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.
Tip 6: Never trick your cat
If you’re trying to teach your cat that your lap is a safe and comfortable place to be, the last thing you want to do is trick her when she jumps up there by using that time to administer medication or trim nails.
Tip 7: Always give your cat the freedom to move away
If your cat starts to get wiggly or attempts to move away or jump down, don’t restrain her. If she knows she has the freedom to come and go as she pleases she’ll be more likely to return to your lap next time. If you hold her there against her will, she may no longer view being close to you as a positive experience. Even if your cat only comes onto your lap for a few seconds, keep the experience positive and relaxed and she may stay a few seconds more next time. That’s a great start.
Need more information about cat behavior?
For more specific information on cat behavior and training, refer to any of the best-selling books by Pam Johnson-Bennett. Pam’s books are available through your favorite online retail sites as well as in bookstores everywhere. You can also purchase books through our website.