My Cat Sits Next to Me But Not On My Lap

My Cat Sits Next to Me But Not On My Lap

Have you ever wondered why your cat sits next to you but not on your lap? Your the most common reason is that the cat is showing you affection but still has trust issues that prevent her from closer contact. It is also possible that you are not handling her right.  

My cat sits next to me but not on my lap – What it means? 

If you are a new cat parent, you may still be going through an adjustment phase with your cat.  Have you noticed that she is sitting next to you but not quite close? Or is she sitting next to you but not on your lap? Here are a few reasons for this behavior:  

It may be due to the age when your cat was brought to your home.

Did you bring your cat home while she was still a kitten? Or was she already a young adult when you took her in? One reason why your cat may have trust issues is that you brought her in at an more mature age. If a cat was brought in as a kitten, it is easier to teach her to be sociable and trusting but it is more difficult with a more mature cat.

Most cat experts agree that an ideal age to bring a feline home is when she is about 12 weeks old to have ample time to train and acclimatize her to be a sociable pet. 

Your cat may not be too sociable due to her background. 

One reason why your cat may be sitting next to you but not on your lap may be due to her background. If she was from a pet shelter or rescue center,  she may have a  problem with socialization. She may  be fearful of humans because she had abusive owners in the past. Cat behaviorists refer to them as trapped cats and it may take some time before your cat will warm up to you.  

It may be because you have other pets aside from your cat. 

Your cat may not be sitting on your lap because there are other pets in your household. It could be another cat or a dog. While we often see videos and hear stories of a multi-pet household where dogs and cats live in harmony, it is also a reality that pets do not always get along well with each other. 

It may be the way you’re handling her

Ever wonder why your cat sits on your friend’s lap when she visits you at home? Cats can be unpredictable and this may include their choice of humans to cuddle upon. Before you start harboring feelings of jealousy, you should try to understand your cat’s behavior. 

The reason may be that you are not handling your cat correctly. You need to pay attention to your cat and reciprocate her affection by cuddling and petting her. This way you are building trust and it will also encourage her to come closer to you. 

How to make your cat sit on your lap 

There are ways that increase the odds of making your feline a lap cat. These may or may not have the desired outcome as it depends on your cat’s temperament and character, but they are worth a try:

1. Try to calm the the cat’s anxiety

Many pet parents have had success with calming an anxious cat with CBD oil such as Chill Paws.

2. Build a secure environment for your cat. 

Getting your cat to trust you enough as to sit on your lap takes time but it is worth your effort. Start by creating a calm and secure surrounding for your cat.  Cats will not let their guard down if your home is full of chaos. Make sure that the environment provides comfort and security by providing a cat tree or hiding places as your cat’s solace should she feel uncomfortable. 

3. Establish a calm and trustworthy presence for your cat. 

Cats are finicky and tend to be sensitive so before enticing her to sit on your lap make sure there are no distractions. This may include a ringing cellphone or sudden noises. If you need to answer a phone call talk in a soft tone so as not to surprise your cat. 

4. Give her treats and make it a rewarding experience. 

Encouraging your cat to sit on your lap takes effort and patience but it is possible. Let your cat feel that she is more in control by sitting on a comfortable sofa instead of a chair with high arms.  Always have cat treats with you and toss them one at a time to invite your cat to come closer.  

If your cat responds well, place a treat on the sofa, and as she comes closer try to put treats on your lap, too.  If your cat goes into your lap do not hold her right away. Let her feel that she is free to stay or go as she pleases, this is an important step to build her trust. 

5. Ensure that you are interpreting your cat’s body language correctly. 

If your cat approaches you and tries to communicate by vocalizing or meowing, make sure that you are interpreting correctly what her behavior means. If your cat is meowing but also walking back and forth, it could mean that she is hungry and asking for food. Try to read her body language if she is in the mood for some cuddling and petting or if she wants to have some playtime.  

6. Pay attention to your cat’s preferences when it comes to petting and affection.

Some cats like long and gentle strokes while other cats prefer shorter strokes on just a particular body part.  Be sensitive to your cat’s preferences and if some particular strokes make your cat uncomfortable, stop doing it at once. Try to be observant of your cat’s sensitive spots. 

7. Do not trick your cat. 

While you are encouraging and teaching your cat to sit on your lap, you should not take this as a chance to trick her to take some medication or to trim her nails. Doing so will make your cat associate sitting on your lap with something that is undesirable for her. 

8. Give your cat freedom when she wants to move away from your lap. 

Do not grab or prevent your cat from getting away once she starts to sit on your lap. Give her the freedom to sit down on your lap or if she becomes jumpy and nervous, just let her be. Do not hold her against her will and savor the experience if she sits on your lap for just a few seconds. Try to keep the experience a positive one and hopefully the next time she comes up to sit on your lap it will be for a longer time.


If your cat sits next to you but not sitting on your lap, do not worry too much. It is okay if your cat does not want to sit on your lap. Be patient. Make extra effort to gain her trust and eventually she will warm up to you. It is possible to make your feline a lap cat with a little patience, cat treats, and by providing her a secure and comforting environment. 

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