You know you’re a cat parent when you’ve felt that famous kneading sensation as a cat prepares to get cozy on your lap. Cats can be mysterious at the best of times, but things are even more baffling when a typically aloof cat starts making a nest out of your lap.
So, what’s the deal? What is it about laps that make cats determined to snuggle up there, even if they’re not the fussiest cat as a rule or have a fiercely independent streak? There are a few reasons why cats like sitting on laps, and, after you’ve read this post, we hope things make a bit more sense!
The 6 Likely Reasons Cats Like Sitting on Laps
1. They’re Seeking Warmth
One of the most common reasons cats like sitting on laps is simply that, if there’s any warmth to be found, you can guarantee a cat will seek it out. This is likely a result of the fact that the cats we know and love today descend from desert cats that would have had to seek out heat to survive when temperatures dropped during cold nights.
A cat’s body temperature falls between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas a human’s falls between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. This tells us more about why cats seek out heat—they have a higher body temperature to maintain.
So, if it’s winter and your usually independent moggy has started curling up on your lap or sneaking under your covers at night, warmth is likely their primary motivation.
2. They Like to Feel Safe
In your cat’s eyes, your lap is one of the safest places in the world. In the wild, cats are most vulnerable when they’re sleeping, and, though there’s nothing for them to fear in a domestic setting, the instinct to stay safe remains. If they’re sleeping on your lap, any kind of “predator” has to get past you first!
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3. They Enjoy Your Company
It’s a huge compliment when a cat chooses your lap to snooze on, as it means that they regard you as their safe space and enjoy your company. It also puts them in a great position to receive plenty of strokes and back scratches, to hear your voice, and to simply spend time with you. If your cat didn’t like you, they certainly wouldn’t be sitting on your lap! Consider yourself “chosen”.
4. Your Smell Is Comforting
Cats have a top-notch sense of smell—about 14 times stronger than that of a human to be more precise. They take comfort in smells that are familiar to them, so if they spend a lot of time on your lap, it’s likely that they’ve latched onto your scent, and it makes them feel safe and secure.
5. They Like Your Clothes
The clothes you wear play a big part in how comfortable your cat feels when they sit on your lap. If you enjoy sitting on the couch with a fluffy blanket over your knees or in a nice pair of comfy jogging bottoms, your cat is more likely to want to sit on you because these kinds of things feel good to them, too. They also get used to the scent of your clothes and take comfort in this.
6. They Just Love You!
True, some cats are of a more independent nature, but others are very affectionate (some to the point of sheer, unashamed clinginess!) and like to show how much they love and trust you by being as close to you as possible. So, if you’ve got a cat that seems to be constantly on your lap whatever the weather, it may just be one of the ways they show affection.
Moreover, certain breeds are famous for being little lovebugs, including the Siamese, Ragdoll, Maine Coon, Sphynx, Birman, and Persian among others. If you have one of these breeds, don’t be surprised if they seem to permanently think your lap is the place to be!
Why Has My Cat Suddenly Become Clingy?
If your cat isn’t typically a fan of sitting on your lap and suddenly seems more clingy than usual, it might simply be that the weather has gotten colder and they’re seeking warmth. It’s a good idea to be vigilant for any other behavioral changes or health changes, though, as cats can become more clingy than usual when they’re sick. They do this to feel more secure while they’re vulnerable.
Keep an eye out for signs like a lack of energy, sleeping more than usual, changes in bathroom habits and eating habits, vomiting, diarrhea, vocalizing more than usual, weight changes, or anything else that seems strange to you. Contact your vet if you suspect your cat might be sick.
My Cat Never Sits on My Lap—Do They Hate Me?
Not at all! While some cats are real pots of glue, some cats just aren’t keen on sitting on people’s laps, and that’s completely normal. Your cat may simply prefer to show you affection in other ways, like sitting next to or near you, head-bumping you, rolling onto their belly in front of you, greeting you when you get home, purring around you, or slowly blinking at you from across the room.
There are ample reasons why cats enjoy sitting on laps, including warmth, safety, and companionship. If your cat doesn’t sit on your lap, though, don’t worry. Some cats are simply more independent, but that doesn’t mean they’re not showing love in other ways. If your cat does sit on your lap, it’s a sure sign that they view you as their friend, protector, and, of course, personal heater!