An invasive cat that constantly seeks physical and visual contact with its human, and constantly meows to attract his attention… These are some of the manifestations of hyper-attachment. What are the solutions to this problem?
Cats are, of course, reputed to be independent and autonomous, but the fact remains that some of them can become excessively attached to their owners. They are often felines that are separated from their mother too early, insufficiently socialized or have suffered trauma.
It is possible to remedy this behavioral disorder by adopting good practices in order to establish a healthy relationship that is conducive to the animal’s well-being.
Here are some tips and tricks to help your cat overcome the feeling of hyper-attachment.
1. Do Not Overly Brood the Kitten
Fighting hyper-attachment in cats is first and foremost a preventive measure. In other words, we start adopting the right reflexes very early, when the cat is still a kitten. This is done first of all through feeding, especially if you have taken in a small orphaned feline and bottle-feed it.
In this case, the best thing to do is not to delay the transition to solid food as soon as the young animal is ready. That is to say around 3 to 4 weeks. This will help it to become more independent.
With the kitten, it is also advisable to avoid answering all his requests when he wants to be cuddled. It is not a question of depriving him of it, which would, on the contrary, only aggravate the problem, but of setting limits.
2. Ensure Good Socialization
Another preventive and indispensable measure for any pet is the attention paid to socialization. This process is extremely important for the construction of the cat’s personality and for its psychological balance.
Socializing your cat means giving it many opportunities to meet and interact with as many other cats, other animals and humans as possible. The best thing is to get him used to interacting with individuals of various ages, including children.
A cat that has not been properly socialized is at risk of developing various types of behavioral problems, including hyper-attachment.
3. Getting Used to Absences
The omnipresence of the master is not likely to help the cat become autonomous. It is therefore recommended to gradually accustom the kitten or older feline to absences, so that they are not badly experienced by him.
Concretely, it is a question of being absent, at the beginning, for short periods of time, while leaving the animal something to take care of (toys and others). The separation periods will then be gradually extended. The gradual and gentle aspect of this learning process is crucial to its success.
4. Making Departures Commonplace…
Because we sometimes tend to transfer our feelings and habits to pets, we risk setting up bad habits with them, such as “ritualizing” those moments when we leave the house.
You may start to drown your cat under the caresses and talk to it like a baby before going out. This is the best way to increase the distress once he’s alone because it reinforces the idea that separation is a source of anxiety for him.
What we have to do, therefore, is to desecrate the departures, to leave his home in the most banal way and without doing too much with the cat.
The idea is to make him understand that the separation is neither dramatic nor exceptional. Ignoring him when leaving, even if it may seem difficult, is an indispensable practice to help him get rid of his hyper-attachment.
5. … And Also Arrivals
Just like leaving, returning home should not be synonymous with joyful outpourings and moments of great emotion. The cat will, of course, be happy to be back with its owner, but the latter must learn not to respond immediately to his invitations to cuddle.
In practice, therefore, you go home, take the time to change and settle down, then you can take care of him while remaining reasonable in the manifestations of affection.
6. Provide Him with an Enriched Environment
Every cat needs to evolve in a rich environment, conducive to its development. In other words, a living environment where he is not only safe and has all the resources he needs, but where he also finds something to occupy his mind and stimulate his physical abilities.
Satisfying this need is all the more important with a cat prone to hyper-attachment.
To remedy this, it is also important to plan the cat’s territory by providing it with designated areas: a resting place (basket), high places where it can take refuge and observe what is happening around it, an adapted litter box, various games, as well as a place dedicated to meals (food bowls or dispenser, and water bowl or fountain).
The cat must have free access to all these areas, and have no fears about them, especially if he lives with other cats.
7. Keeping Control over the Manifestations of Affection
Fighting hyper-attachment in cats also means keeping control over moments of tenderness. It means not systematically responding to its requests when it demands caresses and attention.
Above all, it is important to decide for yourself when these cuddling sessions are over. Even if it is not always easy to apply, it is important to make the effort, because it is in the service of the cat’s acquisition of autonomy, and therefore for his good and his balance.
8. Medical Solutions
Since hyper-attachment in cats leads to psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression, medical solutions can be used to alleviate them.
Of course, only the veterinarian is authorized to prescribe medication that can relieve the cat that is anxious or depressed because of hyper-attachment.
He will generally direct his choices towards anxiolytics or antidepressants. In addition, phytotherapy can be useful in this area. Lemon balm, for example, can be given as an herbal tea or mixed with the cat’s food. But in any case, it is essential to ask the veterinarian for advice.