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How to Deal With Attention-Seeking Cats: Reasons & FAQs


May 4, 2023
Cat welcomes his owner at home


Cat welcomes his owner at home

Cats add an atmosphere of cheer and playfulness to your house and can lower stress levels. However, owning one or a few cats has its caveats, especially if the cats are overly affectionate and can’t get enough attention.

Attention-seeking cats can go from adorable to a nuisance in a finger’s snap.

If you’ve had enough of your cat waking you up at ungodly hours or meowing through the night, this article is for you. Read on to learn how to deal with this behavior.


How Do Cats Seek Attention From Their Owners?

Cats seek attention from their owners in several ways. Some of the most common ones include the following:

1. Excessive Vocalization

The most common way for cats to seek attention is to meow excessively. This could indicate hunger or that the cat wants to play.

owner petting a hissing angry tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

2. Circling Your Legs

Cats often circle their owners’ legs and block their path when seeking attention. Sometimes this can be dangerous because there’s always the risk of you trampling or tripping over them. Be extra careful with your movement if your cat displays this behavior.

3. Pawing on You

Cats who want their owners’ attention may also paw or scratch their owners or objects near them. Pawing is fine, but excessive scratching could ruin your favorite furniture and carpets. Discourage scratching behavior the moment you notice it before it gets out of hand.

cat scratching furniture
Image Credit: RJ22, shutterstock

4. Jumping on High Surfaces Near You

Cats will jump on surfaces like countertops and tables near you to get your attention. They especially target surfaces typically off-limits just to work you up. Consider locking your cat in a room with its favorite toys to stop this behavior.

Cats also show disruptive behavior, like knocking down objects or playing with cables when trying to get your attention. It’s important to address this behavior immediately. You never know when it may knock down something important or expensive.

5. Kneading

Kneading is only adorable when you’re not resting or focusing on something important. If your pet wakes you up at 3 AM, it is best to lock it out of the bedroom.

cat lying on passenger seat in a car while kneading owner's hand
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock


The 4 Reasons for Cats Seeking Attention

Understanding the reasons for your cat’s attention-seeking behavior is the first step in dealing with it. The following are some common reasons why your feline friend won’t let you be.

1. The Cat Is Hungry

Your cat may be meowing excessively and pawing on your feet simply because they’re hungry. Maybe the last time you fed your cat was hours ago, and the poor kitty just wants to fill its rumbling tummy.

However, in some cases, the feline is likely addicted to its treats. Like humans, cats also have food addictions that sometimes get the best of them. This addiction means they won’t leave you alone unless you feed them their favorite treats.

2. It Wants to Talk

Some cats are inherently chatty and enjoy back-and-forth conversations with humans even though neither understands the other.

This is especially true for Siamese cats and other oriental breeds that can’t seem to sit quietly. While their excessive vocalization is completely natural, it can sometimes get on your nerves.

cat owner looking at her pet
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

3. Stress and Anxiety

Cats have yet to reach the emotional complexity of humans, but they can still get stressed and anxious. If you notice abrupt attention-seeking behavior, your cat is probably stressed and anxious.

This mostly happens when you introduce something new to the house. Maybe you decided to adopt a new cat or have a new roommate.

Cats can also get stressed when you buy a new device that makes strange noises or when you switch up its usual routine. Cats will seek your attention when stressed for reassurance and protection.

Removing the stressors from the house will stop the attention-seeking behavior. However, if that isn’t an option, you can try minimizing the cat’s interaction with its stressors until it gets used to them.

4. Natural Behavior

Attention-seeking in cats doesn’t have to be excessive meowing, pawing, or running circles around your leg. Some cats seek attention in more annoying ways, like scratching on furniture.

It’s easy to get worked up when this happens, but remember that this is only natural, and they can’t help themselves. Cat’s scratch surfaces to express emotions like stress and excitement. Sometimes they do so to spread their scent and mark their territory, which explains why your new sofa is their preferred scratching pole.

Tortoiseshell-tabby cat prepares to jump onto something she is stalking
Image Credit: SJ Allen, Shutterstock


The 5 Ways to Tone-Down Your Cat’s Attention-Seeking Behavior

Most people want a cuddly and affectionate cat, but only if they can leave you in peace when you need to focus or relax. Here are a couple of ways to mitigate attention-seeking behavior in cats.

1. Create a Regular Feeding Schedule

If your cat is seeking attention because it’s hungry, you probably have been underfeeding it. Most cat parents feed their cats on a whim, which doesn’t work for the best.

Having a regular feeding schedule ensures your cat is well-fed throughout. This reduces the chances of it waking you up too early or disrupting your focus when studying or working. Also, slow down the treats to avoid addictions.

cat owner feeding her pet cat
Image Credit: Milles Studio, Shutterstock

2. Ensure Enough Physical and Mental Stimulation

Cats are extremely curious creatures, always out and about and getting into all sorts of trouble. Without ample physical and mental stimulation, it’s only natural for them to seek attention.

Ensure you give your cat enough toys and scratching posts to stimulate them mentally. Also, create multiple perch sites to create an almost natural environment conducive to physical activity.

You should also spend enough time with your cats, playing or napping. If you can’t, consider getting another feline to keep your furry friend company when you’re too busy or away from home. Doing so will go a long way toward curbing attention-craving behavior.

3. Ignore Attention-Seeking Behavior

Entertaining your cat’s attention-seeking behavior will only encourage it. Ignore your cat whenever it starts seeking your attention by jumping on countertops, meowing excessively, pawing on your legs, and so on.

Instead, entertain it when it’s calmly perched on its favorite spot. Do this consistently, and it will learn that you don’t take well to annoying behavior.

cat waking up his owner
Image Credit: Kasefoto, Shutterstock

4. Reward Proper Behavior

Your cat will start to behave appropriately if you stand firm on not entertaining attention-seeking tendencies. Capitalize on this behavioral change to reward good behavior and encourage more of it.

It deserves a reward if it sits calmly and plays with its toys and other cats without disturbing you. Reward it with its favorite treats when you notice good behavior. Doing so is a form of positive encouragement that will encourage and instill a toned-down attitude.

5. Visit the Veterinarian

Sometimes attention-seeking behavior may indicate something more serious. Cats will also seek attention when they’re injured or feeling unwell. This is especially true for cats with hyperesthesia that show overt agitation and restlessness.

Hyperesthesia is a condition where some parts of your cat become extremely sensitive. You’ll notice that your cat flinches abnormally when you pet it.

Cats with hyperesthesia also have rippling skin and dilated pupils. Take your cat to the nearest vet for prompt treatment and to end its attention-seeking predispositions.

veterinarian examines cornish rex cat
Image Credit: Maria Sbytova, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

Cats are loving and affectionate creatures, so don’t get too annoyed when they won’t leave you in peace.

Some cats experience phases where they become too clingy to their owners, but these phases are short-lived, and the cat will likely assume normal behavior in a while. Talk to your vet if you can’t stop your cat’s attention-seeking behavior.

Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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