While cats as a species have developed something of a reputation for being stand-offish and even at times cold, this reputation is nowhere near true of every cat.
Yes, some cats require very little attention and barely need interaction with another soul to stay happy, but that’s certainly not every cat.
Many prefer to have company around, even if they don’t directly interact with that company.
Then there’s another end of the spectrum – cats who need quite a lot of attention to maintain optimum levels of happiness.
What level of attention your particular cat needs seems to depend partially on breed, though more or less comes down to the individual cat’s personality.
Not every cry for attention is made simply for attention.
Sometimes, cats will cry or whine, howl or throw a tantrum, because they want us to notice and fulfill other wants and needs they have.
This is why it’s important to identify the reason behind attention-seeking behaviour before it’s assumed that a cat simply wants more attention from you.
If you have a cat seeking attention to get something like food (other wants are listed below) – fulfill the want or need and your cat should end up in regular levels of attention-seeking territory.
If you’ve eliminated all other possibilities, meaning it must be that your cat simply wants more attention, and the amount is far more than you feel you can provide, needless to say, this is an issue you should immediately take steps toward resolving.
It’s detrimental to your cat if he or she does not get as much attention as he or she needs.
I’ve outlined a few different options you have in a case like this below.
Now let’s get into the nitty gritty!
Why does my cat want so much attention?
There are a few different reasons your cat may want a lot of attention:
- Your cat may be sick or not feeling well and trying to let you know.
- Your cat may be trying to get your attention constantly just because he or she knows you will give him or her food.
- Your cat may be bored, and using you as entertainment.
- Your cat may have too much energy and may be asking you to engage him or her in playtime.
- Your cat may just happen to like and need more attention than other cats.
How can I remedy the attention-seeking?
Since there really aren’t that many options, it’s actually quite easy to figure out which motive is the root of your cat’s attention-seeking behaviour, and from there, to fulfill the desire/need so your cat won’t require so much attention from you.
1 – Looking to figure out if your cat might be sick? Use the assessment techniques discussed in this article: Kitty Keeps Crying: How Do I Know If My Cat is Sick or Just Vocal?
2 – Suspect your cat might be trying to get your attention for some tasty grub? You might have accidentally trained your cat to beg for food! Don’t worry, though, if this is the case, you can 100% train your cat out of this behaviour!
3 – Think your cat might be bored? Try one solid day of entertaining your cat with toys and stimulation like videos for cats on YouTube, and no other attention.
If your cat doesn’t bother you because he or she was well entertained, you’ve got your answer: you’ve got to make your cat’s living circumstance more interesting than it is to keep your cat happier.
Looking for tips that outline how to do this? Try some of the ones discussed here: Bored Kitty? Hands-Off Ways to Keep an Indoor Cat Entertained.
4 – Think your cat may be trying to tell you he or she’s hyper and wants to play? Try engaging in playtime with your kitty more frequently and for longer periods of time to see if that helps reduce your cat’s attention-seeking behaviour.
This turn out to be the issue? Invest in a few toys cats can play with by themselves, as well as high-energy exercise toys so when your cat does play, he or she is drained of as much energy as possible (which will hopefully tucker him/her out).
5 – Tried everything else? Nothing seem to work? Your cat may just really like and need attention. What can you do about this to make your life easier and to make your cat happier?
My recommendation: get a second (or third) cat – one with a similar personality to your attention-loving cat – to keep that kitty company.
It can be lonely being the only cat in a household, or being the only attention-loving pet in a household, especially when we pet parents are out a lot of the day for work and other obligations. (See more of my thoughts on this in the section, “My cat’s a complete attention whore and I can’t handle it” below).
I don’t mind my cat’s attention-seeking: I mind that my cat…
Cries for attention
If your cat has been taken to the vet and you believe he or she is not sick, but think your cat could be begging for food all day, the simplest solution (in my personal experience), is getting a timed/automated cat feeder.
I bought the Petsafe Simply Feed, placed it on top of a stool, then attached a slow feeder toy, the Catit Food Maze, beneath (because my cats eat too quickly), and it solved the begging issues completely.
If you think your cat could be begging for playtime way too regularly for you to handle, try playing with your cat twice a day at exactly the same time every day.
If your cat stops whining other times, it may be the case that he or she is only crying for playtime, and so having the consistency (say once in the morning and once before bed) should mean your cat only cries for play when he or she expects playtime to happen at the two times a day you consistently play.
The resolution if you determine this is the case should be a lot more self-play cat toys scattered around the house, so your cat can play by him or herself if he or she wants to.
None of these issues seem to be the problem? Sure your cat is crying for attention just for attention’s sake? Not a fan of this behaviour, but fine with giving extra attention if it wasn’t for the crying?
The simple solution is this: train your cat that silence will get him or her attention by only giving out cuddles, affection, and love when your cat is quiet.
Cat throwing a whining-spree to get you to look his or her way? Don’t look.
Wait until the meowing stops, wait another couple minutes after that, then go pay attention to your kitty.
Don’t let yourself slip into the habit of only paying attention to your cat when he or she throws a crying fit or your cat will train itself that the only way to get attention is through crying.
Bites or scratches to get attention
If your cat bites or scratches you to get your attention, make sure to say, “No!”
When it happens, then ignore your cat. Or skip the, “No” and ignore your pet altogether when this happens.
Just like if your cat is meowing to get attention, ignore the behaviour you don’t like and when your cat is behaving in a way that you do like, then and only then give your cat attention.
Giving attention when a cat is biting and scratching will teach a cat these things get them what they want, and negative attention for some cats is better than no attention at all.
Make sure to give your cat plenty of affection when he or she is behaving.
Don’t forget to do this! As if you forget about being affectionate with your cat when he or she is behaving nicely, he or she may act out just to grab that attention back.
And again, don’t let yourself slip up: always ignore bad behaviours after the initial, “No!” or even from the beginning.
Otherwise, your cat may train itself to misbehave for attention.
Howls and meows loudly for attention
Yet again, confirm your cat is not crying for attention because it’s sick, or simply because he or she wants food, and if neither of those is true, make sure to ignore the bad behaviour and encourage good behaviour by only giving attention when your kitty’s being good.
Have issues with howls and loud meows at certain times of the day?
Early in the morning? Chances are good your cat is waking you up because he or she wants breakfast, and for no other reason.
How can you fix that? Change feeding times: don’t feed your cat first thing in the morning!
Wake up an hour or two before you have to leave and then feed before you take off, so kitty no longer associates waking you up with an immediate bite of kibble.
Late at night? Kitty may have got a burst of energy and want to play.
How can you fix this so it doesn’t keep happening? Make sure to help your cat get out playful energy during the day by engaging your cat in playtime during your waking hours.
You can also grab a few cat toys kitties can play with by themselves so if the cry for playtime happens at night, you can kick your cat into the living room to release his or her energy on the cat toys instead of you.
My cat’s a complete attention whore and I can’t handle it. What can I do?
Honestly, if your cat craves attention and you are a one-kitty household, you really need to consider getting a second cat.
Preferably one with the same kind of personality (snuggly or playful or outgoing combined with attention-loving) as the first so that they’ll get along.
Your cat needs a playmate if he or she is constantly vying for your attention and still not getting enough of it.
Have two cats in your household already? It could be that one of your cats isn’t into attention the same way the other cat is.
The attention-seeking cat may have no choice but to come to you for the attention he or she wants and needs if your other cat isn’t a fan of giving out much attention.
Again, the simplest resolution – in my mind – is to adopt another attention-loving cat with a similar personality type to keep the one you’ve already got company.
Have a cat with feline leukemia or another disease and thus feel you cannot adopt a second for that reason? Talk to your vet about potentially adopting a second cat with the same ailment.
To my knowledge, this should be a viable workaround, and you’d be doing the new cat a huge favour, since these cats are much more difficult to adopt out in the first place.
The only other options I can think of are to invite somebody over to play with and spend time with your kitty during the day while you’re out at work, to adopt a friendly dog if that’s something you’d prefer, or to allow your cat to become an outdoor cat if he or she is currently an indoor cat – if this is a safe option and something you’d strongly consider.
But it still seems to me that getting a companion attention-loving pet to keep your cat company is the best option.
What Would You Recommend to Attention-Loving Cat Owners?
Have you ever had a cat that’s really loved attention? Has it ever become an issue where you felt you couldn’t prove that cat with as much attention as it needed to keep it happy?
What would you recommend for pet owners in situations like this? Do you think adopting a second cat with a similar attention-loving personality trait is the only way to keep a cat like this happy?
What would you recommend those with multiple cats already do if they find one of their cats needs a lot more attention than the others?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments down below – your words could really help someone!