If your cat seems to constantly want your attention, and does crazy things to make sure he gets it, you may think that it’s simply a cute sign of his affection for you. A cat that displays some attention-seeking behaviour isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can soon move from cute, to annoying, to a serious problem, and may even indicate a medical issue. It’s essential to work out why your cat is behaving in this way, and make sure that you have ground rules in place, so that your cat knows what is and isn’t acceptable.
Types of attention seeking behaviour in cats
An attention-seeking cat may behave in a number of ways, and the following list gives a few examples, but he’ll basically try whatever he can to make sure the attention is firmly fixed on him.
- Excessive vocalisation – meowing, crying, caterwauling and generally making a whole lot of noise!
- Jumping up on places where he’s not allowed, like the dining room table or kitchen benchtops.
- Scratching and trying to ’dig’ if you’re on the other side of a door.
- Constantly begging for food and treats
- Pawing at people.
- Destructive behaviour.
What causes attention seeking behaviour in cats?
The most obvious factor to consider if your cat has suddenly started behaving in this way is whether he’s suffering from an illness or injury. If we’re ill, it’s easy for us to tell someone, take the appropriate medicine or go to the doctors. Cats can’t do this, so instead they try and get attention when they’re sick, out of confusion and the need for comfort.
If your vet has already ruled out any medical issues which might be causing your cat’s attention-seeking behaviour, what’s left to consider? Stress and anxiety are the most common cause of attention-seeking behaviour or it may simply be that your cat is bored. Separation anxiety is more common in cats than you might think, so consider whether your cat’s behaviour is down to the fact that he doesn’t like being alone.
How to correct attention seeking behaviour
The first step in correcting attention-seeking behaviour is to make sure that you’re in control; in a caring way of course! Whatever you do, don’t encourage bad behaviour by acknowledging it. This means that every time your cat displays attention seeking behaviour you need to stop yourself from interacting with him, which your cat will interpret as encouragement. By talking to your cat or picking him up to remove him when he jumps on the dining room table, you’re actually giving him the attention that he’s looking for. We all know that cats can be difficult to ‘train’, but if you ignore his bad behaviour and praise his good behaviour, you’ll soon start to see a difference in the way your cat acts. If you think the problem might be boredom, then make sure your cat has plenty to keep him occupied when he’s home alone, such as activity toys or cat trees, and when you’re home with your cat take the time out to play and interact with him.
Is your cat an attention seeker? Please share your stories below…
Image: tunaboat via Flickr