Identifying and Solving Attention Seeking Behavior in Cats
The attention-seeking behavior in cats is annoying and sometimes even endearing. But either way, it is going to be a headache for you and harmful for your cat in the end. That being said, you should do needful to correct the behavior. The reason behind your cat’s abnormal behavior can also be an underlying health condition.
When you observe attention-seeking behavior of any kind, do not wait any longer to visit your vet and move forward with diagnosis and treatment. But if you rule out all the other medical conditions, your cat has developed a habit of doing peculiar unwanted things to get your attention like excessive meowing, knocking stuff from the kitchen platform, scratching at the door, and distract you from your work. Let’s now see how to deal with the behavior in detail.
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Identify the Cause
Attention seeking behavior can be observed in cats of any age. But in older cats, the behavior is especially associated with boredom. While other reasons include loneliness and reinforcement done unknowingly by your actions. If your cat has developed attention-seeking behavior, the following signs can be observed.
- Knocking things off from tables and counters
- Incessant meowing
- Keep walking around your legs in circles and rubbing too much
- Pawing, biting, and aggressive behavior
As mentioned earlier, your cat may be trying to indicate that he or she is suffering from an underlying condition like arthritis, kidney problems, dental disease, or central nervous system conditions. Along with the aforementioned signs, your cat may feel lethargy, hiding and hunching, or seem to have decreased interest in her surroundings. This generally indicates pain. Meowing with decreased interest is also a common sign of being in pain.
While for older cats this behavior is also due to age-related anxiety and cognitive dysfunction. They constantly demand to be petted by meowing too much, crying, and showing aggression. In this case, consult your vet to treat any underlying medical condition.
Moreover, ask your vet to check for vision problems with your senior kitty. Cats also excessively meow when they’re trying hard to know their surrounding with vision problems. Your vet will be able to tell you if this is the case. Make sure your kitty’s environment is enriched and is comfortable for her. Also, if it’s anxiety-driven behavior, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication and advise you to use pheromones.
Keep A Journal of Everything Cat
Keeping a close eye on your cat’s behavior helps a lot when diagnosing the issues and the reason behind attention-seeking behavior. Start jotting down when you first observed this behavior, what triggered that, and the change in the intensity of it over time.
Try to note down everything, this might not be helpful to you but it provides a good insight to a vet or the animal behavior specialist you consult. The following are some examples of how certain behavior can indicate the problem.
- Gnawing, aggression, and eating nonfood items indicates boredom
- Whining and meowing incessantly at night indicate your cat is lonely and wants to play or eat. Well, also keep in mind that some cats, like Siamese, are more vocal than others.
- When you keep a door closed of a room your cat is not allowed to be in from inside, she would scratch at it. This is because you might have responded to your cat and agreed to play with her or feed her in the past. Responding in any way reinforces the behavior and is the reason behind the attention-seeking behavior like scratching at the door.
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Ethan from CatLovesBest.com has a piece of practically stunning advice: “Ignoring them sounds inhumane because you know your pet is begging your attention. Well, ignoring undesirable behavior can go too worse in starting but don’t give up. Ignore their excessive meowing, demands to be petted, and aggression. If you don’t want a cat to be in a certain place, remove them immediately without any delay.”
Remember, No Punishments!
Beating or scolding them in a loud voice can make things even worse instead of curbing the behavior. When you punish or scold them, they actually are getting attention from you and your kitty’s tactic worked because you paid attention. Cats and dogs learn new behaviors from reward-based training and punishments in any form reinforce their unwanted behavior.
In addition, do not chase them if they make you run after them no matter what. This is a play for them. Also, don’t beat them even slightly, your cat might take this as a challenge and can become aggressive.
Reward Them When They’re Calm
Reserve your cat’s favorite treats for correcting the behavior. Offer verbal praises, petting, put them in your lap for sleeping, and all the other comfortable forms of praise and comfort when your cat is calm and relaxing.
When you start ignoring the undesired behavior and reinforcing acceptable behavior, your cat’s behavior will eventually be corrected. But it is important to keep in mind that your cat gets enough interaction with you. When you’re back from work and enter the room, give a little attention to your kitty, and soon after that a play with her. If you just ignore it, your cat will develop unwanted behavior to get your attention.
In addition, work out correcting behavior with all your family members. Educate and instruct them on what to do and what not to. Sometimes, some of your family members unknowingly may reinforce unwanted behavior in your absence and things get worse.
Your cat’s attention-seeking behavior is reinforced by your actions. Take into consideration everything about their behavior before you take any steps to curb it. There can be any underlying condition causing such behavior in them. If that’s the case, your vet can do the needful. In addition to what I’ve mentioned in the article, keep your cat’s environment enriched. Provide them enough vertical space and cat TV so that they can be themselves. Check for any litter problems. After all, compromising a little bit to make changes in your house for your feline and making efforts to keep them happy is the price for a beautiful bond between you two.