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Training a Kitten to be a Lap Cat
Having a pet is wonderfully comforting. It is a member of your family, in addition to all those humans with whom you live. Research has found that having a pet can actually have the beneficial health effect of lowering one's blood pressure! I don't know if the studies supporting this assertion included iguanas, fish, and birds, but I venture to assume that it definitely included dogs and cats. These popular animal friends can live in our homes and have the cuddling attraction of soft fur (most of them.)
Cats as a species, however, have the well-earned reputation of being much less interested in pleasing their human family members than do dogs. Therefore, training is possible but perhaps not as straight-forward as with canines.
Eager to Please
Daily Training Creates Habits
Brain research for humans indicates that performing a task daily (such as practicing one's clarinet) tells the mind that this is must be an important function or skill. Music teachers have told me that to learn well it is better to practice 5 minutes a day every day than to practice for 45 minutes only once during the week. Experts at changing habits often cite 30 days as the watershed period for making a change or instilling a new behavior. Since cats and people are both mammals, I decided to apply these ideas to my new kitten.
Cats Sleep a Lot
An advantage with training a cat where to sleep is the number of hours per day that they slumber: approximately 20 hours! This means that you have incredible windows of opportunity to do your training.
Very Young Kitten
5-Step Method to Make a Lap Cat
- Collect a VERY YOUNG kitten. Just weaned is the perfect age. A yearling cat is too old.
- Find a quiet place for lap training with a comfortable sitting spot. This may be a chair, sofa, or bench. If you enjoy sitting on the floor and plan to have your kitty sleep on your lap there, then take the floor! Also, this spot should be away from disturbances or interruptions. I used my home office and the chair at the my computer. Now, as we have our nap habit established, I can do reading or work on the computer and my little fellow is perfectly comfortable.
- Commit to a half-hour per day during the training month to spend time playing with and then holding your sleepy kitten in your stable lap.
- Keep your legs and lower body still. No cat is going to feel safe with the equivalent of an earthquake under her caused by your fidgeting to reach a phone, tissue, or file. Have everything you might want right at hand before you lift the dumpling into your lap. Put electronic devices on mute. Hopefully, sleepy turns into sleeping.
- Anytime your kitten (and as she grows, your cat) comes to your lap anywhere in your home, make time to be still and let her climb in. Enjoy the moment, the warmth, and the love. Share the safety and comfort of each other. If you send the message that you have the time for your friend, the habit will stay. In contrast, if you brush her away - she will learn the new program of "don't bother trying to sit with THAT person."
Lap Cat Training Success
One may assert that I have both audacity and arrogance to claim credit for my little orange cat's propensity to mew at me and then hop up into my lap for a nap. I am a mere human and he is a CAT - a superior being known for independence and little regard for pleasing people (which makes any act to please all the more valuable!) All I can say is that I wanted a cat who would like sitting in my lap, so when I adopted the little cutie I instituted the training plan I have described.
I now have a lap cat.
Was it my diligent, loving training or was it the inherent nature of my new family member? Only Bastet knows. :-)
Photos and text copyright 2014 Maren E. Morgan.