Why Does My Cat Sit On Everyone Else's Lap But Mine?

Posted on 01 Dec 2015 20:55 by EricT


So many people who have never adopted a cat imagine that their first cat will be what we tend to call a lap cat. Lots of people love to have a warm ball of fur settled in their lap, perhaps while making a comforting purring sound. It is not only beneficial to the cat, who enjoys the closeness and warmth, but it's beneficial to the human.

Still, not all cats are lap cats. If you have a cat that doesn't like to sit on laps, there is not much you can do about it. Much of this behavior has to do with how early cats are handled. Just because a cat is not a lap cat does not mean it does not like to spend quality time with its people, it just may not like to have that much touching.

But, in my family, our lap cat loves to sit on my lap more than anybody else. That is changing, however, as I teach my family the secret.

Cat Sits on Cat Hater's Lap!

Have you ever known a person who doesn't like cats but always ends up having a cat sit on their lap? Say, they visit and friend who has a friendly affectionate cat and it makes a beeline to their lap? Makes no sense, right?

Well, it does to the cat. If you know cats, you know that they like things to be on their terms. A lap cat will like some petting and stroking, but not too much! As well, while a head rub may be welcome, too much stroking of the body may be overstimulating, and even irritating, to the cat.

But lets look at what happens before the cat makes a beeline to the cat hater. It usually makes no sense to imagine a cat thinking like a human, but in this case, it may illustrate things a bit better from your cat's point of view. Imagine if you were with a group of people, and everybody except one person was staring at you, reaching out towards you, trying to touch you, stroke your skin, murmuring to you, making noises, etc. You would probably be more than a bit annoyed and think you were in a room full of crazy people. Just the inviting stares along may be enough for most cats to want to find something to hide under. So, who would you be attracted to? The one normal person in the room who wasn't being so invasive, pushy, and outright creepy and threatening. Now, imagine you are a cat. You don't know anything about 'that guy doesn't like cats' you just know he is not threatening! He's not making strange noises, staring at you, touching you, etc. In fact, he is looking away and basically ignoring you. If you want a nice warm and safe lap to sit on, this is your ticket.

Why Does My Cat Sit on My Lap?

I am obviously not a cat hater and the above example is an extreme scenario. When a cat decides to curl up and go to sleep on your lap, it shows your cat trusts you completely. You are not only a warm and comforting presence, but you represent safety. Or so it is suggested. However, let's not overstate things! House cats do not live in a state of perpetual vigilance. A cat who sleeps on your lap is just as likely to fall asleep in the middle of the floor or while enjoying a sunny window. Both of these are exposed places. So, while lying and then sleeping on your lap certainly indicates that your cat trusts you, I suspect it is the warmth, and plain old affection, that motivates kitty, rather than some sense that your lap is a secure fortress against unknown enemies.

Still, when your cat sits on your lap it also indicates that you understand how to accept your cat's presences while still giving him or her space. Your cat wants to curl up and relax, not be petted, prodded and poked. It's nap time, not party time. The reason our lap cat prefers my lap to everyone else's is that after a few head strokes, which my cat invites with a headbutt or head rub, etc. I let him settle down and relax. If I stroke his fur, it is only a stroke or two and then I basically ignore him.

If you have a lap cat in the family that doesn't sit on your lap, this may be the reason. You handle her too much and, in general, you are just being too pushy. And then, if she does sit on you, it is not necessarily that she doesn't like it when you handle her, but that he wants to relax and when you touch her is too stimulating, not allowing her to settle in and enjoy the warmth and closeness.

If you continually stroke, hug and generally mess with a cat, they will either become tired of it and go away or become overstimulated and engage in behaviors we do not like, such as biting or batting.

How Do You Get a Cat to Sit on Your Lap?

To reiterate, if your cat is not a lap cat, he or she probably will never be. However, if you are the only person in the house that doesn't get to occasionally have some lap time with your cat, you probably have over-handled the situation, so to speak.

cat sleeping on lap

Start by inviting you cat onto your lap, by holding out your hands, or patting or scratching at your lap. If the cat accepts, and climbs or jumps into your lap, stroke the head gently, especially his favorite places, like under the chin, etc. After a little petting, just be still and give your cat some time to settle in. You need to let him stop associating you, at these times, as a source of stimulation, and let him know that you are ready for quiet time. So, at first, engage in only minimum handling and stroking, and then just let him be.

It may take some time before your cat gets the message that yours is a good lap to sleep in. After a while, though, if you can resist the urge to handle him, he should start sitting on your lap as much as anybody else in the family. Once the new pattern is establish, you should be able to pet him a little more, periodically as he sits. Most cats will let you know what they want, as you well know. If he wants a head massage, for example, he may try to thrust his head into your palm. Give him what he wants, but don't over do it. Avoid excessive stroking of the body.

If this doesn't work, then, it may simply be that your lap isn't comfortable for some reason. It could be any number of things, including the way you tend to sit. Sometimes, a cat will prefer to sit on one person when they lie down, but another person when they sit. Cats can be very specific in their preferences. Chances are, however, if you just follow the steps above, you'll be on your way to having some lap time.

Do Not Force A Cat to Sit on Your Lap

You should never force a cat to sit on your lap by holding it. You may be tempted to think that if you simply hold your cat still, even though she is extremely tense, in time she will realize that "nothing bad is happening" and calm down. Then, she will sit on your lap without being nervous.

It does not work this way. If you restrain a cat and hold her on your lap, and she is tense and nervous and wants to get down, all that will happen is that she will associate you and your lap with stress. Not only will she not want to sit on your lap, she will probably learn to avoid you. You must let here come to you, and give her time, and room, to relax onto your lap, if she so chooses. Just be calm and don't force it.

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