Every cat owner has experienced their cat sitting on our laptop, book, newspaper or clothes. There are a few scenarios when it comes to cats sitting on our things. While cats have retained some of their former wild behaviours, thousands of years of domestication has also created a loving and sentient creature who wants to be a part of their human family.
Why do cats sit on things we’re using, when we’re using them?
Laptops, books, newspapers are popular objects for a cat to sit on which is a distraction to us, but that is the point. We are focused on reading or working and ignoring the cat. By getting between us and the object, our attention is now focused on the cat.
Cats will often engage in head rubbing with either their forehead or lips on the object or you. The ears, face and lips contain scent glands that are transferred to the object or you when the cat rubs against it as a way to mark the target as theirs. Head bunting can also be attention-seeking behaviour, which goes back to our focus being elsewhere when we are reading or using our computer, and not firmly on the cat. Getting between the object and head rubbing is their way of saying ‘hey, I’m here, give me head scritches‘.
Why do cats steal our spot on the sofa when we get up?
Have you ever got up to get a drink only to find the cat has nabbed your seat in the 2 minutes you were gone? Cats do this because our recently departed spot smells like us, and if they can’t be with us, they will be near our scent. Scent plays a very big part in a cat’s life, unfamiliar smells can be scary for a cat and familiar smells from their human family or scent marking can be comforting.
It also stands to reason that the spot we have just vacated is warm.
Why do cats sit on our clothes?
Cats sit on our clothes for much the same reason they steal our spot on the sofa, it smells like us. In fact, it is recommended that if your cat has a stay at the vet, bring along an item of clothing that can make the hospital stay less stressful.
Why do cats sit on our chest, neck and face?
Similar to the above answer, our faces are warm and cats like to seek out warm spots, but they may also be seeking out companionship and attention from their favourite human too.
During the day, we are usually at work or busy doing other things which means there’s little time for our cats to spend time with or on us, but many of us settle down on the sofa in the evening to watch some television and this is the perfect time for our beloved feline to spend some time with us.
Why do cats sit on clean laundry?
Clean laundry doesn’t smell like us, but many cats will make a beeline for a basket of fresh laundry. There are two possible explanations. The cat enjoys the elevated position a big pile of laundry in a basket provides and a soft bed. If the laundry has been freshly tumble dried, the warm will also be appealing.
Sitting on random or new objects
This is another common one, we bring something new into the house and the cat will circle it, sniff it, touch it with their paw and they will sit on it. This one is a little more difficult to explain and there is no data on why, but one would assume that once they have decided the new object is safe, they sit on it as a form of ownership.
Of course, this is not always the case, if it is a box, bag, basket, almost all cats will sit inside it. Every cat owner knows how much cats love boxes and bags, which provide a safe place for them to hide out, and also a cave for them to ambush their feline siblings or human family.
What can we do to stop it?
Cats will be cats, and most of these behaviours are because our cats love us and want to be close to us or close to something that smells like us. Obviously, it’s not ideal to go to work in fur-covered clothing, in which case, it is better to keep the clothing in a wardrobe, or prevent access to the bedroom by closing the door or buying a lint roller.
If you are working and not able to spend time with the cat, pick it up and put him or her on the floor. Don’t punish the cat which never works and don’t make a big deal out of it as this can reward the behaviour. Putting a perch or a bed close to your home computer is a compromise which means the cat can be close to you, but not on you. After all, isn’t that one of the perks of working from home…more time with the cat!
One smart Reddit member found the perfect solution, a decoy keyboard on the desk and the real keyboard underneath.
We choose to bring a cat into our homes for companionship, and most of us live busy lives, but we must also remember that our cats don’t understand that. We are a part of their family and they want to be with us.
If you are working on your computer or reading a paper, it can be a distraction if a cat comes between the two, but try to look at it from their perspective too and feel flattered that your cat loves you enough to want to be with you. Make time to schedule play every day to keep the cat occupied and if your cat solicits attention, try to reciprocate when you can. Our world consists of work, chores, friends and activities, but our cat’s world is much smaller, which means we make up a big part of their life and interaction with us all the more important.