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Why Are Only Some Cats “Lap Cats”? Understanding Your Pet


Last Updated on: August 30, 2023 by Crystal Uys

Cats are often seen as aloof, independent animals who don’t need anyone’s love or affection. But over the years, cats have become domesticated and very close to their human companions—so much so that some of them even like sitting on a lap for long periods of time. But why are only some cats “lap cats” while others refuse any type of contact or cuddling? The bottom line is that each cat will respond differently to physical affection, depending on personality and previous experiences with people. Let’s go deeper!

The History of Cats Becoming “Lap Cats”

Before cats became domesticated, they were wild animals that roamed the outdoors. To survive in this environment, they had to be able to hunt and defend themselves against other predators. This meant that cats had an innate fear of humans and would flee whenever one came near them. Over time though, cats began to realize that humans could provide them with food and shelter, so they started living closer to humans. This cohabitation eventually led cats to become domesticated and much less wary of people.

Why Some Cats Don’t Want to Snuggle

Some cats simply don’t like being held or cuddled because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Cats are predators, so when they’re in a vulnerable position (like on someone’s lap) their natural instinct is to flee and protect themselves. This feeling can be intensified if the cat is already stressed out from something else, such as a loud noise or unfamiliar face. It’s important for owners to understand the signs that their cat is uncomfortable in order to prevent any potential harm or distress.

Owner smiling and talking with cat
Image Credit: SritanaN, Shutterstock

Training Your Cat to Enjoy Being a “Lap Cat”

Although some cats may never become real lap cats, there are things you can do to encourage them to enjoy being held more often. Start by offering them treats or playing with them while you pet them, so they associate being touched as something positive. You should also give your cat plenty of attention throughout the day, so they know that you are there for them when needed. Spend a few minutes every day brushing your cat and talking to them in a soothing voice as this can help create a bond between the two of you.

Helping Cats Who Refuse to Sit on Your Lap

If your cat is still refusing to sit on your lap despite all the training, there may be an underlying medical condition or injury causing them discomfort. Visit your veterinarian to get your cat checked out and make sure they don’t have any hidden injuries that need attention. If no physical problems are found, it could be simply because your cat isn’t used to being held or cuddled. In this case, patience and consistency will be key—keep offering positive reinforcement and eventually your cat should come around!

Debunking the Myth That All Cats Love to be Petted

Many people think that all cats love being petted or cuddled, but this isn’t true at all. Some cats absolutely adore it while others may find it annoying or even frightening. The reason is because each cat has its own unique personality and preferences when it comes to interacting with humans. Some cats may seek out attention while others might prefer their alone time. Owners should understand their cat’s individual needs in order to provide them with the best possible care.

owner petting a hissing angry tabby cat
Image Credit: Anna Kraynova, Shutterstock

The Benefits of Allowing Your Cat to Have Their Space

Although it may be tempting to cuddle with your cat, it’s important to let them have their space when they need it. This will help your cat feel safe and secure in their environment, which can lead to a more content and healthier lifestyle for both you and your pet. Additionally, cats who are allowed to roam freely without feeling smothered or restrained tend to be less anxious and better behaved overall.

Understanding Your Cat’s Body Language to Know When They Need Some Space

It’s important to understand your cat’s body language so you know when they need some space. If your cat’s ears are flat against their head and their tail is twitching, this could be a sign that they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. When cats feel threatened, they will usually try to escape rather than seek out contact with their owners. Paying attention to these signals can help you create a loving environment for your cat where they feel safe and comfortable.

Tips for Building Trust and Affection With Your Cat

  1. Spend time playing together and give your cat plenty of affection.
  2. Offer treats and rewards when they engage in positive behavior.
  3. Speak to them in a calm and gentle voice so they learn to trust you.
  4. Let your cat approach you first instead of forcing them into physical contact.
  5. Establish regular feeding times so they know when to expect food and attention from you.
  6. Provide cozy hiding places for them if they become overwhelmed or anxious during playtime or petting sessions.
  7. Create safe spaces with scratching posts, toys, and other items that encourage natural behavior like stretching and climbing.
  8. Take things slow by starting with short cuddle sessions then gradually increasing the length of time.
  9. Don’t rush them—give your cat the space they need to become comfortable with physical contact.
  10. Leave a few items that smell like you in their bed or around their environment so they feel more secure when you’re not present.
tabby cat sleeping on owner's lap
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Accepting the Hard Truth: Some Cats Just Aren’t Cuddly

It’s important to remember that cats are creatures of habit and not all of them will have the same personality. Some cats may simply never enjoy being petted or cuddled, no matter how much you try to coax them into it. If your cat falls into this category, don’t be discouraged—there are plenty of other ways to bond with your feline friend! Spend quality time with them every day by playing fetch, offering treats and toys, or just talking to them in a soothing voice as this can create an even stronger bond between the two of you without physical contact.

It’s important to recognize that even cats who don’t enjoy being cuddled can still provide us with a lot of love and companionship. They show their affection in different ways—by purring, rubbing against our legs, or just sitting near us. A cat’s presence alone can bring joy and peace into our lives, no matter how much they do (or don’t) like physical contact. As long as we respect them and give them plenty of love and attention, our furry friends will always be there for us!

Other Ways to Be Affectionate With Your Cat

There are plenty of ways to show your cat affection without cuddling. Give them a massage, groom their fur with a brush or comb, offer treats and toys, or just sit in the same room with them for a while. You can also spend time playing games like hide-and-seek, chasing laser pointers, or using interactive toys that encourage natural behavior. Most cats enjoy having quiet moments with their owners as much as they do physical contact—as long as you give them plenty of attention and love, it doesn’t matter how you express it!


Cats are amazing companions that can offer unconditional love and unending entertainment. Although they may not be as affectionate or cuddly as dogs, cats can still learn to enjoy being held if given the right amount of time and patience. Understanding their unique personalities and paying attention to their body language will help you create a bond with your cat that goes beyond just petting them. With some extra training, soon enough you might have the pleasure of calling your furry feline friend a “lap cat.”

Featured Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock

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