Why is My Cat so Clingy? A Guide to Overly Needy Cats

Why is My Cat so Clingy? A Guide to Overly Needy Cats

Cats are notoriously labelled as independent and aloof creatures who need no one and take care of themselves. But as many of us cat owners know, although generally independent, cats are still loving creatures who very much need our love and affection. Many of us love an affectionate cat, but sometimes the dependency can be too much to handle. And don't get me wrong, not all affectionate cats are clingy and vocal. Knowing how to recognize an affectionate cat from a clingy one is the first step in knowing how to interact with your cat in the best way.

This guide will help you diagnose a clingy cat and outline steps to help your cat become more independent. Here, I write from my first hand experience with a very affectionate, yet needy Russian Blue kitten who started out glued to me 24 hours of the day. 


Signs Your Cat is Too Clingy:

  1. Follows you throughout the house, from room to room (if you find your cat a constant tripping hazard, this is a sign)
  2. Extremely vocal: Meows incessantly when you leave the room or close the door 
  3. Claws walls and doors to get your attention when you leave or close the door
  4. Constantly rubs themselves against you
  5. Doesn't let you leave the house
  6. Demands to be pet at all hours of the day
  7. Sits on whatever you are using, or you (all the time)
  8. Will not eat or drink unless you are with them
  9. Scratches and kneads you constantly

Not to be confused with a demanding cat, a clingy cat is emotionally needy and lacks the confidence to be independent. On the other hand, a demanding cat will do anything to get your attention (aggressively vocal, purposely causing trouble, jumping on you...etc.) so they can get what they want. In other words, a manipulative cat who wants what they want, when they want it.


Common Reasons Your Cat is Clingy:

Lack of Confidence 

Confidence is the key to independence. A cat that isn't comfortable being alone and keeping themselves entertained for any length of time may spend much more time than necessary trying to be with you.


There can be many causes of anxiety or stress causing clingy behavior. You may find that your cat clings to you or hides by your side when they feel scared or uneasy. It could happen during thunderstorms, when unfamiliar people are around or when pets/people who frighten your cat are near. It could even be environment-related, if the environment is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. In any of these cases, your cat may be looking to you for safety in the face of insecurity. Taking note of when clingy behavior occurs can help you identify if there is a particular thing, person or pet causing the behavior.

An alternative to keeping them at your side could be to offer them a space where they feel safe to tuck away. Calming cat beds is a growing trend, and with good reason. Fluffy, cushioned cat beds offer support and a naturally safe sleeping space for anxious cats. Cat hideaways are also a great choice for anxious cats who want a safe space to hideaway from their environment.

Paz Felt Cave, Noots

New Family Members

Cats feel safe when their days go as expected, with routines and familiar faces. Introducing a new family member to the household, whether a human or pet, can throw your cat off. Such a change can be stressful for cats and will require some time for them to adjust to the changed environment. 


Cats need mental stimulation and physical activity to keep their minds and bodies healthy. An under-stimulated cat may resort to destructive behavior or clinginess as a way of telling you he's bored. Remember, a healthy cat is a happy one. 

If you don't have one-on-one time to give or simply want to encourage independence, give your cat an interactive toy or space to play - We recommend the Lima Cat Tunnel and Figo Cat Shelves. Two products our cats enjoy most.

Lima Cat Tunnel, Noots


An illness may be to blame when their is a sudden change in your cat's behavior. It is advised to get your cat checked by a vet when you notice something is wrong, whether behaviorally or physically.  A good vet can diagnose the issue or point you in the right direction if it's a Cat Behaviorist you need. 

Early Trauma

If your cat experienced a traumatic experience early in life, this can have a large impact on their behavior. Abandonment or separation from the mother or littermates too early or abruptly can cause anxiety in cats, making it more difficult to adjust. Likewise, a rescue from an abusive home may display similar behavior.


Why Is My Cat So Affectionate All Of a Sudden?

A sudden display of affection might be nice to the one receiving it, but any sudden behavior change in cats could indicate a problem and should be carefully observed. If your cat becomes more affectionate out of the blue, any of the above reasons could be the cause. Some additional reasons could be:

Lack of Attention

Affectionate or needy behavior could indicate a cat who is looking for more attention.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations due to pregnancy or being in heat can impact how affectionate your cat may be towards you. 

Getting Older

Many cat owners report that their cats become more affectionate as they get older. It could be that they are settling down and becoming more relaxed, even less playful.


 Why is My Cat Being So Clingy and Vocal?

It's important to pay attention to your cat's vocalizations and try to understand what they are trying to communicate. If your cat's vocalizations have changed suddenly or if you are concerned about their behavior, it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.

Note, not all clingy cats are vocal. Some cats may show their clinginess by following their owners around or seeking physical contact, but may not necessarily vocalize. On the other hand, some cats may be vocal but not necessarily clingy. It really depends on the individual cat's personality and temperament.

Some cats may also become clingy and vocal in certain situations but not in others. For example, a cat may become vocal and clingy when their owner is about to leave the house, but may be more independent at other times.

It's important to remember that cats, like people, have their unique personalities and behaviors. Some cats may be naturally more vocal and clingy than others, while some may prefer to keep to themselves. Understanding your cat's individual personality and behavior can help you provide them with the care and attention they need to be happy and healthy.

Here are several reasons why your cat may be vocal, not all relating to neediness:


      Some cats may be vocal to get their owner's attention. They may meow or make other sounds when they want to be petted, played with, or given treats.


      Cats may also vocalize when they are hungry or want to be fed. They may meow or make other sounds to remind their owner that it's mealtime.

      Medical issues

      In some cases, cats may become more vocal if they are experiencing pain or discomfort due to a medical issue. If your cat's vocalization has changed suddenly or if they seem to be in distress, it's a good idea to take them to the vet for a check-up.


      As cats get older, they may become more vocal. This is especially true for senior cats who may be experiencing age-related health issues or cognitive decline.


      Some cat breeds are naturally more vocal than others. For example, Siamese cats are known for being very vocal.


        Most Vocal Cat Breeds

          Siamese cats are perhaps the most well-known vocal breed. They are known for their loud, distinctive meows and vocal personalities.

            Oriental Shorthair

            Oriental Shorthairs are another breed that is known for being vocal. They are closely related to Siamese cats and share many of the same vocal traits.


              Sphynx cats may not be as vocal as Siamese or Oriental Shorthairs, but they are still known for being relatively chatty. They have a distinctive, high-pitched meow that some owners find endearing.


                Burmese cats are known for being very talkative and social. They have a range of vocalizations, from soft purrs to loud, insistent meows.


                  Bengals are another breed that can be quite vocal. They are known for their unique, wild-sounding vocalizations, which some owners find charming.

                    It's worth noting that not all cats of a particular breed will be vocal. A cat's personality and individual traits can vary widely, even within the same breed.


                    How to Make Your Cat Less Clingy:

                    Don't give in...completely

                    Give affection but in moderation, only when your cat is well behaved. Be prepared to ignore your cat when their behaving in a way that needs correction (ie. clawing walls or meowing incessantly).

                    Practice physical distancing

                    If your cat is demanding attention all-day long even after you've provided it, you may need to practice some social distancing. This will help your cat learn that they will not always get your attention when they call. Over time and with consistency, your cat will become more independent. 

                    Encourage independence

                    Occasionally leaving your cat alone with some toys is a great way to encourage independence. Try to find toys that your cat enjoys playing with. Some interactive toys can be helpful in keeping your cat entertained when you are away or out of the room. 

                    Take it slow

                    It is really important to gradually increase the distance. You need to ease your cat into their new independence. Change can be shocking and stressful so it's important that you take it slowly. Pay attention to your cat and their behavior. 


                    Now this last one isn't for everyone but I personally used these techniques (out of pure necessity) and found they actually worked really well. When your cat is behaving badly in an effort to get your attention, doing extreme things like clawing walls, the following disciplinary measures can be effective. With consistency, your cat will learn not to continue the bad behavior. 

                    1. Compressed air (aimed away from the cat, always) or another loud alternative, can help deter your cat from repeating the bad behavior. Cats don't like loud noise (especially the unfamiliar) and will stop what they're doing. They will eventually associate the bad behavior with the disliked sound and avoid it altogether.
                    2. Water in a spray bottle (if your cat doesn't like water) 
                    3. Using a loud tone of voice. I have a tone when I tell my cat to stop doing what he's doing...Somehow, he understands it and usually quits his bad behavior. But cat's are notorious for not doing as told so this one may not work everyone, but it's worth a shot!  

                    Here is a photo of the damage my kitten did to the outside of my bedroom wall (and here I am trying to patch it). After some time of consistent use of the methods outlined herein, my needy cat became independent and to my delight, stopped clawing my walls. 

                    Why is My Cat so Clingy? Cat Wall Scratches

                    Do you have a clingy cat? Share your experience in the comments below.

                    Comments (12)

                    • Laura on May 10, 2024

                      We got Buddy in 2022 from a shelter. This poor cat had been abandoned in a house and was terrified. On top of that, because he didn’t get along well with other cats at the shelter he was kept in a bathroom by himself. When we took him home he hid under the bed for days. We started bringing him out and putting him in a room with us with the door closed so that he had no choice but to interact with us. It took a while but he came out of his shell. He is still very timid around strangers but with us he’s great. He is a great cat and he’s so loving. I feel so bad that his life started out so scary.

                    • Carrie Tagle on May 10, 2024

                      This describes my one y/o cat to a tee, right down to being a Russian Blue. When I adopted Zoe at 9 weeks old I chose her because she clearly enjoyed affection. I was hoping for an affectionate cat because my other cat, Phoebe, is very typically independent and only accepts affection on her terms. Well, I got an affectionate cat all right! She constantly calls me with meows and climbs me to rest on my right shoulder and get love. She’ll purr away and drift to sleep if I let her. It’s super sweet when I have time, but a bit much when I’m focused on my very stressful work from home job. Sometimes I have to close my door at night because her sister Phoebe likes to knock things off tables at night to get my attention. Well, Zoe doesn’t like being shut out so she’s ripped up big chunks of my carpet, plus she cries most of the night. She also mainly hides from my daughter when I leave town and hardly eats, drinks or goes potty. It also takes her months to get used to people and almost exclusively comes to me for affection. And I never have to worry about being lonely when I pee lol. I worry what she would do if anything ever happened to me!
                      I am going to try some of these helpful tips so thank you! I’ve tried some already to no avail but there’s still hope. Part of it may be that I empathize with her and may not be firm enough. Thank you for sharing!!

                    • Angharad on May 23, 2022

                      I rescued Pippin & his liter mates from under my porch. I fed their feral mom well, insuring she would have enough milk, then fed the kittens high quality food, had them all sterilized and vaccinated & found them good homes. I kept Pippin. We have been together 10 years now. Pippin insists on sleeping ON me 24/7. I work from home & this is sometimes tooooo much, especially when it’s HOT! I do put him on a chair sometimes and as long as I’m in the room he’s OK, but tries to sneak back to my lap. After 10 years I doubt I can change his behavior. Sometimes it good to have a clingy cat.

                    • rickie salazar on Feb 15, 2022

                      my cat meows constantly and wants picked up he loves hanging over my shoulder and being patted on butt i love him and dont mind but he wants held constantly and doesnt give up

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