Popular opinion dictates that a happy, contented cat will be largely indifferent to humans. Most cats will acknowledge an owner upon sight, and then return to their business. A cat following you from room to room should be an exceptional circumstance, not the norm.
If your cat is following you around, it wants something. Ensure that you have not missed a scheduled meal or playtime. The cat may want more attention, especially if bored. Some cats follow you because they are afraid of something they saw or heard. The cat may also be curious about what you’re doing or looking for new territory.
A cat following you around all of a sudden is a behavior that can be stopped by understanding the cause. Do not ignore your cat or shoo it away. Learn why your cat is shadowing you and make some adjustments.
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Why is My Cat Following Me Everywhere?
Most of the time, a cat will follow you around the house because it wants something from you, such as food. Check the time when your cat is at your heels. You may be running behind a previously established schedule.
If your cat has eaten, there could be a range of other explanations for the behavior. Review your cat’s lifestyle to ensure that it is happy and calm.
A cat that follows its owner around may simply be bored. This is likeliest with indoor cats. Keeping a cat inside all day is safer than allowing it to roam outdoors unattended. It can be dull, though. The cat is following you as it hopes you will provide entertainment.
Boredom is not just a frustrating experience for a cat. It can be dangerous. Bored cats often become depressed and withdrawn. This will lead to stress and anxiety, which places strain on a cat’s heart. Aside from following you around, warning signs that your cat is bored include:
- Excessive grooming
- Destructive behaviors
- Eating to excess
- Aggression (toward owners and other animals)
Boredom should be managed through prevention, not cure. Keep your cat stimulated before it has the opportunity to grow restless. This is especially important if you cannot physically be with your cat all day.
If your cat spends all day inside, it cannot hunt. Of all a cat’s instincts, the desire to stalk and capture prey is the strongest. Sate a cat’s wild instincts by making time for play.
The Journal of Veterinary Behavior recommends play sessions of five minutes or longer. Many experts say that two play sessions of twenty minutes are ideal. Consider reducing this time and increasing the frequency of play for senior cats. Older felines tire easily.
The obvious benefit of play is that it tires out your cat and strengthens your bond. In addition, it satisfies the feline instinct to hunt. Cats stalk favored toys in the same way they would hunt wild mice or birds. As a result, play provides similar mental satisfaction.
This is because hunting floods a cat’s brain with dopamine. The anticipation that accompanies the hunt is matched only by the joy of capturing prey. Playtime will leave a cat profoundly sated. Your cat will relax and doze, unencumbered by boredom.
Cats need to be mentally stimulated, especially when they grow older. Senior cats cannot physically exercise as much as they may like. Combat this by ensuring your cat has plenty to think about.
Mental stimulus involves provoking your cat’s senses. Sight is the easiest sense to captivate. Leave curtains and drapes open. Your cat will pass countless happy hours watching birds through the window. Restrict this viewing if the cat grows over-excited.
Taste and touch can be stimulated through puzzles and games. Any reputable pet store will stock a range of these. Oftentimes, the cat will need to learn a series of actions to obtain a treat. You could also create treat-centric treasure hunts for your cat.
Sound can also be key to keeping a cat entertained. Do not leave a cat in silence all day. At best, the cat will grow restless. At worst, it will be frightened by loud noises from outside. Applied Animal Behavior Science confirms that cats enjoy music designed especially for felines.
Never forget the power of scent. Cats have powerful noses, so pleasant smells will attract attention. Essential oils can provide this stimulation, as long as you use them safely. Scents that cats love include:
- Sweet fruits
Exercising your cat’s mind will keep your pet happy while you cannot actively provide amusement. Your cat will still need to be played with when you return. Sufficient entertainment at other times will keep your cat calm, minimizing the desire to follow you.
Environmental enrichment means meeting all of your cat’s natural instincts. Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian explains how deprivation of these instincts can lead to behavioral issues. This table explains a cat’s core instinct:
|Climbing:||Cat trees. Unrestricted access to stairs. Jumping spots to the top of closets|
|Scratching:||Scratching posts. Old carpet squares. Wood.|
|Hiding:||Cardboard boxes. Open drawers. Closets and cupboards. Spare rooms.|
|Tunneling:||Plastic tunnels from a pet store. Homemade tunnels from cardboard.|
|Chewing:||Sturdy plastic toys. Safe, unelectrified cables. Plastic plant leaves.|
It is comparatively simple to prevent a cat from growing bored. It just takes a little effort, and an understanding of feline needs. If a cat is sufficiently entertained, it is unlikely to shadow you from room to room.
Cats will often follow humans when looking for attention. This does not necessarily mean that the cat is bored. There could be a number of reasons why a cat wishes for human interaction. The following will typically be accompanied by the following behaviors:
- Circling around feet
- Nuzzling at ankles
- Clawing and pawing
Food or play are the most common reasons for a cat to look for attention from an owner. If you have slipped out of an established routine, rectify this straight away. Cats take security and solace from an unchanging, reliable structure.
Even if your cat’s core needs are met, do not ignore its pleas for attention. There will be a reason for this request. Humor your cat, if nothing else. You may discover something important in the process.
Not all cats enjoy physical interaction with their owners. Many do, though. Preventive Veterinary Medicine confirms that petting can improve contentment and health in cats. In addition, petting often strengthens a bond between cat and owner.
If you are unsure about your cat’s views on petting, allow the cat to call the shots. Take a seat and see if your cat follows. If the cat leaps into your lap, start some gentle petting. Stroke the top of the cat’s head, and gradually move down the feline’s back.
Watch your cat during this petting. Body language will reveal if the cat is actively enjoying the activity. A happy cat will purr gently and half-close its eyes. If the cat starts to purr loudly and fidget, let it go. This suggests the cat is overstimulated.
If the cat continues to follow you after this, it was not looking for petting. Instead, the cat was asking for help or alerting you to something.
Asking for Help
Sometimes, cats follow humans because they are asking for help. Cats are proud, but they are not above seeking assistance when necessary.
Your cat may need help with a practical matter. A favorite toy could be out of reach under the sofa, for example. Your cat will return to the scene of such a problem and verbalize it. Help the cat out, and it will stop following you.
Check that your cat is not subject to bullying from another animal. If you live in a multi-cat home, one cat may dominate the others. Cats see humans are larger, non-hostile felines. Your cat could be requesting your presence as a back-up in case it is attacked.
Your cat may be alerting you to something it considers untoward. Pay attention if the cat follows you then starts herding you in a particular direction.
Oftentimes, a cat will lead you toward a wall, door or window. This suggests that the cat can hear something you cannot. This may be nothing suspicious. It could just be your neighbors. Do be careful, though. Your cat may hear rodents or insects in your walls.
Your cat may also lead you toward its litter tray. This will be because the tray has not been cleaned. Cats do not feel comfortable eliminating in a soiled litter. Clean up the tray and your cat will do what it needs to do. The following will then cease.
Some senior cats start to struggle with reaching the litter tray on time. If this occurs, the cat may come to notify you. Calmly clean up the mess and reassure that cat that it is not in any trouble.
Cats are very curious creatures. Your cat may be following you because it wants to know what you are doing. The behavior of humans is as imperceptible to cats as their actions are to owners.
More importantly, your cat will be checking that you are not having fun without it. Cats dislike closed doors for this reason. If you close the door to the bathroom, your cat will want to know why. Why could you possibly want privacy? Are you hiding another cat in there?
Once curiosity has been sated, your cat will stop following you. To speed up this process, allow your cat to follow you without restriction. Your cat will quickly grow bored when it realizes you are not withholding anything interesting.
Your cat may be feeling insecure. This will result in following you for safety. This will often happen when the cat hears loud, sudden noises. Expect your cat to follow you around the house throughout July 4th weekend, for example.
It is unlikely that your cat wants help with personal injury or pain. Unlike dogs, cats do not seek sympathy from their human owners. A cat in pain is likelier to hide itself away, avoid contact with you.
Some illnesses can leave a cat feeling insecure, though. If your cat is acting uncharacteristically clingy, it is worth arranging a veterinary check-up. This is especially notable in senior cats. Excessive neediness can be a warning sign of cognitive decline.
It is also possible that the cat was separated from its mother too young. If the cat never learned to be confidently independent, it will view you as its mother. The cat is following you for safety. Most senior cats grow out of this habit, but it remains a possibility.
Cats are confident and independent, often to the point of being considered aloof. This is not necessarily the case. Cats can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long.
Inappropriate elimination is a common sign of separation anxiety. The Journal of the American Veterinary Association explains how this will usually take place on a human bed. The cat may also act destructively and groom to excess.
A cat with separation anxiety will follow you due to insecure attachment. The cat is afraid that if you leave its sight, you may not return. It is critical that you build your cat’s confidence.
A routine will help with this. Your cat will calm down if it knows when to expect you home. If this does not settle your cat, arrange company. Hire a pet sitter or ask a neighbor to visit your cat. These visits must take place at the same time each day.
Lack of Territory
A cat that does not have its own territory will follow you around. The explanation for this is simple enough. The cat does not have a private area to retreat to. It will follow you around, hoping to find previously undiscovered terrain.
Put a stop to this by providing your cat with a territory to call its own. Ideally, this will be a whole room that is rarely used. Spare bedrooms or laundry rooms are ideal for this. If space is limited, assign your cat its own private corner to escape to.
What matters most is that the cat is never disturbed in this area. This will promote a sense of serenity and security. The cat will take itself to its claimed territory when it needs some time out. This will make the cat happier and be less frustrating for you.
Do not overlook the fact that your cat may just be showing love. Cats can forge strong emotional bonds with their owners. If you have an affectionate cat, it may always want to be with you.
While this is a compliment, be mindful. It is not natural for a cat to want company all the time. Felines need a time out and privacy on occasion. If your cat is being excessively affectionate at all times, something is up.
If you are confident that your cat is not unwell, consider other explanations. If your cat is female, she could be pregnant or in estrus. Excessive friendliness is a common sign of these conditions. If your cat is yowling and attempting to get outside, she is likely in heat.
Offer your cat a little affection in return. Use whatever love language your cat relies upon most. This could be treats, petting, or play. A cat that feels its appreciation has been acknowledged and returned will be contented.
If your cat follows you around the house, do not worry. This is rarely a reason to fear for your cat’s health. There will be an explanation, though. Ensure that your cat is suitably entertained and emotionally secure. This will provide the confidence to stop following you.