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Can You Make Your Cat into a Lap Cat?

Can you turn a reluctant cat into a lap cat?

If your cat isn't too interested in cuddling or hanging out on your lap while you watch TV, but you always hoped for a lap cat, is there anything you can do to get your wish?

While not all cats can be made into purring lap cats, there are some things you can do to encourage it.

Socialize Your Kitten Well

When you get a new kitten, be sure to handle her frequently and gently. In fact, the more humans who spend time lovingly caressing, speaking to, and holding your kitten, the more she will associate peoples' laps with warmth, security, and fun. Just be sure to talk with your veterinarian about an appropriate vaccination schedule for your kitten, to keep her as safe as possible during the socialization period.

Create Security for Your Cat

If you have an older cat that is a little skittish or reluctant to be handled, you must first increase her general feelings of security before she will feel safe hanging out on your lap.

Be sure your cat has some good hiding spots available, and provide high spots like a cat tree where she can perch and feel safe watching what's going on. There should be good scratching posts around your home so your cat can de-stress through scratching.

Give your cat an outlet for stress through play, as well. Use interactive toys to allow her to use her hunter instincts, so she'll begin to feel more confident.

If you have a multi-cat home, be sure that you have plenty of resources (litter boxes, food and water dishes, cat beds, and scratching posts) for all of the cats, so they don't feel like they need to compete for them. Competition between cats increases stress and decreases feelings of security.

Be Calm and Positive

Always interact calmly and positively with your cat. If you are high-anxiety, prone to yelling at or otherwise punishing your cat, or generally loud and boisterous, a timid cat may not feel comfortable hanging out with you.

Be patient while you teach your cat that you are a safe person for her to snuggle with.

Use Positive Reinforcement

You can start teaching your cat to hang out on your lap by offering her treats to come closer to you. She probably won't jump on your lap right away, but over time, you can wait until she gets nearer and nearer to hand over the treat. Sitting on the floor rather than on a chair can help in the beginning, so your cat doesn't feel like she'll be trapped if she gets on your lap.

Never grab and hold your cat once she does get onto your lap. This may alarm her and cause her to avoid the possibility of being similarly trapped in the future.

Be Quiet and Gentle

Once your cat is on your lap, be quiet, gentle, and move slowly. Don't make any sudden movements or loud noises. Consider using a lap blanket to encourage her to jump up and to keep you from being poked by claws if she should start to knead. After all, the last thing you will want to do if your shy kitty finally ventures onto your lap and starts happily making kitty muffins is to yelp loudly and push her off.

Save Unpleasant Tasks for a Different Time

If you have a cat that is reluctant to hang out on your lap and then finally creeps into it, don't take that opportunity to do something she is likely to hate, such as trim her nails or give her medicine. It's best to do those tasks on the floor or on a table so she doesn't associate her dislike of them with your lap.

Some cats will never be lap cats, but using the above techniques can go a long way toward helping a shy cat learn that your lap is safe. And, even if it doesn't, they're still sure to bond the two of you closer.

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