Maybe you finally feel that you are ready to adopt a pet and have been looking at the various alternatives.
You probably have heard many friends mention that cats make wonderful pets for people with busy schedules as they don’t need much attention.
And that dogs are a lot harder to keep as pets due to their high attention requirements.
Is there any truth to these assumptions?
Do cats require much lesser attention than dogs?
Let’s paw a little deeper into this topic.
Do Cats Need Human Attention?
The bottom line is that cats need human interaction too especially from their owner or family members.
Cats thrive from daily human attention in the form of stroking or petting. A good 30 minutes of attention for your cat can do wonders in developing and strengthening the bond between human and feline.
If you’ve ever gotten close to interacting with cats before, you’ll come to understand and appreciate how wonderful and affectionate these creatures can be.
Dogs might bring a different type of special energy into your life but cats are able to mesmerize you with their gracefulness and quirky behaviors.
Why Do Cats Need Attention?
Because they are a living and breathing creature on this planet. Humans aren’t designed to be ‘islands’ and neither are cats. Even some insects and reptiles are found to develop a bond with their caretakers.
The misconception amongst many non-cat owners and as well as some cat owners is that cats are aloof and don’t like human attention and interaction.
Most cats aren’t aloof on purpose.
They just seem that way as cats have always been solitary animals as a species and don’t have a habit of living in groups or packs like dogs or cats.
That being said, stray cats or feral cats in the wild can get together and live in a group with some social order. They spend much of their time sleeping together and grooming each other.
Domestic cats in a single cat home would therefore rely on their owner or family to create such a social structure as well.
This would involve, playtime, grooming sessions and naps with your cat.
How Much Attention Should You Give Your Cat Daily?
As mentioned earlier, cats generally do well with 10-15mins of attention every day.
Come to think about it, that is just a fraction of your waking hours. And if you can’t even spare this amount of time for your cat, keeping a pet might not be ideal for you now.
If you can spare more than 10-15mins then that would be great as much attention helps provide your cat with physical and mental stimulation.
Cats don’t have the best of attention spans so it would be best to divide up your attention in small amounts throughout the door.
This work best if you have an indoor cat. But if you are looking after a stray that is primarily an outdoor cat then it is more challenging as outdoor cats come and go as they please.
How Much Attention Do Kittens Need?
Kittens in general require a lot more attention compared to adult cats. A young kitten is still unaware of its surroundings is highly dependent on its owner or mother to survive.
Less Than Eight Weeks Old
Kitten under the age of age weeks should not be taken away from its litter. They can’t regulate their body temperature well and reply on mother cat for milk. If you happen to find yourself caring for such a young kitten, you will need to feed it a specialized kitten milk formula every few hours and also help it to pee and poop.
They are very fragile at this stage and need round the clock attention.
Eight Week To Four Months Of Age
It is usually better to adopt kittens within this age range as they have started to wean off their mother. However, this is also considered the toddler to teenage years for cats which means they are nothing but ‘trouble’.
They will have almost 4x the energy of an adult cat and will be jumping, running, climbing and investigating all over your home.
You will need to kitten proof and watch your kitten carefully as it might get into trouble like getting too close to the window ledge or power socket.
Kittens need more attention than older cats as it helps with their mental and physical development. More attention given to your kitten at a young age enables it to socialize better with you. This would be the best time to get your kitten used to being groomed.
You don’t want to be stuck in a painful experience where your cat hates being groomed as it gets older.
How Do You Know If Your Cat Needs Attention?
Rest assured that your cat will definitely let you know if you are not giving it enough attention. Here are some signs to look out for.
Meowing Or Vocalizing
Domesticated cats have evolved over the years to develop an effective form of communication with humans.
And it is called ‘Meowing’.
Many people don’t realise that cats generally don’t meow or vocalize at each other to communicate unless it is a sign of aggression or mating.
But when it comes to humans, your cat will meow to communicate its desire for attention. And they will be doing it rather loudly and frequently till you switch off your Netflix and go give your cat attention.
Disrupting Your Schedule
Many cats know how to choose the busiest of times to get your attention.
Like when you are busy typing out an important email or presentation at home and your cat will just come and plomp itself in front of you and your work. (Like what my cat is doing now even after an hour of strokes)
Chances are nothing can get done until your cat’s call attention is required.
Your cat wants your attention and it wants it now!
Pawing Or Nudging
Some cats can be a bit more brazen or blatant when it comes to expressing their need for your attention.
Your feline companion won’t have any qualms about using its paws to nudge you on your arm or face to get your attention. There will make sure to make some form of body contact to make their presence known to you.
It is super adorable and one gesture you can’t say no to.
Flopping At Your Feet
This is something that my cat has been doing ever since he was a kitten. When he wants my attention, he will walk to where I am and just flop at my feet.
When he flops, he just dumps his entire body weight on my feet and lies on his back exposing his belly.
I know I can’t get away without giving him some belly rubs for at least five minutes. Otherwise, I will have a cat flopping at my feet wherever I go.
A domestic cat might engage in destructive behavior when not getting enough attention from its human companions. it might scratch your furniture, enter rooms or areas that it is not supposed to or even knock things over.
Some cats can even start playing with their poo or peeing outside of the litter box.
Cats don’t engage in such behavior out of spite but more of out restlessness and boredom. To me, the best way to keep your cat well behaved is with lots of attention and playtime.
Make sure it has expended its energy and would rather take a cat nap.
Cats that have been ignored or not given the right amount of attention for long periods of time can fall into depression.
Cats that are depressed will show some of these symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Lack of energy
- Excess grooming
- Sleeping more than usual
If you noticed that your feline buddy has been showing these signs without any underlying health issues, then you need to start spending more time with your cat to get it back on track.
How To Give Your Cat Attention?
There are a couple of tried and proven ways that you can employ to show and give your cat attention. Some might work better than others depending on your cat’s personality.
Grooming Your Cat
Cats take pride in their appearance and spend a couple of hours each day grooming themselves.
You can help your cat with their grooming experience by brushing them on a regular basis. Some longhaired cats like the Siberian or Persian breed require more frequent grooming to maintain their fur coats.
Brushing your cat is also a good way to give it attention and strengthen your bond. Mother cats spend a lot of time licking and grooming their kittens to make sure they are clean.
It is best to start grooming your cat from a young age or it might get harder as your cat gets older.
Play With your Cat
Spending some time playing with your cat is also a great way to bond and show attention. Playtime also allows your cat to make use of its natural instinct of stalking and hunting.
Inside that little feline friend of yours resides a soul of a wild cat. Cats are expert hunters and are always ready to showcase that.
Get interactive toys that can help to stimulate your cat’s senses. Toys that they can chase will also excite them tremendously.
My cat loves anything that resembles a bird and can spend hours stalking and chasing a feather tied to a string.
Cats go crazy over laser pointers as well. Just be sure to not point it at their faces as it can damage their eyes.
Playtime also lets your cat exercise its muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Talk To Your Cat
There is no need for you to start meowing at your cat in an attempt to communicate with it. Just speak normally and gently to your cat as you would do with a loved one.
Cats are highly perceptive animals.
Even though they might not understand the meaning of your words, they can start to understand your mood and emotions via the tone of your voice.
Don’t be surprised if your cat starts ‘talking’ back to you with meows and chirps.
Nap With Your Cat
One other way to spend quality time with your cat is to take a nap together.
If there’s one other thing that a cat does well besides being cute is sleeping. Cats sleep about 18-20 hours a day which is a lot compared to humans.
Cats are usually active at dawn and dusk to hunt prey that feeds at that time. The rest of the hours are spent sleeping or napping to regain their energy for the next hunt.
If your cat is a lap cat then taking a nap together is easy.
However, if your cat isn’t one like mine, what I will do is find a time when my cat is napping on my bed or couch and sleep beside him.
One more thing I like to do while napping with my cat is to hold his paw in my hand. My cat likes it too and it strengthens the bond between us.
One thing to note is that not all cats like their paws being touched as it is very sensitive for them. Don’t force it or you might agitate your cat.
Get Another Cat
There are times when your job or family matters take a lot of your time and require you to spend most of the day outside.
In order for your cat to get the attention that it needs, having another cat as a companion can do wonders for busy cat lovers.
Such cats will develop a strong bond with each other and will do a great job of keeping themselves busy while you are at work.
No one knows how to groom and play better with your cat than another cat.
If you do plan to get another cat, it would be best to ensure that there are of the same age and well socialized.
Kittens and adult cats don’t go so well together most of the time due to wide differences in energy levels.
Two kittens or two adult cats would make a better pairing.
Two cats are better than one, most of the time.
How Much Attention To Give A Senior Cat?
If you have a senior cat, one that is more than ten years old, it probably won’t have the same kind of energy levels that it once had as a younger cat.
You may find your cat sleeping more than usual which is understandable.
However, it would be best to not let your senior cat get too lazy or stuck in a rut. Make sure to still give them attention and quality playtime.
They can start behaving like the kittens they once were during playtime.
Do Cats Need More Attention Than Dogs?
Generally speaking, cats do not require as much attention and maintenance as compared to dogs. You don’t have to bring your cat out for walks or spend many hours interacting with them.
Most cats will be busy sleeping when their owners are out at work and will be awake and ready for attention when the owner is back from work later in the evening.
How Long Can Cats Go Without Attention?
If for some reason you are unable to give your cat much attention for a day or two, that is fine. But if you have personal matters that need you to be emotionally absent for longer than that, it is better to get a pet sitter that can come and interact with your cats in your absence.
It is not a good idea to just ignore your cats for long periods of time and cause unwanted behaviors.
What Cat Breeds Require The Most Attention?
Cats have the same behavioral traits across all breeds. However, they are a few cat breeds that require more attention.
- Maine Coon
There are a few of the more popular cat breeds that need more attention from their owners. If you are someone who is gone most of the day, these breeds won’t be suitable for you.
Don’t choose a cat just based on its physical appearance alone.
More importantly, make sure you are able to provide the necessary care and attention required by the specific breed.