Kim Houston explains how to engage with your cat so that they will sit on your lap.


How can I get my cat to sit on my lap?

Kim says: A few key points to remember:

  • Interactions should be limited to very short, planned sessions.
  • It’s important to try to read your cat’s body language and how to predict when anxiety is increasing — for example, tail twitching, stiffening of the shoulders/legs, dilation of the pupils — if you notice any of these signs stop the session.
  • Food can be a very powerful tool. It will act as a reward for being handled and then, hopefully, for taking that big step onto your lap.
  • Take some of your cat’s favourite treats into your lounge and sit down on the sofa. While keeping your eyes fixed firmly on the TV and resisting the temptation to look at or speak to your cat, gently toss them, one at a time on to the floor in front of you. If he doesn’t come over at this stage just toss the treat a little further towards your cat (this will work better with a hungry cat!).
  • When your cat responds positively, place a treat on to your sofa, so that he has got to get onto the sofa beside you.
  • Eventually, lure your kitty on to your lap with a treat. It is very important to remember at this stage that you do not try to hold/pet your cat — you need him to feel as though he has full control.
  • Remember, you will need heaps of patience as this could take quite a considerable amount of time — but don’t give up. The above exercises should be repeated daily, and, hopefully, over a period of time, your cat will feel safe and secure enough to curl up and rest on your lap, and you will have the lap cat you’ve always dreamed of!

Kim Houston – BSc (Hons), Dip (AS) CABC, CCAB is a consultant in feline behaviour. She works with clients throughout the UK, helping to resolve cat behaviour problems. Find out more at


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