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Heading out to enjoy summer is all great and fun until you have to leave your furry friends behind. Although this is bitter-sweet, I must say arrival is always welcomed with anticipation as you never really know how your furball will react at the first glance of your sight.
It’s common for cats to behave differently when returning from vacation since they are very structured and routined in general. A change in their environment can result in all sorts of behavioral tendencies which can include clinginess. This clingy attachment allows them to seek approval and assurance after a period of absence.
Cats can go through a lot of stressful situations when left alone. Clinginess could be the result of such situations making them feel alone and threatened.
Often after returning from a holiday or vacation, the separation causes them to get attached to you as a way to seek refuge and prevent you from leaving again.
This attachment is basically evidence of how your absence can mentally affect your well-being.
It’s important to know that you are your felines’ safety. You are the one whom they run to when they are hungry when they want to play and also when they feel threatened and endangered.
Whatever the case may be, they will cling to you as their escape and safety regardless of the situation.
Most of the time this attachment 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, and elimination of inappropriate places.
Above All, It’s important to note that there are many reasons for clingy behavior. let’s discuss some of the possible reasons to get a clear picture of what the causes may be.
Potential Reasons For Clinginess.
Cats are very routined pets and they love familiarity. Any changes or alterations to their daily lifestyle can negatively affect them.
They are very fond of their owners and they adequately adjust to the lifestyle you have accustomed them to.
In this case, your absence while on vacation can leave a void in their daily routine causing them to stress.
This experience becomes even more traumatic when they have to go through situations all alone without your reassurance and constant support.
Cats who are left alone at home can go through a lot of stressful situations which can negatively affect their mental health causing stress which can even lead to chronic stress.
Situations such as:
- 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 anxiety and abandonment.
- Change of routine and lifestyle.
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 leads to a downward spiral.
So when you return home after a holiday, they seek refuge from you as you are their safety. They become socially dependent, and won’t do well alone at least for the first week or so.
2. Separation Anxiety.
Separation anxiety is when the cat becomes stressed, depressed, and anxious when they are separated from their owners.
This can be caused by many different things, in this case, its “change” in the environment, the absence of their companion.
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.
Cats need companionship and the lack of it can result in a very fragile and fearful cat. The overwhelming feeling of anxiety manifests in fearful behaviors. Your cat might act nervous and skittish.
As a result of this overwhelming emotion, they become very attached to the point of being clingy.
Signs of separation anxiety:
- Lack of interest.
- Destructive behavior.
- Urinating in inappropriate places.
- Too attached or clingy.
- Not eating or drinking when owner not present.
No matter how cute and cuddly cats may be, they are still animals and they need stimulation to feed their natural instincts.
Cats are outdoor animals that over the years have adjusted to being indoor-tamed pets.
Out in the wild, they are reliant on themselves to provide, protect, and hunt for their daily needs.
These capabilities are all locked up in your cat even though they are indoor pets. The need for stimulation is to fulfill their cognitive functions and stimulate their predatory instincts.
The lack of proper stimulation can result in all sorts of unwanted behaviors and tendencies. Clinginess is one of the ways in which boredom can manifest.
The simple, silly pet toys don’t really interest them anymore. They require interactive toys that will stimulate them effectively, and if this isn’t provided they will search out for other ways to fulfill their urge.
4. Lack Of Attention.
Cats love attention and affection from their owners. They will sit on your lap, rub themselves on you, or even lick you.
Since they are so used to you being around, this social dependency becomes a norm. Now that you are away from them they miss out on the close interaction and relationship you both share.
This can cause them to become overly affectionate and clingy when you arrive. Possibly like a make-up session to follow you around demanding your attention.
This clingy behavior is normally short-lived, and the behavior should correct itself.
5. Different Scents.
Cats recognize their owners by scent. They are constantly sniffing around as this is their way of learning about a specific environment.
Normally when you return home after a vacation, you will come with all different types of scents depending on your travel location and environment.
Cats can smell this change and will want to enquire more. They are really attracted to scents since their anatomy is structurally orientated to analyze and communicate using scents/pheromones.
This could possibly be the reason for their constant attachment and clingy behavior.
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 caused a change in your cat’s normal routine, resulting in the cat feeling lonely, stressed, and afraid.
So when you return home they become 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 the assurance and affection they were deprived of when you weren’t there.
- 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,
- 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.
- Practice positive reinforcement by using treats or toys as rewards. You should also discourage clingy behavior wherever possible. For example, if the cat becomes overly affectionate simply ignore it or exit. Also when the cat follows you try to create separation barriers like closing the door behind you.
- If this doesn’t work and the clingy behavior continues, then book a consultation with your vet for a treatment method. Most of the time they will refer you to a behavioral therapist, which could save you a few hundred dollars.
Ways to Prepare For The 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 ignite 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 mimic their natural scent. This can help them relax. Calming collars work really well because they can last up to 30 days.
- Leave the Radio or Television on, on the usual animal 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 by removing any possible dangers and include a play area. Here are ways to keep your cats entertained while you are 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.
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. It’s important to be patient and allow them to ease back to their normal routine.
If your cat is showing concerning signs of behavioural differences out of his or her character you would want to monitor these changes for a few weeks and if it doesn’t change, consult with your vet.
Very Rarely, 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.