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Seven Tips for Turning Your Cat into a Lap Cat

three books by Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from AHA


Trust and consistency are also important here. If you want your lap to be a place your cat finds comfortable, then it’s crucial that you be the person a cat wants to be around. If you’ve physically punished your cat with your hands for unwanted behavior or reprimanded her for being on furniture, she’ll be understandably reluctant to come in close physical contact with you. If that’s the case, your job is to rebuild that trust through consistent, positive training. If your cat displays unwanted behavior, figure out the underlying cause so you can create a more acceptable alternative that doesn’t involve punishment. You’ll find numerous articles on our website that deal with training methods to build trust and minimize stress, whether it relates to the litter box, scratching, biting, attention-seeking and so on.

Spend time engaging in interactive play sessions with your cat so she forms a positive association with your presence. Interactive playtime is one of the best ways to rebuild a damaged bond.

Tip 3: Make it rewarding for your cat

It may take a little bit of bribery to entice your cat to come close to your lap. If you’re working with a very reluctant or timid kitty, choose a sofa to sit on instead of a chair. This way, your cat will feel she has more control as she inches closer. If you sit in a chair with high arms, she may not feel comfortable about being so enclosed or trapped.

Keep a supply of treats in your hand and gently toss them, one at a time on the floor in front of you. If your cat responds positively, toss a treat on the couch. Work up to inching closer until you can put a treat on your lap. During this time, don’t reach out to pet your cat or grab hold of her. Even if she does cross onto your lap, let her feel she has complete freedom. This is an important step in trust-building if you ever want her to feel safe enough to settle on your lap in the future.

three books and a quote about the author


Tip 4: Make sure you correctly interpret your cat’s body language

It can be easy to assume that the cat who approaches you is looking to snuggle but she may actually be trying to communicate something else. If she’s vocalizing or pacing back and forth in front of you, she may be requesting food or playtime or some other form of attention. Your cat may be in play-mode and not affection-mode.

If your cat tries to settle on your lap but becomes restless or displays behaviors such as tail flicking, skin twitching, meowing or her ears shift to a position that resemble airplane wings, she may be getting irritated. In your happiness over having the cat in your lap you may have started stroking her and she might not want to be petted or she may have reached her tolerance level. Petting-induced aggression can easily occur when the cat is trying to nap or simply doesn’t want to be stimulated by repeated petting. Even if your cat doesn’t display petting-induced aggression, if she clearly doesn’t want to be petted, she’ll bolt from your lap and may be reluctant to return.

Tip 5: Petting your cat the right way

If your cat does enjoy petting and affection, keep it very positive by paying attention to preferences she may have. Pet to relax your cat and not to stimulate her. Some cats prefer long, gentle strokes and other like shorter strokes that don’t go down the entire body. Observe whether your cat is uncomfortable when you stroke near the base of the tail. For many cats, this can be a sensitive spot. If your cat stretches out of your lap, avoid the temptation to hold her paws. Cats generally prefer to have their paws left alone.