I think it’s safe to say that most of us want our cats to cuddle with us, let us hold them, and sit on our lap. But just because a cat is not a lap cat doesn’t mean that she’s not affectionate. Cats show affection in any number of ways, through purring, head butting, cheek rubbing or grooming us. And then there’s the slow “I love you” blink, guaranteed to melt your heart.
Different cats, different ways of showing affection
While it’s possible to encourage cats to become lap cats, it’s important to honor each cat’s unique personality. Almost every cat can learn to trust and show affection on his or her own terms.
Ruby was my “velcro kitten” from the very start. If she had had her way, she would have been permanently glued to me 24/7. With the exception of her first few days in our home, when she was a bit more reserved as she was getting used to her new environment, she always loved to be held and squished and kissed.
Allegra, on the other hand, was not a lap cat for the first several years after I adopted her. Every once in a great while, she’d grace me with some lap time, but usually only for a few minutes, and most definitely on her terms.
Around the time she turned five, I began to see a gradual change. She would start to come up on my lap more frequently when I settled in for some TV watching in the evening, and once she was settled, there wasn’t much that would dislodge her, even though Ruby tried her best. Ruby did not like seeing Allegra on my lap, and sometimes she tried to wedge herself onto my chest while Allegra was sleeping on my lap. Much to my surprise, Allegra tolerated this, and it was usually Ruby who left first, with a great big huff.
Over the last three years since Ruby died, Allegra has become even more affectionate. I think part of it is that she was always a little bit in Ruby’s shadow. Ruby had such a huge personality, and she was not shy about asking for what she wanted, whereas Allegra was and still is a more quiet, almost shy cat. But Allegra now frequently comes up on my lap. She joins me most mornings when I meditate (and if there’s a better way to start the day than to mediate with a purring cat on your lap, I don’t know what that might be.) She loves to sit in my lap when I read and watch TV. And she has staying power now – a staying power that usually outlasts my bladder capacity! I always hate when I have to dislodge her before she’s ready to hop off.
Before Allegra and Ruby, there was Amber, who was a total lap cat. When Buckley joined our family, Amber reluctantly shared my lap.
And before Amber and Buckley, there was Feebee, who also loved being on my lap. I don’t have any digital photos of Feebee on my lap.
Can you teach a cat to be a lap cat?
You may not be able to turn every cat into a lap cat, but there are a few things you can try:
- When you’re relaxing, have a bag of treats ready and occasionally toss one for your cat. Gradually move the treats closer to you by placing the on the chair or couch next to you. Praise your cat when she comes to get the treats, but don’t hold her down
- Place your cat’s favorite bed or blanket on the sofa next to you. Some cats may never be comfortable on your lap, but will enjoy being near you.
- Never force the issue. After all, it’s called unconditional love for a reason.
It has been a wonderful gift to watch Allegra’s evolution from a somewhat aloof young cat to a serious lap cat, especially after Ruby passed away. I treasure every moment when she’s curled up or stretched up on my lap, and I just wish human biology wouldn’t interfere with the experience!
Are your cats lap cats?