the nose or whiskers, being easily startled, and unnatural meowing.

Cats who suffer from diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and eye tumors are more prone to blindness. If your cat is suffering from any of these, being clingy can be his way of dealing with the possible loss of eyesight.

See Also: How to Tell If a Cat is Blind

#2: Be On the Lookout for Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)

When it comes to cats being overly ‘loving,’ one illness that stands out is cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). People whose cats have CH report that their felines are more attention-seeking than the healthy ones. The condition is characterized by walking and balance problems.

CH occurs in kittens who are born with their Cerebellum being underdeveloped. The cerebellum is the part of the brain that controls fine motor skills and coordination. CH commonly results from head injuries when the kittens were still in the womb. Another main cause is if the mother contracted feline panleukopenia virus while she was pregnant.

These cats experience head tremors, which is uncontrollable shaking of the head when a cat is trying to focus on something. The disease also causes cats to be less coordinated especially during play. Snuggling is just one way of dealing with the condition.

A visit to the vet when a cat exhibits these symptoms is advisable. The condition is, however, non-progressive in that it does not become severe with age. It’s also not contagious hence one should not have any reservations when adopting a CH cat, or keeping one together with other cats.

There isn’t much to be done in terms of treatment since the condition is not life-threatening. In the absence of other diseases, cats with the condition live as long as their healthy counterparts.

These cats are actually good at compensating for the lack of coordination or tremors; for example, they become excellent climbers as opposed to jumpers. The difference in their character makes for unique personalities which make them just as lovely. They can come out as more demanding in terms of care, but their need for bonding makes them good indoor pets.

#3: You Could Be the Cause

cat sitting on his owner

Some cats are adept at reading humans moods. When your cat becomes suddenly lovey-dovey, you should ask yourself what has changed in your life or routine.

A change like pregnancy could be a trigger for the sweet behavior. For some reason, some cats are able to tell when one is with child. This could be due to a change in posture or even the way you start concentrating on your belly.

When you keep massaging your baby bump, your cat could catch on and cuddle up, trying to unravel why your belly is receiving so much attention. It’s also possible that they can feel the baby kicking and that piques their curiosity.

Has your life been one huge roller coaster of late? Are your emotions all over the place? Maybe you need someone to be there for you. Well… worry not, your kitty can tell when you need some love and care. He will be there to hold you, in his own way.

What you may think is him being clingy could just be a way of caring for you. It’s good to remember that cats have excellent maternal instincts, more so the mollies. They know how to tend to their kittens when the young ones are nervous or in distress. They will try to groom you like they would their kittens or curl up on your lap to keep you warm.

So next time you are depressed and your cat decides it’s time to be clingy, let her; you are just one of her kittens who need to be groomed, guided, or kept warm.

See Also: How Do Cats Show Affection

#4: He Could Be Transitioning from Street to Domestic Life

Life on the streets is hard.’ That could be just a saying to you, but it carries more weight when you think of being a cat literally on the streets. There, a cat will constantly be in territorial fights with others. Getting food or even a warm night’s sleep is an uphill task. Pest infestations and diseases are the order of the day.

With so many odds stacked against such a cat, being rescued and adopted is surely a welcome reprieve. A rescued cat may crave human attention. Coming home to a loving family where he eats and gets to sleep soundly can lead to a fondness for you.

You represent the motherly love that such a cat probably had only for a short while. Being close to you is his way of reassuring himself that the hard life is surely gone.

With time, a rescued cat will start getting used to the care he is given. Most of his insecurities will fade, and he will grow to be independent.

#5: Your Cat Could Be Weaned Too Early

newborn kitten

Kittens are typically separated from their litter at two months of age. The separation, however, goes more smoothly if they get to be at least three months old before they are adopted. The time spent with their mother is important in molding their social behavior. They get to relate with their littermates and bond with their mother.

From 8 weeks onwards, weaning starts which is a crucial step in their development. When it’s done naturally by their mothers, it helps in building character and independence. By withdrawing from the litter, the mother gives her kittens time to start charting their own personalities. They get to gradually stop depending on her and mature both physically and emotionally.

However, if a cat is separated earlier, he is bound to suffer from anxiety. In the absence of his mother, you become the next best thing. The only way of dealing with the anxiety is by adopting a new mother; guess what, that’s you!

So don’t be surprised if a kitty who is barely two months old clings to you. Such a kitty constantly worries or is apprehensive about every new thing or situation. His only way of coping is by sticking to you for reassurance.

#6: Your Cat Could Be Feeling Insecure

Cats thrive on order and routine. It’s why they will eat and eliminate in almost a perfect timeline. They will pick a spot in the house where they sit and nap during the day. Come nightfall and they may scoot near the TV, judging you every time you change the channel.

These are just some of the activities that make a cat’s life enjoyable. It’s meticulous, and it runs like clockwork. So what happens when you make changes in your home? Changes such as rearranging furniture, getting rid of his favorite blanket, changing the litter box, altering his diet or worse still, moving to a new house or neighborhood.

When faced with such changes, your cat will surely feel insecure. He will require time to adjust, during which he may suddenly become clingy.

See Also: How to Introduce a Cat to a New Home

Clinginess can also be as a result of being nervous. A new pet in your house can lead to fear and uncertainty to your old cat. A new furry pet can present a threat, and your cat has to cement her position in the house.

If the new member is bigger and fiercer, your cat has no recourse but to find refuge in your company. Being close to you reassures him that he is not being replaced. Of course, this kind of clinginess fades as the pets get to know each other.

#7: It May Be a Sign of Boredom

bored cat

Different breeds require varying levels of exercise. Breeds such as Turkish Angora, Manx, Siberian, and the Savannah are known to be quite active. This can be challenging if your house is not cat-friendly and you spend most of your time away from them.

If they have nothing to play with or engage their minds, be sure that they will demand play the moment you step into the house. Being clingy could be their way of getting you to be attentive to their needs. They will be pawing at your feet, jumping up and down, and even chewing on your clothes just to get you to play with them.

How to Face a Clingy Cat

kittens playing with each other

Being clingy is an adorable trait, but it can become problematic if it’s allowed to persist. It can become disruptive to your work and be a source of nuisance in your home. A clingy cat can also become malnourished especially when he insists on feeding only when you are around. In general, an overly clingy cat does not usually make a good pet.

So, how do you face a clingy cat? Here are some tips:

  • Get to the root cause of the behavior. In most cases, you are the best diagnostician when it comes to your cat. Find out what changes have happened in your house that may have led to clinginess. If you have moved furniture or changed your cat’s meal schedules, then reintroduce him slowly.

  • Bringing in another pet can redeem the situation. This is especially true if you establish boredom as the trigger for clinginess. Your cat may take some time to welcome the new member, but once he does, the behavior can fade with the presence of a playmate who is always there day and night.

  • How about some tough love? Some cats are strong-willed and may not give up easily. The only option may be to withdraw yourself from their reach. Keep your doors locked and don’t give in to their meowing or tantrums. Let them walk it off!

  • Enlist a vet for advice. When the clingy behavior is accompanied by other signs that could indicate illness, then is time to bring in specialized help. Your cat could be in the early stages of a disease which can be cured or otherwise managed.

Wrap Up

white cat hugging his owner

It is possible for a once calm and independent cat to suddenly become all clingy. This is usually your cat communicating that something has changed and it is affecting his emotions. Being near you at every opportunity becomes the source of consolation, security, attention, and affection that your cat needs.

Triggers of such a behavior can range from emotional, environmental, and health-related among others. This behavior can be a distraction to your normal routine. Your best shot at dealing with it is digging out the source and putting the necessary measures to curb it.

As with every behavior modification activity, it may take some time and patience to fully diagnose and get rid of the behavior, but in the end, it is worth the effort. You can finally have your calm fur baby back!

Can your cat relate to any of the things that we have mentioned above? We would like to hear all about it. Also feel free to share any other concerns you may have with your cat’s clingy behavior. For this and more feedback, leave your comments below, and don’t forget to check out our article on how to help a depressed cat if you determine that to be the cause.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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