How can I get my cat to sit on my lap?

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Are you struggling to get your cat to sit on your lap? Here's our advice on how to encourage your cat to enjoy sitting with you on your lap.

While some cats crave affection and would do anything to sit on your lap, others can be timid and appear aloof. Most of the time, this just comes down to individual personality differences, but sometimes it can be a result of a lack of socialisation.

Kittens that have not been handled by humans during their first 3-7 weeks of life may have less of an inclination to be affectionate and, indeed, venture on to your lap.

If you have one of those reluctant cats, but have always wanted a cuddly lap-cat, there are a few things you could try.

To have the best chances of success with your cat, it’s important the environment is conducive to relaxing and cuddly times. Dim the lights and turn the TV on to a low volume. Then, we are aiming to make your cat feel positive associations with touch and contact, by pairing this with a reward (such as a special tasty treat!).

A few key points to remember:

  • Interactions should be limited to very short, planned sessions.
     
  • It’s important to try to read your cat’s body language and how to predict when anxiety is increasing — for example, tail twitching, stiffening of the shoulders/legs, dilation of the pupils — if you notice any of these signs stop the session.
     
  • Food can be a very powerful tool. It will act as a reward being handled and then, hopefully, for taking that big step on to your lap.
     
  • Take some of your cat’s favourite treats into your lounge and sit down on the sofa. While keeping your eyes fixed firmly on the TV and resisting the temptation to look at or speak to your cat, gently toss them, one at a time on to the floor in front of you. If he doesn’t come over at this stage just toss the treat a little further towards your cat (this will work better with a hungry cat!).
     
  • When your cat responds positively, place a treat on to your sofa, so that they have got to get onto the sofa beside you.
     
  • Eventually, lure your kitty on to your lap with a treat. It is very important to remember at this stage that you do not try to hold/pet your cat — you need him to feel as though he has full control.
     
  • Remember, you will need heaps of patience as this could take quite a considerable amount of time — but don’t give up.

The above exercises should be repeated daily and, hopefully, over a period of time your cat will feel safe and secure enough to curl up and rest on your lap, and you will have the lap cat you’ve always dreamed of!