Help For the Velcro Cat (and You!)

Soothing your over-clingy feline.


So many people lament that their independent-minded cat doesn’t want more together time with them. But at the other end of the spectrum are those whose cats are so attached to them that they never have any peace. They can’t walk around the house without the cat weaving tight figure-8s around their legs. They can’t watch television without their pet draped across their neck. They can’t shut the bathroom door without the cat wailing piteously and scratching at the door.

If your cat is like that, don’t think of him as annoying. Think of him as overly anxious and worried about not having your company and attention. He’s suffering. How can you help him calm down?

To a certain degree the best response is counterintuitive. Your instinct may be to push him away or ignore his entreaties for reassurance. But paradoxically, indulgence in the form of short, intense bursts of attention can potentially help him feel more secure and less needy. Try spending a few minutes petting him or grooming him at a moment that he’s not engaged in trying to interact with you. It can imbue him with more confidence about your bond. Other tips:

  • Don’t make a big fuss when you leave the house. That only serves to make him think being separated from you for a while is a bigger deal than it is.
  • Rather than try to stop clingy behavior, provide distractions. If your cat won’t ever let you read or work at your computer, toss a shiny aluminum foil ball for him to pounce on and wrestle with. Distractions are much more effective than “No.” (It may take more than one toss of the ball.)
  • Find ways to accommodate the desire to be next to you without it interfering with your day. If your cats likes to hang out with you while you work, set up a cat tree right by your work station, or put a box on the desk with a towel in it so he can nestle comfortably while you move papers around.
  • Remain patient and gentle— always. And don’t yell at your pet. No matter how annoying clingy behavior can become, you’re only going to increase your pet’s anxiety if you send harsh signals that you don’t want his company.


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