Some cats are born with an innately affectionate personality, while others tend to be fiercely independent. Research has established that behavioral traits in cats are due to genetics, with certain cat breeds being more likely to have amiable personalities. In fact, kittens are usually more friendly when their father also is friendly, and they inherit this “friendly gene.”
Environmental factors also play an important part in a cat’s disposition. Kittens learn everything about their environment and their relationship with humans by the time they reach seven to eight weeks of age. The crucial period in which their personalities are formed is when the socialization period closes. A litter of kittens handled by a human shortly after birth will be more affectionate and easier to handle than a kitten born into a feral colony.
Cat lovers prefer to have a cat that enjoys sitting on their lap, but not all cats are born to be lap-cats. Is it really possible to train a cat to sit on your lap? Is it really necessary to enjoy your relationship with your kitty?
If having a lap-cat is something that your heart truly desires, here are a few ways in which you can start building trust with your cat. However, you will have to convince your kitty that it is their choice to become a lap-sitter.
1. Make Your Cat Trust You
Building trust can be accomplished simply by accepting your cat just as it is. Since some cats truly hate being picked up and handled, don’t force it into being held. Sitting next to you, or gazing at you from across the room can be a feline declaration of adoration, with no need to touch.
While humans are primates used to touching and hugging each other, whole-body touching is a foreign concept to felines. In fact, hugging between cats only naturally occurs during aggressive interactions or during mating.
2. Pet Your Cat Right Away
Let your cat come to you, and never demand for them to sit in your lap. Cats are predatory animals and are curious about everything in their environment.
Spend time interactively playing with your cat with a feather-on-a-wand toy twice a day for about 10-15 minutes. Play is not only therapeutic, it also facilitates building the bond with your cat. Playtime also serves to release any pent-up energy and mimics a cat’s instinctive hunting behavior. Interactive play teaches your cat a positive benefit for being close to you, without being held. After your play session, feed your cat– just the right amount of cat food.
3. Say No To Punishments
Never punish a cat, as they respond poorly to negative reinforcement, and will only cause a cat to lose trust in their owner. However, cats thrive on positive reinforcement. Keep treats available close at hand, so while you are sitting on the couch and your cat jumps up and sits next to you, you can treat them right away.
4. Make sure your cat is relaxed.
Your cat’s emotional state can be affected by many factors such as pain, illness, or environmental factors that are causing her stress.
Cats hide pain and illness until they are extremely ill, which is an instinctual survival tactic. Signs of pain and/or illness can range from hiding, a hunched position, refusal to eat or play, growling or hissing when being touched, just to mention a few.
As cats are constantly communicating with their owners, it’s essential to learn how to read your cat’s body and tail language. Tails held high are signs of a contented, confident cat. When your cat wants to be petted, it may sit next to you and rub against you with its head and body.
Gently start scratching your cat under the chin and rubbing around its face. Kitties naturally groom each other on the back of the head and neck, so cats more readily accept these kinds of petting and touches. Cats are loaded with scent glands on their head, cheeks, and paw pads. However, if you start observing your cat’s ears flattening or tail starting twitch, immediately stop petting. Some cats only tolerate a few pets before they’ve had enough, and may bite you to stop the touching. Speak to your cat in soothing tones and when calms down and accepts petting, give it a treat.
5. Try putting a soft, wooly blanket on your lap
Since cats are magnetically attracted to warmth, a soft, wooly blanket may be just the invitation that entices your cat to sit on your lap. Some cats are also attracted by a cushiony, fluffy towel.
6. Use Cat Treats and Clicker training
It’s perfectly okay if your cat is reticent at first about sitting on your lap. Again, never force a cat into your lap. If your cat is sitting next to you, praise it verbally and give it a treat. As an experiment, try putting a few treats in your lap to make it more enticing, but don’t use too many since they can add extra unwanted calories to your cat’s diet.
Clicker Training is a powerful tool for training a cat. You will need a clicker (a small device that makes a clicking sound) and some food or treats. You need to establish a connection to the desired behavior with a click. This will reinforce the desired behavior. When your cat sits in your lap, give it a click and a treat.
7. Do Fun Activities with Your Cat
Cats need quality fun time, much in the same way that we do. In addition to regularly scheduled play time, many cats thoroughly enjoy taking walks outdoors with their owners once they are gently and patiently trained to accept a harness and leash. Cats are highly intelligent and require an enriched environment which, both exercises their body and stimulates their brain. “Catify” your home with several scratching posts around the house, a cat tree and wall shelves on which they can climb.
Engaging in fun activities with your cat can result in building a strong and lasting bond between you and your cat. As trust grows, your cat will become more attached to you, and ultimately may even enjoy sitting on your lap.
8. Continue building trust with your cat
If your cat doesn’t trust you, it will never willingly sit on your lap. Your cat needs to feel safe and secure with you.
Using a loud voice can be frightening and confusing to your cat, and chasing it to catch it simply doesn’t work. In fact, some cats will just interpret this as a game. Don’t try to avoid things that your cat doesn’t like, such as administering medication or trimming their claws. With patience, consistency, and rewards, these essential parts of cat care will simply become routine.