Eight Tips to Turn Your Cat into a Lap Cat

Some cats are born with an innately affectionate personality while others tend to be fiercely independent. Research has established that behavioral traits in cats have a genetic basis with certain cat breeds more likely to have extremely amiable personalities.

Environmental factors play an important part in a cat’s disposition. Since kittens learn everything about their environment and their relationship with humans by the time they reach seven to eight weeks of age when the socialization period closes, this is the crucial period in which their personalities are formed. A litter of kittens handled by a human shortly after birth will tend to be more affectionate and easier to handle than a kitten born into a feral colony.

sleeping cat

Cat lovers generally prefer to have a cat that enjoys sitting on their lap. However not all cats are born to be lap-cats. Is it really possible to train a cat to sit on your lap and is it really necessary to enjoy your relationship with your kitty? 

If this is something that your heart truly desires, here are a few ways in which you can start building trust with your cat, but only by convincing her that it is her choice to become a lap-sitter.

1. Make Your Cat Trust You

Building trust can be accomplished by simply accepting your cat just as she is. Since some cats truly hate being picked up and handled; don’t force her into being held.

2. Pet Your Cat Right Away

Let your cat come to you and never demand her to sit in your lap. Cats are predatory animals and are curious about everything in their environment.

Spend time playing interactively with your cat using 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 her pent-up energy and mimics her instinctive hunting behavior. After your play session, feed her – just enough amount of cat food. 

3. Say No To Punishments

Never punish a cat. Cats respond poorly to negative reinforcement. This only causes 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; give her a treat right away.

4. Make sure your cat is relaxed.

Your cat’s emotional state can be affected by many factors such as pain, illness, environmental factors that are causing her stress. 

Cats hide pain and illness as an instinctual survival tactic, until they are extremely ill. 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.

It’s essential to learn to read your cat’s body and tail language. Cats are constantly communicating with their owners. Tails held high are signs of a contented, confident cat. When your cat is making an overture to petting, she may sit next to you and rub against you with her head and body. 

Gently start scratching her under her chin and rubbing her around her face. Cats are loaded with scent glands on their head, their cheeks, and their paw pads. But if you start observing her ears flattening or her tail starts twitching, immediately stop petting her. Speak to her in soothing tones and when she accepts petting, give her a treat.  

5. Try putting a soft, wooly blanket on your lap

Since cats are attracted magnetically 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. 

soft tabby cat enjoying and purring in lap of owner

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 her into your lap. If she is sitting next to you, praise her verbally and give her a treat. As an experiment try putting a few treats in your lap to make it more enticing. Ration treats since they can add extra unwanted calories.

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. Establish a connection between a desired behavior with a click. This reinforces the desired behavior. When your cat sits in your lap, give her a click and a treat.

7. Do Fun Activities with Your Cat

Cats need quality fun time much in the same way as 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 as such 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 upon 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.

maine coon cat lying on the lap of people

8. Continue building trust with your cat

If your cat doesn’t trust you she 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 her to catch her simply doesn’t work. In fact, some cats will just interpret this as a game. Avoiding 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 can become just routine.

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