Dear Barb—Cat Times!

Dear Barb:

I need help my cat is so needy! My boyfriend and I just adopted a four-month-old kitten and neither of us have had a kitten before, so we did not know what to expect.  Basically, I just thought the kitten would lay around the house all day calm and relaxed on his climber, and occasionally snuggle on my lap, but that’s definitely not the case.  Robbie is constantly on my lap or my boyfriend’s lap.  When we sit together, Robbie has to be right between us.  If I try to work on my computer, he’s on my keyboard.  He follows both of us around the apartment constantly and meows when he doesn’t know where we are.  We love him so much, but this is not what we expected.  Everyone says he will outgrow it, but what do I do in the meantime.  Our life revolves around Robbie.  We really don’t want to bring him back and reject him again.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions that we could try? Thanks, Needy Cat Owner. 

Hello Needy:

You have a dilemma that most vintage cat owners are familiar with, but since you have never owned a cat this is all new to you.  Maybe you have never heard the saying by Kristen Cast:

Cats choose us, we don’t own them.”

The first thing you need to do is find out if its acting like this because it’s in need or just demanding, there is a difference.  Also, if this behaviour is something new and began suddenly, it could be a medical issue and require an appointment with your vet.  Since you have just adopted this kitten, it may be this behaviour is more “needy” than “demanding.” Demanding cats demand to be fed at certain times, they want you to get up when they are up and they meow incessantly until they are picked up.  Robbie has just gone through a major trauma of being taken from probably the only home he has ever known, one where he was bonded with other kittens.  It will take a few weeks for your kitten to adjust and feel secure in his new home.  Another option could be that the kitten is bored and the way to remedy that is to adopt another cat for companionship.

While Robbie is adjusting to his new home, don’t coddle him or give in to his constant demands for attention.  However, do give him a reasonable amount of attention.  Be firm and only reinforce the behaviour you want.  When Robbie is doing something you don’t want him to, like sitting on your keyboard, or your kitchen table, pick him up and put him down while saying a firm “no.” You may have to do this numerous times before kitty realizes he is not getting the response he is craving.  When he finally stops jumping up and walks away, give him a treat.  It could take several weeks to change unwanted behaviour so be patient.  This will be a learning experience for you and your boyfriend.  Good luck you will find the rewards are worth it.

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