Doggie vs. Kitty Cling-Fest. Which Pet Wins at Being Needy?

Are Dogs or Cats More Clingy?

The debate between dog and cat lovers has raged for ages. Both make for beloved pets, but they have very different personalities and needs. One major difference is their level of clinginess and attachment to their owners. Dogs tend to be needier, following their owners around the house and demanding attention. Cats are more independent, affectionate on their own terms. But why do our furry friends have such different dispositions? Is one truly more clingy than the other, and why?

In this article, we’ll explore the inherent behavioral differences between dogs and cats that contribute to clinginess. We’ll examine scientific research on how both animals form attachments and measure their affection for humans. And we’ll provide perspective from pet owners and animal experts on dealing with overly-clingy pets – the good, the bad, and the solutions. Whether you’re Team Dog or Team Cat, you’re sure to discover intriguing insights about your pet’s unique attachment style.

Dog Behavior

One of the main reasons dogs tend to be clingy is due to their pack mentality. Dogs are descendants from wolves and have retained the pack instincts and close family bonds of their ancestors ( Dogs and wolves view their human/owner as the leader of their pack and have an inherent desire to remain close to the pack leader for security, guidance and affection. Clinginess helps satisfy the dog’s innate need to be near members of their pack.

Separation anxiety is also very common among clingy dogs. Dogs are social animals that thrive when around their human companions. When a dog is separated from their human, even for short periods, they can experience severe anxiety and stress which leads them to display clingy behaviors when reunited. Dogs prone to separation anxiety will whine, pace, and follow their owners incessantly (

Finally, dogs are fiercely loyal animals. Once bonded with a human, dogs exhibit intense loyalty and devotion. Their clinginess stems from the desire to be constantly near the person they love and feel so devoted to. The stronger the human-canine bond, the more likely the dog is to velcro itself to its cherished owner’s side.

Cat Behavior

Unlike dogs, cats are known for their independent nature and do not necessarily need constant companionship (Why is my cat so clingy? – Addressing Clingy Cat Behavior). While cats can form strong bonds with their owners, they are generally less overtly affectionate and do not demand the same level of attention as dogs. Cats tend to show affection on their own terms, often through actions like rubbing, purring, and kneading. Many cats are perfectly content spending time alone, though they also enjoy interactions at certain times of day.

While some clinginess is normal, especially in kittens who are still bonding with their owner, excessive clinginess in cats could signal an underlying issue like separation anxiety, stress, or poor socialization. Consulting with a vet and using behavioral training techniques can help address the root causes. Ultimately though, cats are less predisposed towards clingy behavior compared to dogs due to their natural independence.

Measuring Clinginess

There are some common signs of clinginess in both dogs and cats that owners can watch for. In dogs, signs include following the owner everywhere, needing to always be touching them, distress when left alone, and demanding constant attention. For cats, clingy behaviors can include kneading, head-butting, meowing when the owner leaves the room, and needing to sleep right next to them.

There are a few ways clinginess can be quantified in pets. Some studies have surveyed owners using scales to rate the severity of clingy behaviors in their pets. Owners are asked to rank behaviors like shadowing, physical touching, vocalization, and distress when alone on a scale from 1 to 5. Researchers look at the averages to assign clinginess scores.

Another method is for owners to track observable clingy behaviors in a pet over a set time period, such as a day or a week. The frequency and duration of behaviors are noted and added up to produce a clinginess score. Some vets and behaviorists also use their own rating systems when observing pets in their clinics.

Owner Perspectives

Many owners have strong opinions on whether dogs or cats are more clingy pets. Anecdotally, some owners report that their dogs follow them everywhere, constantly beg for attention, and can’t stand to be left alone – classic signs of clinginess. Other owners say their cats meow repeatedly when they want food or affection and even sleep on their head or lap every chance they get.

Owner preferences and lifestyles may also impact perceptions of clinginess. People who enjoy constant companionship and physical affection may view their dog’s clingy behaviors more positively. Owners who value independence and space may find the same behaviors annoying in dogs but acceptable in cats, who show affection on their own terms. Busy owners who frequently leave pets alone may perceive a greater degree of clinginess when they are home versus owners who work from home and are with their pets most of the time.

While individual pet personalities certainly vary, these owner perspectives highlight how the human side of the equation also influences the clingy pet debate. Lifestyle compatibility and personal preferences shape our bonds and tolerance for clingy behaviors across both dogs and cats.

Professional Opinions

Both veterinarians and animal behaviorists have weighed in on which pets tend to be more clingy. One veterinarian, Dr. Natalie Marks, states that in her experience, “dogs tend to be more clingy than cats because they have been domesticated to be dependent on their human owners.” She explains that through selective breeding over thousands of years, “dogs have evolved to crave human interaction and affection”1 On the other hand, cats are more independent and don’t rely on human contact as much.

Certified animal behaviorist Sarah Heath says that while clinginess can occur in both dogs and cats, she sees it “much more frequently in dogs.” She attributes this to the fact that dogs are social pack animals that naturally want to be around their family members. Cats, as more solitary creatures, “can more easily entertain themselves and spend time alone.”2 Overall, the consensus among veterinarians and behavior experts is that dogs exhibit more clingy behaviors compared to cats.

Solutions for Overly Clingy Pets

There are several strategies owners can try to help an overly clingy dog or cat become more independent.


Training is essential for teaching clingy pets boundaries and self-reliance. Owners can use positive reinforcement techniques to reward calm, independent behavior and ignore clingy behaviors. For example, dogs can be trained to settle on a mat for increasing periods of time. Cats can be clicker trained or rewarded with treats when tolerating alone time. Establishing routines and structure through training helps clingy pets build confidence.

Providing Stimulation

Keeping clingy pets occupied while alone reduces anxiety. Food puzzle toys, snuffle mats, and automatic laser pointers stimulate dogs. Cat trees, scratching posts, and food puzzles engage cats. Daycare or pet sitters can provide companionship. Providing ample exercise and playtime prevents boredom.

Adjusting Expectations

Owners may need to accept some level of clinginess, especially in bonded pairs or breeds prone to Velcro behavior. Remaining patient, not overreacting to clinginess, and rewarding independence helps. Letting go of expectations for pets to amuse themselves may be necessary. Consistency, routine, and medical care aid adjustment.

Benefits of a Clingy Pet

Having a clingy pet comes with several benefits that can enrich an owner’s life. Three major benefits of a clingy pet are companionship, responsibility, and unconditional love.

Companionship is one of the top reasons people get pets. Clingy pets in particular can provide constant company and friendship. As social creatures, human beings benefit from having a close companion. Clingy dogs or cats who follow their owners around the house and always want to sit next to them give owners a sense of always having a friend by their side 1.

Owning any pet, including clingy ones, teaches responsibility. Caring for another living being requires dedication, time commitment, organization, and planning. Having to remember to feed, groom, and clean up after a clingy pet builds accountability. Additionally, training and socializing a clingy dog teaches patience and consistency 2.

Pets, especially clingy ones, provide unconditional love and acceptance. Unlike humans, pets don’t judge their owners. They offer affection freely and make their owners feel valued. The adoration of a clingy pet boosts self-esteem and creates a sense of being needed 3. For people who feel lonely, an animal’s constant companionship and attachment can be profoundly comforting.

Downsides of a Clingy Pet

Though clingy pets may show love through their behavior, there are some downsides owners should be aware of.

One major downside is the constraints a clingy pet can put on an owner’s social life and ability to travel. As reported by PetMD, clingy pets often experience separation anxiety when left alone, leading to behaviors like incessant whining, pacing, and destructive chewing (1). This makes it difficult for owners to leave their pets for vacations, nights out, or other activities.

Clingy pets may also exhibit destructive behaviors as a result of their anxiety. According to Newsweek, clingy dogs may chew on furniture, urinate or defecate inside, or try to escape confinement when left alone (2). These behaviors can be stressful and expensive for owners to manage.

Finally, some owners may find an overly needy pet annoying or draining over time. As one Quora user wrote, clingy pets require constant validation and attention from their owners, which can be emotionally exhausting (3). Owners of clingy pets need to be prepared for this neediness.


In summary, both dogs and cats can exhibit clingy behavior, but it tends to be more common in dogs. Dogs are social pack animals that bond very closely with their human families. Separation anxiety is a well-known issue for dogs. Cats are more independent by nature but can still become attached and demanding of attention. The level of clinginess displayed can depend on the cat or dog’s personality, breed traits, past trauma, training, and more.

If you have a very clingy pet, be patient and compassionate. Look for potential solutions like providing mental stimulation, maintaining routines, using calming aids, and consulting a vet or trainer. But remember the benefits too – a clingy pet shows just how much they love you! With time and training, you can reach the right balance.

The most important thing is to provide a loving home that meets your pet’s needs for social interaction. Every cat and dog has a unique personality, so get to know your pet’s quirks and preferences. With care and compassion, even the clingiest pet’s behavior can improve.

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