Are lap cats made or born? Here’s what I told a reader.
Q: My cat doesn’t like to sit on my lap, and he doesn’t really like to be petted much either. Is there anything I can do to change his ways?
A: Having a cat sit on your lap is something special, and if his motor is running, it’s even better. It would be fantastic if we could train cats to be lap-sitters, but you might be surprised to learn that willingness to sit on a lap is a genetically influenced behavior. It’s not something that can be changed through early socialization or training.
And it turns out that cats who want to sit on a lap all the time have been found to be a little insecure. The fact that your cat doesn’t feel the need to cling to you but is comfortable in your presence says something special about the relationship between the two of you.
The good news is that for some cats, sitting close to you — within 18 inches — is their version of being friendly. And there are ways you can communicate with him through touch and body language that may encourage him to show you more affection.
Body language tells you if your cat is enjoying your touch. He may be particular about where you pet him and for how long. Running your hands through his fur might be soothing for you but annoying for him. A twitchy tail, a forward flick of the whiskers, ears laid back and rippling fur are all signs that your cat has had enough.
Grooming is one way to “pet” him that he may enjoy. Being brushed can feel relaxing and helps build that bond. Watch his body language: If ears go back, it’s time to stop. If ears are forward and eyes are half closed, he’s relaxed.
There’s more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.