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How Much Attention Does a Cat Need? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat sleeping in owner's arms

How Much Attention Does a Cat Need? Vet-Reviewed Facts

VET APPROVED

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)

Veterinarian

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

While cats are often perceived as independent pets, they still require daily attention from their owners. Most cats need at least 20-30 minutes of undivided attention a day. However, the amount of attention can vary and depends on several different factors, like the cat’s age, personality, and breed temperament.

It’s important for cat owners to be attentive to their cat’s need for attention. Giving the right amount of attention improves a cat’s quality of life, strengthens the bond between cat and owner, and can reduce unwanted behaviors.

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Why Cats Need Attention

Cats have been bred to be companion animals. So, even the most independent cats will seek attention from their favorite people. The amount of attention a cat needs will be different for each cat. Some cats can spend hours alone, while others love following their humans all around the house. Here are some factors that can affect a cat’s need for attention.

cat resting with owner on sofa at home
Image Credit: U__Photo, Shutterstock

Age

In general, kittens and senior cats require more attention. Kittens have a lot of energy and usually love to play. So, you’ll probably spend several hours a day playing and interacting with a kitten. Attention doesn’t just provide entertainment for kittens. Playtime is an enrichment activity that helps kittens exercise, activate their natural instincts, and explore and learn more about their surroundings.

Senior cats can start to require more attention as they start to experience some health issues related to aging, like arthritis and hyperthyroidism1. If your older cat has lived with you for a while, they’re most likely to have developed a stronger bond with you and may enjoy your company even more.

Breed Temperament

Some cat breeds are more social than others and have temperaments that require more attention. These cats tend to enjoy being around people and don’t usually do well being left alone for long hours:

woman holding her birman cat
Image Credit: Stokkete, Shutterstock

Other cat breeds have more independent temperaments and don’t mind being left alone for a while. Here are some cat breeds that aren’t as demanding of attention:

It’s important to remember that not all purebred cats will share their breed’s typical temperament. As you get to know your cat’s personality, you’ll learn how much undivided attention they’ll need.

classic tabby Norwegian forest cat close up
Image Credit By: Elisa Putti, Shutterstock

Health Issues

Cats that have health issues naturally require more attention to physical care. However, some cats may start to demand more attention if they’re feeling uneasy or in pain. They can become more vocal, have changes in energy levels, and experience mood swings.

If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, it can be helpful to look for other signs that your cat may be sick. It also doesn’t hurt to schedule a physical exam with your veterinarian to determine if any underlying health conditions are affecting your cat’s behavior.

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Signs Your Cat Isn’t Receiving Enough Attention

Cats will act in different ways when they feel they aren’t receiving enough attention. Some cats may start to become more vocal, especially if they notice that meowing or making other noises catches your attention.

Your cat may also start to get in the way and lay on whatever you’re working on. Some cats may enjoy the heat being emitted from a laptop, while others are plopping themselves in front of their owners to get some attention. Some cats may also start to follow you around when they want some attention. They may even nudge you with their noses or paw at you.

In more severe cases, cats will start to engage in destructive behavior. Cats that aren’t receiving enough attention can have pent-up energy that they need to exert, and bored cats can start to destroy furniture or become more aggressive.

Cats can start to overgroom themselves or engage in other repetitive behaviors, like scratching. They may neglect litter box habits and start urinating in inappropriate places. You may also see some cats overeating and sleeping more than usual.

Abyssinian cat meowing
Image Credit By: New Africa, Shutterstock

Ways to Give Your Cat Attention

As cat owners spend time with their cats, they’ll start to pick up on what kind of attention their cats like and how much they need.

If your cat enjoys cuddles and pets, make sure to take breaks throughout the day to give your cat your undivided attention. Many cats enjoy getting scratches under their chins, around their ears, and along their backs.

If you work from home, it may be helpful to set up a cat bed or resting area near your workstation. You can place a blanket, pillow, hot water bottle, and some toys in this area to keep your cat happy and entertained. These types of setups allow your cat to enjoy your company without getting in the way of your work.

Another great way to give your cat attention is to play with them. It can be helpful to invest in a cat wand to encourage your cat to play with you. If your cat enjoys catnip or silvervine, you can pick a designated time of day to consistently give your cat a treat sprinkled with catnip or silvervine.

Alternatively, if you want to surprise your cat with something cool, check out the Hepper Hi-Lo Cat Scratcher. It's not just a scratcher; it's a piece of modern furniture that your cat can play on. It's got a curvy design that's perfect for stretching and moving, and it's built tough with strong birch plywood and thick B-flute cardboard. You can adjust it to three different heights, which keeps cats entertained. Plus, it won't break the bank! Our cats love it, and we do too.

Hepper Hi-Lo Cardboard Cat Scratcher with Real...
  • Premium Materials - Hepper's cardboard scratcher is made with dense, B-flute cardboard, and a metal...
  • High, Low and Lower - A single cat scratch pad won't keep your cat engaged. 3 unique positions keeps...
  • Activates Muscles - The Hi Lo isn't just a cat nail file to stop the chief cat couch scratcher. The...

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest, so that we could benefit from the outstanding designs of this cool cat company!

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Conclusion

All cats need individual attention and will start to let you know when they want attention from you. Cat owners need to understand how much attention their cats need and make sure that they receive enough of it every day. A lack of attention can lead to destructive behaviors, depression, and an overall lower quality of life.

So, make sure to create space in your day to give your cat attention. Spending time together will increase your bond, and you and your cat will share a mutual appreciation for each other as you give each other attention throughout the day.


Featured Image Credit: Impact Photography, Shutterstock

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