The relationship you enjoy with your pet can be one of the most rewarding you will ever experience. However, if you are starting to feel that you and your cat are symbiotically joined at the hip, it’s natural to be concerned that Mittens might love you a little too much.
Nurture plays an important role in how cats relate to their people in later life. Kittens weaned too early may compensate for this lack of early mothering by seeking extra attention and reassurance from their adopted mom or dad. Those separated from their mother before they are 8 weeks old are also more susceptible to developing separation anxiety when they grow up. Orphaned kittens hand-raised by human caregivers are also more likely to form close emotional bonds with their people in adulthood. It may feel disconcerting if your pal seeks an intense emotional relationship, particularly if you are accustomed to cool, nonchalant kitties, but this level of intimacy will feel natural to Felix if he has been accustomed to it since he was a tiny, helpless kitten. Loving mothers are also more likely to produce loving kittens. This may be partly genetic, but your pet may be very affectionate because he saw his mother head-butting and cuddling with her special people. In this case, his loving behavior means that he trusts you and feels comfortable expressing his feelings.
Some kitties are curious and independent and others are little love bugs who just want to curl up on your lap. While cats are more likely to be affectionate and trusting if they receive physical affection from people when they are kittens, scientists also believe that your pet’s personality is partly determined by genetics. According to the Feline Advisory Bureau, scientific studies indicate that felines inherit behavioral traits from their father. This is significant in terms of genetics because male cats don’t participate in their kittens’ upbringing.
Separation anxiety occurs when your pet loves and needs you to the extent that being separated from you causes her physical and emotional distress. Attention-seeking behavior just before you leave the leave and when you come home, eliminating outside the litter box, and vomiting when home alone are all symptoms of separation anxiety. However, it’s important to seek veterinary advice because the latter symptoms can indicate more serious medical problems. In extreme cases, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication, but behavior modification is an important first step toward alleviating separation anxiety. Making a fuss of Sheba before you leave home and immediately after you return exacerbates the problem, whereas by withholding attention during these times you are communicating to her that your departure is no big deal. Giving your pet interesting toys to play with when she is alone and one-on-one play sessions can also help.
The world can seem a more frightening place to your pal when he isn’t as young as he once was, leading him to seek extra reassurance and TLC from his special person. Even kitties who once displayed a feisty, independent streak may seek out extra lap time when those halcyon days of youth are gone. Shared naps and one-on-one play sessions help your pet cope with the stresses of aging. Excessive clinging may also be Mittens’ way of telling you he is feeling poorly, particularly if this behavior is uncharacteristic. It’s important to schedule regular veterinary checkups for kitties aged 7 and over because they are more susceptible to a range of medical problems, including arthritis, tooth decay and diabetes.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.