I’m sure many of you will agree that receiving affection from our cats is one of the best feelings in the world.
My cat is not very affectionate, so whenever she comes and sits on my lap I always feel overwhelmingly loved and appreciated.
However, a few weeks ago, I noticed my cat being so clingy all of a sudden. I’d always dreamed of these levels of affection, but this behavior seemed so weird and unlike her! This got me thinking… Why is my cat so affectionate all of a sudden? What has caused this sudden personality shift? Why is she now being so needy?
It turns out that a lot of things can cause a cat to become overly affectionate. It is common for cats to become clingy as they age or when pregnant. On the other hand, anxiety, illness, or attachment issues can cause them to seek reassurance and become very needy.
If your cat is showing clingy behavior, it is important to understand why.
What Is a Normal Level of Feline Affection?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of feline affection, we must understand what level of affection is deemed as “normal”. However, every cat is different and each will show different levels of affection in different ways. As long as they are not extremely over or under affectionate, you’ve nothing to be concerned about.
For example, my cat sits next to me but not on my lap, which is totally fine. She isn’t withdrawing herself and obviously likes sitting nearby, but is also not overly clingy. There is a perfect balance between being needy and aloof, which is a sign of a happy cat.
Moreover, a contented cat won’t be permanently clingy or always avoiding you. This will fluctuate depending on what is happening around them and their mood at the time.
For example, it is perfectly normal for cats to get more affectionate when:
- You First Wake Up: If you’re wondering “Why is my cat so affectionate in the morning?”, it is usually because they’re excited to see you after a long night. Besides, they know you’re the one that is going to be feeding them breakfast, and as master manipulators, they know being loving might convince you to feed them sooner.
- You Return Home from Work: Likewise, cats will often seem more affectionate when you first arrive home from work. Although many people assume cats are independent and don’t miss people, that isn’t the case! Extra affection when you first walk in the front door is completely normal and a sign of a happy cat that loves its owner.
- A Scheduled Playtime Arrives: Do you play with your cat at the same time each day? Cats thrive off routine and will know if you’ve forgotten about one of their scheduled playtimes. One of the ways they will remind you is by becoming more affectionate towards you.
If your cat is acting more affectionate during any of these times, this is completely normal and a sign of a happy cat. The problem arises when your cat wants so much attention all of a sudden and is acting clinging, overly attached, and out of character.
Why Is My Cat Suddenly Clingy?
You know your cat, and it will be obvious if it starts becoming affectionate all of a sudden. For example, I recently noticed my cat follows me everywhere and sleeps with me, which she never used to! This is a definite sign of clinginess that you need to get to the bottom of.
There is a whole host of possible answers to the question. From old age and pregnancy to anxiety and illness, here we take a closer look at each so you can help identify which one applies to your furry friend.
1. Your Cat is Getting Old
It is common for cats to develop new emotional needs as they age. Whereas they may have been happy to be relatively independent previously, their old age could mean they are craving extra love and attention. All of a sudden, they may not want to leave your side.
In most cases, this is nothing to worry about. As cats age, their sense of sight and sense of hearing deteriorate. This could mean they just prefer to stick with who and what they know. Being with you all the time gives them an extra sense of safety and security.
However, senior cats are more prone to developing a range of health conditions, and illness is another cause of cats becoming suddenly affectionate, which I will talk more about later. Therefore, if you do notice your older cat is suddenly clingy, you should take them to the vet for a general check-up just to make sure nothing major is wrong.
2. Your Cat is Pregnant or in Heat
If you have a non-neutered female cat, their sudden increase in affectionate behavior could be due to changes in their hormones. Specifically, clinginess and affection are linked with the hormonal changes that occur when they are either pregnant or in heat.
When your cat is in heat, you’ll sure know about it! You’ll notice your cat keeps meowing and rubbing against everything and keep trying to go outside. They are calling to the males in the neighborhood and leaving their pheromones everywhere to let them know they’re looking for a mate.
The hormonal changes make cats much more loving to their owners too. This is especially if you don’t let your cat outside as you don’t want an unplanned pregnancy. She’s hoping her clingy behavior and increased affection will be enough to convince you to let her hunt down a male.
Pregnancy in cats can be a little harder to notice, but also causes cats to become suddenly more affectionate. They may suffer from morning sickness and their appetite will increase as they are now eating for themselves and their unborn kittens. This, along with the kittens growing inside her womb, will cause weight gain and a physical bump may be present nearer the end of the pregnancy.
3. You Are Pregnant
Interestingly, cats get clingy when you’re pregnant as well! Many owners from all over the globe have reported this, so if you’re pregnant this could be a real possibility.
According to the experts, there are four ways that cats can sense pregnancy in their owners:
- They can detect hormonal changes that occur thanks to their highly attuned sense of smell.
- They notice subtle changes in your behavior and body language, such as mood swings or changes to your posture.
- They detect an increase in your body temperature, which is raised slightly during pregnancy.
- They can hear your baby’s heartbeat through your stomach during the final trimester.
Cats are thought to get clingy when pregnant as they are loving and protective. They know there is a new life inside of you and want to help you as much as possible. Moreover, you’re likely more available to give your kitty more attention as you’ll be resting more often. Your cat could see this as an offer for more and more affection.
However, pregnancy doesn’t automatically mean cats are so needy all of a sudden. All cats respond differently and some may become poorly behaved or aggressive if neglected during the pregnancy. Continue to love your cat and your baby and you shouldn’t have any issues when the baby is born.
4. Your Cat is Anxious
Anxiety is another possible answer to the question “Why is my cat so attached to me lately?”. A cat that is feeling nervous or fearful may look toward you for reassurance, causing them to want so much attention all of the time.
Cats can get stressed by all kinds of situations, and some are more concerning than others. For example, I always find my cat being clingy all of a sudden on bonfire night. She is terrified of the sound of fireworks! However, the next day she is back to her normal self.
Other temporary causes of stress include:
- An unknown person or animal visiting your house
- Traveling in the car or going to the vets
- Other loud noises such as thunderstorms or roadworks
In all of these cases, you don’t need to worry. Comfort your cat if she needs reassurance, and rest assured that once the stressful situation is over your cat will be right as rain again. However, if the overly affectionate behavior continues, something more permanent could be causing your cat stress.
Examples of more permanent changes include changing their feeding routine, switching to use different brands of cat food and/or litter, or moving the furniture around in your home. These might not sound like much, but cats love routine and familiarity; these things can really catch them off guard.
Adopting a second cat is another major cause of more permanent anxiety and stress in cats. This is especially true if the new cat takes dominance and makes your old cat feel pushed out. Be sure to give them their own litter trays, food bowls, and beds, and show them an equal amount of love and affection to try and encourage a good dynamic.
If your cat is stressed because of a change to its environment or routine, becoming overly affectionate is one of the obvious signs. But again, this isn’t true for call cats! Some cats withdraw completely, so if your cat is hiding and acting weird this could also be down to stress. Your cat sleeping more than usual is another obvious sign they’re feeling a little anxious than normal.
5. Your Cat is Feeling Unwell
If your cat is so needy all of a sudden, it could be that they are feeling unwell. As with stress, feeling poorly can make your cat turn to you for reassurance. However, this does depend on your cat and how they choose to display feelings of pain and discomfort.
Most cats hate showing they are vulnerable or in pain, and so this is probably the least likely reason on my list. Hiding pain is an instinctive behavior that has been passed on down through years of evolution. They want to look as strong and healthy as possible so they don’t become a target for nearby predators. Although there are no dangers like this in your home, the natural behavior persists.
Still, it is important to mention sickness as there are always exceptions to the rules. As such, there is a possibility this is what’s causing your cat to be needy and affectionate. Thankfully, it will usually be minor temporary illnesses that cause this behavior rather than any chronic or life-threatening condition. Examples include sickness bugs or urinary tract infections.
If your cat is sick, it’ll also exhibit other symptoms. This does depend on the disease or condition they have, but some general signs you can look out for in addition to being needy include unexpected weight loss, increased lethargy, or a loss of appetite. If at all concerned, it’s time to visit the vet.
6. Your Cat isn’t Getting Enough Attention
There is a chance your cat simply isn’t getting enough attention from you. They are acting needy and overly affectionate all of a sudden in an attempt to remind you that they’re there. It’s their way of trying to get you to give your time and attention to them.
Although cats are fiercely independent creatures, they still need to feel loved and as if they belong. Therefore, you need to take time out of your day to pet your cat and play with them to show them the love they deserve. Even just being in the same room as your cat gives them a feeling of companionship that makes them feel loved.
If your cat is suffering from a lack of attention, being overly affectionate is not going to be the only way they try to get you to notice them. And unfortunately, they can’t tell you how they are feeling with words. Therefore, in most cases, lonely and depressed cats start exhibiting destructive behaviors.
For example, they may stop using the litter box, start digging up your houseplants or aggressively knead your blankets or cushions. Is your cat running around like a maniac? This is another way they can try and grab your attention. Excessive vocalizations and scratching are also common signs.
Of course, there is an easy way to fix this – start showing your cat the love and attention it craves. You should be aiming to spend at least 15 minutes playing with your cat each day and more petting them. Moreover, make sure you keep their litter tray clean and water bowl topped up. This can go a long way in helping your cat feel cared for and appreciated.
7. Your Cat Has Insecure Attachment
Finally, your cat might have started wanting so much attention all of a sudden as they have an insecure attachment style. This is where your cat has not bonded well with you and suffers from separation anxiety. They think that every time you leave you won’t come back, which, as you can imagine, is extremely stressful.
As a response to this, cats with insecure attachment styles are overly affectionate and clingy with their owners. Does your cat get in your face while you sleep? Are they constantly following you around? Are they showing other signs of stress, like when cats bite their nails or groom excessively? These are all signs of attachment issues.
In most cases, this insecure attachment style is the result of a past trauma related to being abandoned by their owner or mother. Likewise, cats that have gone through multiple adoptions and rehomes tend to be more insecure about whether their owners do love them. However, even a lack of routine or not giving your kitty enough attention can cause them to feel anxious about your return.
The best way to overcome this is by spending quality time with your cat and establishing a good routine. After a while, your cat will learn to trust you and their new schedule, and gradually their fears about being abandoned will disappear.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
To summarize, big changes in behavior like suddenly becoming more affectionate and clingy need to be taken seriously. It often indicates your cat is unwell, feeling anxious, suffers from separation anxiety, or isn’t getting the attention they need from you. It is their cry for help that you must listen to.
Of course, it could just be that your cat is aging, pregnant, or in heat. If you’re pregnant, your cat might just be able to sense this and is showing more affection accordingly. In these cases, it is nothing to worry about. Simply enjoy the extra love and attention your cat is showing you – many owners aren’t as lucky!