Here’s Why Cats Love Laptops
No, your feline friend isn't trying to sabotage your important work email.
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Cats can be mysterious creatures. You call their name, and they respond by walking in the other direction. They curl up next to you, purring with every pet, then suddenly decide they’ve had enough and run away. We have so many questions about cat behavior. For instance, why do cats knead? Why do cats purr? Why do cats loaf? Why do cats sleep so much, and why can’t we get away with it too? OK, so those might be pretty normal on the spectrum of weird things cats do, but here’s a real stumper: Why do cats love laptops?
Why do cats love laptops?
Working from home is more common than ever, and while we may be experiencing a golden age of cat memes, we’re also dealing with unprecedented levels of cat interference at work. It’s one thing for your cat’s face to compete with yours on a video call, but it’s an entirely different thing for your furry pal to flop onto your keyboard as you draft an important email.
There’s no harm in your cat sitting on your laptop—at least to your kitty. You, on the other hand, might take issue with the typos and the loss of work that ensue. And you probably wonder: Why do cats love laptops when they’re little more than hard-surfaced devices that don’t dispense food or cuddles? Is it for security, similar to why cats love boxes, or something else?
The clue is in the context surrounding your cat’s laptop love. Chances are, your cat enjoys lying on your keyboard only when you’re trying to use it. It’s not the laptop your cat is interested in. It’s you.
Here’s why your cat keeps sitting on your laptop
“Many cats sit on spots such as keyboards and laptops because they are near their favorite person and can be at the center of their attention,” explains Marilyn Krieger, certified cat behavior consultant and author of Naughty No More: Changing Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement. “Usually people reinforce the behavior by petting the cat and/or talking with him. Cats quickly learn that when they sit on the keyboard, they get what they want: attention.”
Some people think that cats are also drawn to laptops because the machines are warm. It’s no secret that cats like things a little warmer than we do. Their thermoneutral zone—the temperature range at which they don’t need to expend energy to cool off or get warm—is between 85 and 100 degrees, which is why you’ll see your cat napping in a sunbeam whenever it can.
But it’s more likely that your cat is drawn to your computer’s scent rather than its heat. If your cat likes to rub its face on your laptop, it does so for the same reason it rubs against you: It’s possessive. Kitties have scent glands that transfer their scent onto things they rub against, claiming them as part of their territory.
By rubbing its face on your laptop and sitting its fluffy bum right where you’d planned to type, it’s basically meowing “mine!” As if you didn’t already know that everything that’s yours is also your cat’s.
How to keep your cat off your laptop
If your cat’s laptop love is becoming a real problem and you find yourself locking your feline friend out of the room when you need to work, there are steps you can take. Just make sure you don’t do any of these things that your cat hates.
“You can break the habit by providing the cat a comfortable and desirable place to settle that is next to you while simultaneously reinforcing and rewarding him with affection and attention when the cat is sitting or lying [in that spot],” Krieger says. “At the same time, discourage him from hanging out on the keyboard by making it an uncomfortable place to sit and difficult to access.”
You can also buy your kitty its very own cat decoy laptop. Not only does it free up your laptop for work, but it also has a scratching pad, so your pet can keep its claws strong without scratching your furniture.
- Marilyn Krieger, certified cat behavior consultant and author of Naughty No More: Changing Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement