Let’s be honest, family members can be annoying at times, and cats are no exception. From sitting on your lap when you go to the bathroom, to staring at you when they knock things over your desk, cats have their weird ways of getting your attention.
Attention-seeking behaviors often begin as instinctive behaviors that develop into repetitive and annoying habits as they react.
Cats who engage in frequent attention-seeking behaviors may become bored and need more mental and physical stimulation.
Attention seeking is sometimes a sign of a health problem, so schedule an examination with your veterinarian before attempting to eliminate the behavior.
We love them no matter what, but this attention-seeking behavior can be frustrating, even for the most patient among us. Let’s look at some of the typical ways your cat might try to get your attention, why they do it, and what to do about it.
Feline attention-seeking behavior
Cats have several reliable methods of attracting attention. Some typical ones are:
reasons for seeking attention
We’ve briefly looked at what kind of patience-testing tricks your cat might play, but why is your cat seeking attention? Here are some common causes:
1. Learned Behavior
Attention-seeking activities often begin as instinctive behaviors that develop into repetitive, dare we say, annoying habits because they get a response. For example, have you ever tried to sit at your desk and work, only to find that your cat joined you, dropping all kinds of stuff on the floor? Or maybe your cat likes to act as a personal alarm clock and knock things off your nightstand.
This tactic will definitely get your attention because not only is it noisy and distracting, but it can also be dangerous.
This behavior stems from a cat’s natural predatory instinct. Think of the eraser on your desk like a mouse. Your cat needs to investigate and hit it a little to see if it’s something they want to kill and eat, or if it’s dangerous. Cats are also naturally curious, so any new object on the surface requires investigation and even play.
While knocking things off surfaces may initially be an instinctive, mentally stimulating behavior for cats, they quickly associate the action with your response. We often unknowingly encourage these behaviors because some things just can’t be ignored.
Even just taking a look at what your cat is doing can be rewarding enough. Cats love it when we pay attention to them, so once they learn a quick and effective way to get responses (yes, even negative ones!) from their favorite humans, they stick with it.
Also read: Why do cats knock things off tables? 7 reasons!
2. Family affection
Affection is the number one reason cats seek attention. Your cat loves you and has learned some surefire ways to get your attention. That’s not to say she doesn’t usually get your attention, but she has learned a few ways to get that extra, on-demand attention. This behavior can become repetitive because your cat simply can’t get enough of the good stuff!
Also read: 9 Unmistakable Signs Your Cat Loves You
Cats need mental stimulation. Excessive attention-seeking behavior may be a sign that your cat needs more environmental enrichment. Methods of mentally stimulating cats include:
Also Read: 10 Best Slow and Puzzle Feeders for Cats
Your cat may turn to you for comfort when sick. While many cats hide when they’re sick, some crave a little extra touch and physical warmth.Vocalization can also be a sign of disease, such as urinary tract problems, Hyperthyroidism (hyperthyroidism), or cognitive dysfunction (dementia).
But how do you tell the difference between attention-seeking behavior and illness? It’s not always easy.The key is to look for changes in behavior and any other Signs Your Cat May Be Sick Examples include lethargy, loss of appetite, and frequent trips to the litter box.
If your cat is behaving erratically or if your cat shows any signs of discomfort, have your veterinarian do a health check to rule out illness.
5. Stress or anxiety
For some cats, being anywhere but their favorite people can cause anxiety. So while their behavior may be a little frustrating, you may need to gently address underlying stress and anxiety issues.
Changes in your cat’s surroundings (such as a move) or family members (such as a new pet or baby) can stress you out and cause your cat to seek extra attention. Of course, it’s not always possible to eliminate these stressors, but you can help minimize their impact by introducing them gently, making sure your cat has her own space when she needs it, and providing plenty of interaction on your terms.
If you think your cat may be suffering from stress or separation anxiety, they can benefit from sedatives such as pheromones or even anxiety medications. Talk to your veterinarian for advice on how to best manage your cat’s stress.
READ ALSO: 5 Visual Signs of a Stressed Cat and How to Help
How to Cope with Attention-Seeking Behaviors
Thus, you’ve ruled out any underlying health or anxiety issues and made sure your cat has an enriching environment. What should we do now? Well, get ready to be patient and consistent!
Discouraging attention-seeking behavior is all about rewarding the cat with attention when it’s not engaging in these frustrating activities, so you’re effectively teaching your cat to get your attention when it doesn’t need it.
More specific tips for reducing attention seeking (and your depression levels) include:
- Provide sufficient environmental enrichment, Even if you think your cat isn’t bored.
- Using Bitter Apple Spray Prevent chewing and eating non-food items.
- have a fixed routine Manage expectations for feedings, playtime and lap times.
- Invest in an automatic feeder If your cat is pestering you for food, rule out real hunger.
- Try to preempt changes in the cat’s environment This can be stressful, and use a calming pheromone spray or diffuser before the event.
- Find Out Your Cat’s Favorite Toy Yes and start game time on your terms.
It’s also important to mention that some breeds (notably Oriental and Siamese) are famous talkers. If you have these, be prepared because you are unlikely to change their chatty ways!
Also read: What does it mean when a cat rubs against you?
The first few attention-grabbing antics can be endearing, even funny, but they inevitably start to feel a little bland. Although your cat’s behavior may be frustrating, it can be helpful to know that they don’t mean to annoy you.
Your cat is communicating with you and most likely trying to get your attention because they have a strong bond with you. However, try to find out if there are underlying issues, such as health issues, separation anxiety, or boredom, as these need to be addressed directly.
Also read: Is Your Cat Lonely?These 7 signs will help you find out
frequently asked questions
How can I make my cat less annoying?
While easier said than done, discouraging attention seeking involves ignoring the behavior and making sure you are rewarded when the cat doesn’t need it. Enrichment is also important, so make sure to provide your cat with plenty of other things, such as food puzzles, climbing frames, and scratching posts.
Also try to determine if there is an underlying problem, as this needs to be addressed first. Does your cat get sick or stressed? Is this a change in behavior? The best place to start is to make an appointment with your veterinarian for a health check.
Why does my cat do things that annoy me?
Although your cat’s behavior may be frustrating at times, they don’t actually want to be annoying. They are trying to convey something to you. Chances are, your cat loves you and enjoys your attention, but they may be bored and need more mental stimulation, or they may not be feeling 100% and need a vet check-up.
How to make a cat shut up?
This can be tricky! First, check that all of your cat’s needs are being met, such as bowls filled with food and access to the litter box. Also have your veterinarian examine your cat to rule out medical causes for the excessive meowing.
Once you’ve ruled out these factors, you can start trying to avoid drawing attention to your cat for meowing. This is easier said than done, but be consistent and only pay attention when your cat is quiet.
It’s also worth noting that some breeds, like the Siamese, are especially talkative. If your cat is chatty, there’s probably not much you can do except try to enjoy the conversation!
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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