How Much Attention Do Cats Need?

If you’ve been thinking of adopting a cat and you are feeling a little unsure as to whether you can actually give her the right amount of attention, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a comprehensive article so that you know whether you can meet or cat‘s needs in this sense.

Compared to other animals, cats are relatively independent. The Internet is packed with memes and images of cats who only want affection and attention whenever they need to receive it — many cats aren’t as needy as dogs, in this sense. They are generally easier to care for compared to their canine counterparts, but they still require some attention. 

The basics

I’ve decided to start with this because if you haven’t been a cat parent before, it might be a good idea to be aware of the things that you will have to pay for. Cats need:

  • Food, water, litter, toys, beds, general care, and grooming supplies
  • Vaccinations 
  • Yearly or bi-yearly checkups at the vet’s
  • Pet insurance (especially if you live in North America where veterinary procedures can make you go into debt if you don’t have insurance)
  • Love, attention, patience, trust, and everything else that makes a safe, healthy, and happy home for a cat

Indoor vs outdoor cats

On the whole, indoor cats need a little more attention compared to outdoor cats. The latter are used to going out and getting exercise and play on their own, but the first depend on their guardians to provide them with entertainment opportunities. 

Outdoor cats can also get socialization, food, and water elsewhere, especially if you fail to meet their needs in this respect. The only interaction that an indoor cat gets to benefit from is the one that happens inside your home, but this means that it can get very lonely for the kitty if you tend to be away from home for a long time every day. 

It might be a good idea to get two cats right off the bat if your living circumstances allow you to. This way, both cats will feel less lonely and will be able to socialize with each other when you’re at work, for example.

How can you tell if your cat needs more attention?

Cats are extremely tricky to interpret, and from a health/medical standpoint, as well, you can have a hard time telling whether your cat’s health is on par or not. A cat can use the same behavior to signal different things — even purring can mean different things depending on the circumstance.

Some cats are extremely straightforward – such as my own, for example. They will meow at you and try to get your attention one way or another. Other cats are less used to doing this in a really obvious way. You might notice that your cat’s sitting in a corner, looking a little sad or bored, and moving her tail about like she’s getting irritated. 

Bored cats can have litter box issues, over-groom themselves, sleep more than what they should normally, and even experience a lack of appetite. On the other hand, there are lots of cases where cats overeat because they’re bored, and they end up being a little overweight. 

What about kittens?

Kittens need as much attention as you can give them! There’s no such thing as too much play, exercise, or attention for a young kitten. During the first seven weeks of her life, a cat’s brain behaves like a sponge – it needs to experience as many things as possible. 

Socializing a kitten is extremely important in this period. If she gets enough attention and care, she will grow up and be a relatively happy cat. If you tend to be busy or you’re not one to have enough patience to play with a kitten even for several hours per day, you might want to consider adopting an adult or senior cat

If you really do want to get a kitten, the ideal solution to the attention-seeking problem would be to get two kittens – preferably siblings. This would mean that the two could play together, burning off energy and leaving you to focus on your tasks without being interrupted. 

You will have to spend time with each kitten once in a while, though – this is the only way you can strengthen your bond with your cats. If two cats grow up together, they will experience anxiety and depression if they ever get separated later on. 

Ideally, kittens should be able to benefit from 2 thirty-minute play sessions each day. If a kitten doesn’t get enough attention or playtime, it’s very likely for her to begin looking for entertainment opportunities – and that’s how a kitten can develop destructive behaviors, want to get in all kinds of places, or just end up playing with and hiding important items. 

What about senior cats?

Senior cats become a little sedentary, which means that even if they are used to spending time outdoors, they will grow a little more attached to their indoor environment, as well. It’s important to avoid allowing your senior cat to become lazy, as this would lead to weight gain over time. Obesity can be quite dangerous in older cats as it puts a strain on the animal’s kidneys and other internal organs. 

Playing with your cat for about twenty minutes every day can prevent this. You can also get one of those feeders where the cat actually has to make an effort to get the kibble out of a hole – this would make the feeding experience a lot more entertaining, anyway. 

Are there specific breeds that need more attention?

There are some breeds that are far more interested in interacting with their human companions than others. In other words, they are needier – and if you’d like a quiet and affectionate cat that almost never wants to play or seek your attention, these breeds aren’t a good choice for you. 

Some of these attention-seeking breeds are Devon Rex or Cornish, Ragdoll, Siamese, Egyptian Mau, and Sphynx. 

Some of the most independent breeds out there are British Shorthair, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat, Maine Coon, and Scottish Fold. 

Can you get a cat if you have a full-time job?

How easy would it be if the answer to this question were a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’! But it isn’t. Cats will most definitely miss you when you are away, but many of us can be fooled by our feline buddies’ nature. 

If you work full-time and you’re out of the house for around 10 or more hours per day, your cat will seek your attention fully once you get back home. 

Being cooped up all day long with nothing to do really isn’t fun – just imagine being indoors without any books, TV, Internet access, or means to communicate with your friends and family. You’re all alone, and you have nothing to do. How much time do you think will it take you before you get really, really bored? 

If you tend to work fixed hours, you might be able to meet your cat’s needs in your spare time – this includes grooming, cleaning, food, and everything else. But if you work in shifts, your cat is likely to get stressed since she doesn’t know what to expect. Just when are you going to be home? That’s what she’s asking herself. 

Attention-seeking behavior 

Here are some signs that your cat is asking for your attention:

  • Knocking things down
  • Pawing at your arm or leg
  • Jumping on and off the furniture
  • Destructiveness
  • Plenty of crying

Keeping your cat happy and healthy takes more than making sure that she has what to eat every day. Having a pet is a responsibility that not everyone can handle — so we hope that this article has assisted you in telling whether a cat might make the right kind of pet for you. 

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