Why won't my cat sit on my lap?
My old female cat sat on my lap but my male cat does not.
It can be difficult to adjust to a new pet when you’ve had a completely different pet before. But, like humans, cats each have their own unique personalities! Some of them like to cuddle, and others don’t. Whether they are male or female probably has little to do with this.
There are some things you can do to encourage your cat to sit on your lap though. Firstly, get your cat used to being around you. You can place a cat bed or blanket on the desk where you work, or on the sofa where you read - basically anywhere you’re likely to hang out in a calm and quiet way.
Associate good feelings to your cat being close to you. When he sits close to you, pet him on his face and under his chin. Give him treats. Brush him if he likes that :)
Avoid associating negative feelings to him being near you at all costs! Don’t pet him on the belly, or on the tail. Don’t stare at him. Don’t make quick movements or loud noises.
Always give your cat a choice. Don’t try holding him in your arms if he doesn’t like that, or holding him on your lap if he’s visibly uncomfortable and trying to get away. This will make your cat much less likely to come near you of his own accord in the future. Instead, let your cat come near you when he feels ready. When he does, be calm, and gentle. Encourage him with treats and scratches where he enjoys them.
Building a bond with your cat can also encourage him to want to spend more time with you. By grooming him, petting him, feeding him, and taking the time to play with him regularly, you can build and strengthen that bond.
Remember though, every cat is different, and some will never take a liking to sitting on laps. Don’t be disappointed if this is the case. It doesn’t mean your cat doesn’t love you, far from it! It just means he has different boundaries than your previous cat, and that’s ok.
I hope this helps a little. Best of luck!
Justine Seraphin, BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour and Welfare
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