Cats are for the most part social animals that enjoy our company. They are also pretty smart. Put those two facts together, and suddenly you have a cat that quickly learns how to make you heed his call. Responding to your cat’s pleas for attention isn’t always a bad thing. However, if your cat always seems to want to play every time you are on the phone, you probably need some help.

If your cat is engaging in an undesirable behavior to get your attention, the best thing to do is ignore him. This teaches him that his behavior has the opposite effect of his intentions. Yes, this can be difficult to achieve, especially if your cat tries to get your attention by standing on your head. Move away from your cat or put him in another room for a minute or two if you feel yourself losing patience. Again, cats are pretty smart, so your pet will soon learn that certain behaviors don’t work.

Be diligent about giving attention to your cat when he does something that you approve of (e.g., sitting, rubbing against your leg, lying on his bed, scratching the scratching post) to make sure that he doesn’t practice every “naughty” behavior in the book to get your attention (e.g. meowing, scratching the furniture, etc.). That way you will have a respectful feline in no time.

Finally, provide your cat with structured attention rather than more attention. Schedule two or three play sessions a day (to total 15-30 minutes) and a couple of short “quiet-attention” times for cuddling, petting, massage, grooming, or whatever activities your cat enjoys. Your cat will be less likely to be pushy and demanding if he knows that he will be getting attention at regular times each day.

If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email behavior@anticruelty.org.

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