Returning home to your cat after a vacation is a pure joy and excitement for all cat parents, as I’m sure you would want to cuddle and wrap your arms around them. But why do they become so attached to you that it gets clingy, should you be worried about this?
Cats become clingy and very attached when they feel threatened and alone. This attachment is basically evidence that they care and love your presence when you are around them. Often after returning from a holiday or vacation the separation causes them to get attached to you as a way to prevent you from leaving again.
This initial behavior is quite normal and is basically them trying to tell you that they missed you and they disapprove of being separated from you. This clingy attachment is a way for them to seek approval and your assurance. Most of the time it will fade away after a few days once they have calmed down and realized that you have not left forever. However, it becomes a concern when this behavior affects their urination, eliminating in inappropriate places.
In some cases with cats who are left alone at home, they can go through a lot of stressful situations while being at home.
- Thunderstorms can really frighten cats.
- Fireworks, since people go on vacations during Christmas and the New year period.
- Being alone at night any shadow or noise can cause panic and fear.
- The feeling of separation and abandonment.
These situations can really affect them to the point where they don’t feel safe at all, this can leave them feeling sad and abandoned which can negatively affect their mental health.
So when you return home after a holiday, they seek refuge from you as you are their safety. These are often cats that are socially dependent, and won’t do well alone. In this situation, you can look for other accommodation arrangements for the well being of your pet.
Check out my list of great pet hotels and other options that you can use to make sure your pet is safe while you away.
Also, people who leave their cats alone normally get someone who would pop by to feed and check on them daily. In this situation the new face and strange scent is unfamiliar and confusing but when you return they can identify someone known and they cling to you.
Clingy behavior is one of many ways cats display their emotion. Some cats act strangely, some will avoid you and some cats may become depressed once you return home. This is very common and should be resolved after a few days. If your cat is showing concerning signs of behavioral differences out of his or her character you would want to monitor these changes for a few weeks and if it doesnt change, consult with your vet.
Very Rarely, but possible your absence could’ve triggered underlying problems like separation anxiety or behavioral issues. In extreme cases the cat will need a behavior therapist to help eliminate this kind of behavior.
Post Vacation Separation Anxiety.
According to Nicholas Dodman, Director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, chronic clinginess can lead to full-blown separation anxiety for some sensitive cats. So if you constantly traveling and leaving your cat alone this clingy behavior is going to become more normalized and chronic and could lead to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety is when the cat becomes stressed, depressed and anxious when they are separated from there owners. This can be caused by a number of different things, in this case its “change” in environment, the absence of their companion.
Signs of separation anxiety:
- Excessive vocalizations.
- Destructive behaviour.
- Urinating in inappropriate places.
- Too attached or clingy.
- Not eating or drinking when owner not present.
Ways to Treat Clingy Behavior In Your Cat?
Some cats are generally not clingy but present with clingy behavior after a change in routine. In this case, your absence while on holiday caused a change in your cat’s normal routine, therefore, resulting in the cat feeling lonely, stressed and afraid. So when you returned home they became attached to you in fear of losing you again. Ways to treat this behavior include:
- Allow the cat to have its way and adjust accordingly. They may follow you for about a week but will eventually relax.
- Give your cat assurance and affection they were deprived of when you weren’t there.
- A simple calming collar or a pheromone spray could help them ease their anxiety. You can have a look at my list of safe sedatives for cats.
- Make changes to the cat’s normal routine. Prior to leaving and when returning home, the owner or companion should ignore the cat to an extent, after all it is the removal of the owner’s attention that causes the stress, and therefore being focussed on the cat most of the time the owner is there will actually worsen the problem rather than make the cat feel more secure.
- You would notice that when your cat is clingy they become demanding and meow to get things their way. Allow them to be demanding for the first week paying careful attention to their actions. If the behavior doesnt go away stop giving him/her what they want even when they meow or follow you wherever you go.
- Practice positive reinforcement by using treats or toys as rewards. You should also discourage clingy behavior wherever possible. For example, if the cat meows to be by you simply ignore it. Also when the cat follows you try to create separation barriers like closing the door behind you.
- If by all means this don’t work and the clingy behavior still continue then book a consultation with your vet for a possible diagnosis and treatment method. Most of the time they will refer you to a behavior therapist. Which could set you back a few hundred dollars.
Ways to Prepare for your Next Vacation?
For your next vacation prepare in advance so the cat will be more stable and entertained while you are gone. These distractions could minimize the extent of your absence.
If your cat doesn’t do well alone, it would be good to check them in a pet hotel or provide enough stimulation to keep them occupied while at home.
- Leave a few of your belongings around the house where it is within the cat’s reach. This clever trick will help the cat smell your scent even when you aren’t at home.
- Get a window perch and have it conveniently set up. Cats love sightseeing but make sure the cat is used to this place and can easily reach it.
- Get plenty of interactive toys that your cat won’t be able to resist. Toys that are motion censored that ignites their predatory instincts. Like the life-like motion fish or the Interactive Rotating Catch.
- Work with your cat’s veterinarian if you notice any unfamiliar repeated behavior such as excessive attachment, vocalizations, unpleasant urination, or any compulsive behavior. Try to resolve the matter before you head out.
- Get a good calming collar that will help emit pheromones that mimics their natural scent. This can help them relax. Calming collars work really well because it can last up to 30 days.
- Leave the Radio or Television on, on the usual station.
- Have someone come check in on them regularly. It’s good to have that person get used to the cat before the actual holiday. This will give the cat a familiar face to recognize.
- Make the place cat-proof but removing any possible dangers and include a play area. Here are ways to keep your cat entertained while you away.
- If you going on vacation over the December period going into the new year. Have someone administer a sedative for the cat to deal with the stress of fireworks which are commonly lit when welcoming the new year.