How to Master the Art of Boundaries with Your Cat

orange tabby cat lying on its side looking straight at camera

We know your cat adores you. We also know it can be slightly annoying when your cat loves you a little too much aka is a stage five clinger. Feeling smothered by your feline companion from time to time does not make you a bad owner, it makes you human.

Think of it like this: it goes both ways. Even your cat will feel your affection too harshly at times which might result in a love bite or two. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed – for humans and for cats. If you’ve ever wondered, “Why does my cat follow me everywhere?” or gotten frustrated that she’s being a bug at the exact time you need to focus your attention elsewhere, this post is for you. Check out some friendly ways to curb stage five clinger behaviors below.

Redirect your cat’s behavior

Mittens can’t always sit on the counter while you make your morning cup of coffee. And it’s not always ideal if he tries to jump in the shower with you every night. But your cat wants to know what you’re doing. They’re curious. You’re interesting. It makes sense. Instead of punishing them for being on the counter or getting in the shower, create a place for them to be where they can still be close but aren’t right on top of you — or the hot stove.

One common household spot thats irresistible to a cat: kitchen counters. Cats are natural climbers, which is why you will find them wanting to get to the highest point in your home. Try getting your cat a tall scratching post instead and it'll likely satisfy her need to get high in the sky.

If your cat is curious when you cook, put a perch nearby. If she is wondering what you’re eating, give her an alternative place to sit where they can see and smell what you’re eating! Or better yet, make it their dinner time as well, so you're all engaging in the same activity together. A small shift like giving your cat their own place nearby without being in the way can make a big difference when it comes to curbing unwanted clinginess.

Give your cat a safe space

black and white cat sitting in a Hide and Sneak cat tunnel
Checkers Scott 

It's important for your kitty to have a space that's all his own because, well, he probably gets annoyed with you as well. There are only so many forehead kisses he can handle before it's time to gtfo. It’s probably the reason cats get a reputation for being aloof or independent. Pay attention to your cat’s body language and they’ll give you signs when it’s time for a break. 

When your cat is ready for some quiet time, they need their own safe place to go to. It can be as simple as a blanket on the living room sofa or an elaborate cat tree in their very own room. This place can be secluded or intertwined with one of your safe places. Make it work for you – and Mittens.

If the space is a special room it should include their food, water, lots of toys, a litter box, and perhaps our very favorite play tunnel for them to lounge in.

Cats like to feel safe and secure. Plus they are territorial over their space. When you give them a designated space, you might notice a shift in the clingy-cling.

Have you ever had a hectic work day or social event with a lot of interactions and felt the quiet relief of coming back home? It's the same thing for kitties. They, too, need a place to go to for some quiet time.

Try a catio or another supervised outdoor space

Have you ever had to make a barrier with your foot when you leave the house so your cat doesn’t run out the door with you? Some cats show signs of separation anxiety and want to be with you at all times, your cat may simply want outdoor adventures. 

Allowing your cat to go outside is a great way to tap into their predator nature, as long as you do it in a safe way. A catio allows your cat to enjoy fresh air without getting into potential trouble. A fully enclosed space is the safest way to allow your cat to be outdoors.

Allowing them outside time will also give you the space you need to do everything you need to do and have peace of mind that your cat is safe and entertained.

Seeing your kitty sitting on your freshly washed laundry is super cute, but there's nothing quite like seeing white fuzz stuck to your black pants. Keeping your cat entertained in a way that taps into their natural behaviors is the best way to enrich your indoor cat’s life.

Work to set reasonable boundaries

grey cat looking straight at camera

It’s a common myth that cats are low-maintenance pets. Most cats are very affectionate, but it can be a challenge to return the sentiment when they are all over you while you're trying to focus on other things.

Setting boundaries with your cat can be difficult, but not impossible. Address the stress by setting a routine so your cat knows what to expect. Setting a time to play is a great way for your cat to understand your boundaries. Keep feeding times consistent, although it's safe to assume Her Royal Highness will remind you should you be late.

Boredom can cause behavioral issues. So a regular rotation of interactive toys will keep your cat engaged and entertained throughout the day. It's ideal to make sure your cat has plenty to do so they don’t get too bored without you.

If you work from home and your cat is all up in your face, you can create boundaries to let them know where it's OK for them to hang out. As much as we'd love for some assistance managing our work inbox, an email from your cat might not be the vibe you're going for, professionally speaking (side note, we'd love an email from your cat, haha!). To deter keyboard loafing, put a comfy bed or blanket on your desk or next to your chair. Kitty will instinctively pick up what you're putting down and naturally gravitate towards it and be within arms reach (for all the pets) without disrupting your workspace — or making an ill-timed, albeit most likely hilarious, appearance in an important meeting. Double win!

Love your cat back and they’ll get the idea

Overall, your cat wants to be near / around / on top of you because they love you. Finding a balance between respecting their boundaries and training them to respect yours is worth the effort. With consistent behaviors, you can have a happy and healthy relationship with your feline friend.

The more secure they feel in their bond with you, the more your cat will be comfortable on their own. And who doesn’t want more cat purrs?

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