Monday, December 7, 2009 11:46 AM

Lap Cats

Shortly after our cat Min died and I had brought home the litter I found outside my laboratory window at the University, J. said to me, "I want the gold tabby to be my cat. That means he prefers me to you and will sleep on top of me in the easy chair in the winter to keep me warm. I want my own lap cat!" Well, I guess he told me. You know what? Goldie is a lap cat, and he really favors J. How did we manage this? Magic!

Not really. Just about any cat can be turned into a lap cat with the right training. Males are usually more amenable to this behavior than females, though there are certainly females who will cuddle up with you at any time, and on short notice. The majority, however, are lap cats when they are in the mood. Depending on the animal, this can be often or occasional. It is my experience, though, that females are much more insistent than males when they do want attention. They'll hound you until you sit down (in their preferred chair, of course) and invite them up into your lap. Isn't it great to be so popular?

The first step to creating a lap cats is lots of handling when they are young. Hold them on your lap and cuddle them. Crazy as kittens are, they will grow to love this attention, and associate affection with being very close to you, i.e., in your lap. When you know that you'll be settling in for a while, say, to watch a movie or read the paper, invite a particular cat to jump into your lap. If you've been paying lots of attention to them, the passel of kittens will certainly be in the same room with you already, since they'll want to be around you. Of course, they'll probably be tearing the room apart, but grab your favorite and put him in your lap. Pet him as long as he'll take it, then let him go. Repeat the process with another one. As the kittens get older, they will start jumping on your lap, even without being invited to do so.

As you can see, it is not difficult to make your very own lap cat out of any that is available. Even if you adopt an adult, the same measures will work just as well. As a matter of fact, it may take less time because he or she won't be so kitten-crazy anymore! The lesson here is simple: If you want to be loved, be loving. It really works, and not only with cats!
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Amanda has worked with animals for many years and has always had cats in her life. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two excellent cats.
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