Pet Behaviorists Explain Why Your Cat Loves to Sit on Your Laptop
It has something to do with their so called "thermoneutral zone."
Ask any cat parent and they'll probably say the same: Their feline friends love to sit on their laptops, especially when they're busy at work on them. "Many cats really like the attention and just being close to their people," says certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger of The Cat Coach. So, while in some cases cats exhibit this behavior because they want your attention, experts say there also appears to be a biological reason they like to sit on your lapto. "A cat's thermoneutral zone—otherwise known as the temperature range in which they don't have to generate heat to stay warm or expend energy to cool off—is between 86 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit," says certified cat behavior consultant Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions. "Cats like things a lot warmer than humans, and to get that extra warmth, they enjoy sitting on things like heat vents, carpet warmed by the sun, and laptops!"
Looking for some easy ways to keep your cat happy, warm, and off of your laptop? We asked our feline behavior experts for advice, and here's what they had to say.
Keep your cat distracted.
If it's attention your cat is after when you're working on your laptop, our experts suggest entertaining them with toys or treats elsewhere. "Try having a good workout session with an interactive wand toy (Da Bird is my favorite) followed by a snack or small meal," Koski says. "This will initiate the hunt-eat-groom-sleep sequence, and give you some time after the play session to work without interruption."
Provide a heated rest area.
Since cats are naturally drawn to things that provide them with warmth, like laptops, Koski recommends supplying them with an alternative heated rest area near your desk. "If your cat is looking for something warm, try placing a heated cat bed nearby so that your cat can stay warm while still being within your reach for petting opportunities," she says.
Or an extra-comfy lounge spot.
If your cat isn't a fan of heated beds, then consider carving out another comfortable spot nearby where they can hang out while you work. "Provide your cat with an alternative, comfortable spot—such as a cat tree, shelf, or some comfy pillows on a reachable surface—to hang out on that is at least as desirable, if not more, than the laptop," Krieger says. "Make sure to place it next to the cat person, so he or she can easily pet the cat and give them attention."
Don't give your cat attention when she's on your laptop.
Like it or not, every time you pet, talk, or even pick up your cat to remove her from your laptop, Krieger says you might be making matters worse. "Don't inadvertently reinforce the laptop sitting behavior by giving her attention when she's on it," she says. "Clicker training is a very effective technique for training cats to hang out on the alternative, acceptable spots instead of on places that are off limits."
"And since it's common for owners to pet or even pickup their cat to move them from their laptops, they're actually reinforcing the behavior by giving them attention."
Reward your cat for finding a new spot.
"It's important to never punish your cat for sitting on your laptop," Koski says. "The best thing to do is to reward your cat for going to an alternative spot, by calling them over to the area and giving them a treat when they come (or anytime they go to that area on their own). Gradually, they'll start gravitating to that spot instead of your laptop."