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How do you know if your relationship with your cat has crossed over into an unhealthy obsession? If caring for your cat has heavily interfered with everyday aspects of your life, you may be obsessed, according to Debra Rothschild, clinical psychologist and addictions expert.
Putting off work deadlines or social plans to spend time with your cat is a red flag. A good indication of a problem is if you find yourself prioritizing your cat over potential human interactions. “The unconditional love of a cat is something to cherish, but it shouldn’t replace a real relationship with other people, whether it is friendship or romantic,” says Rothschild.
It is also important to assess any behavior that is making your life unmanageable, such as spending too much money on cat products when you can’t afford necessities for yourself. “The number of cats in your home does not necessarily indicate a problem,” says Rothschild. “If you have a large home, then you have the space for more cats. Alternatively, if you live in a small apartment with 10 cats and this inhibits company from visiting, then you need to reevaluate your situation.”
If you are concerned that you may be spending too much time with your cat, there are ways to change your behavior. “It is important to know that your cats will be alright without you, as they are independent creatures,” says Rothschild. “You should try to spend time with other people. Think of activities you enjoy, and pursue those interests.”
If you realize that you have no interest in spending time without your cats, then professional help is an option to assist you in reestablishing those missing aspects of your life.
Stacey Brecher is a freelance writer. She has contributed to Animal Fair magazine, and her blogs have previously appeared on The Dog Daily.