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Why Does My Cat Always Want Attention When I’m on the Phone?

Is your cat’s behavior very predictable whenever the phone rings? It’s very common for the family cat to show up and start meowing and/or crawling all over the cat parent’s lap whenever a call comes in. What’s the story? Is your cat jealous of the phone? You may think so but the behavior is really just another example of your cat’s intelligence.

Are You Talking to Me?

When you’re talking on the phone, the cat hears your voice. In some cases, there’s no one else in the room except you and the cat. Perhaps kitty thinks you must be talking to her since she doesn’t see or hear another person.

Reinforcing the Cat’s Behavior

Animals repeat behaviors when they have a pay-off or when they serve a beneficial function. You may not even realize this as you’re talking on the phone but you might actually be reinforcing your cat’s behavior. If you’re on the phone and the cat comes over to you there’s a good chance you pet her or acknowledge her somehow. Maybe she jumps up in your lap and you start stroking her without even paying attention to what you’re doing. The cat soon learns whenever you’re on the phone, there’s an excellent chance she’ll get some attention.

quote from georgia spca


If your cat is exceptionally insistent when you’re talking on the phone you may have tossed a toy to distract her or perhaps you’ve even refilled the food bowl in an attempt to keep her occupied instead of meowing at you and asking for attention. If that’s the case, your smart cat has also learned just how successful that technique is for her and she’ll do it again and again. Your smart little cat is always learning, so pay attention to the behaviors you reinforce.

Need More Information?

For more specific help with cat training or cat behavior problems, refer to any of the books by Pam Johnson-Bennett.


If you have a question about your cat’s behavior, you can find information in the articles on our website as well as in Pam’s books. If you have a question regarding your cat’s health, please contact your veterinarian. This article is not intended as a replacement for your cat’s veterinary care.

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