4 Reasons Why Cats Love to Sit on Keyboards

To many cat owners, cats seem to have a special affinity for interfering with work. Social media is full of the evidence that cats like to strategically sit on laptops, keyboards, and generally anything else that we need to do our work. There is even Cats and Keyboards on Reddit.

So, why is it that cats seem to take a special enjoyment in interrupting our work? There are four main reasons why your cat likes to lie across your keyboard while you are working.

Cats are Curious

Your cat sees you intently starting at your monitor all day. Cats are incredibly curious and they want to inspect why you stare at your device all day long. The best way to do that is to get in between you and your monitor.

Cats Want Attention

The main reason your cat seems to want their midday nap to be right on top of your keyboard is attention. Cats love attention from their owners.

They see you intently staring at your laptop or typing furiously away on your keyboard. The quickest way for them to demand attention is to insert themselves in between what’s talking up your attention and you.

A black cat sitting behind the monitor of a laptop.
A black cat seeks attention from her owner by sitting near the laptop. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

And this strategy works. Oftentimes, the owners will stop what they are doing and pet the cat, rewarding them for their behavior.

Cats Want Something

Cats will also get in between you and your work when they want you to do something for them. Outside of wanting attention, this most oftentimes is because your cat wants you to feed them.

A cat sprawling across your keyboard or laptop can be an attempt by your cat to communicate a need to you.

A black cat lying across a black keyboard on a white table.
Cats will also place themselves across keyboards to demand food. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Your Keyboard is a Warm Spot for Cats

The final reason why cats love to lie on top of keyboards while you’re working is warmth. A laptop that’s in use will be warm. The internal components of the laptop that sit under the keyboard such as the graphics card and processor heat up when in use.

Cats are always seeking out warm spots to lie in and the keyboard is another source of heat.

Tips to Stop Your Cat From Sitting In Your Keyboard

Despite the annoyance of trying to meet that deadline while your cat is insistent that you stop working and pet them, there can be some benefits. The author of one journal article (Anderton, 2014) notes tongue-in-cheek that cats can help you discover new computer shortcuts when they unexpectedly leap on to your keyboard.

If you don’t want to have to figure out why your laptop has all new settings after your cat walks across your keyboard, here are some tips to encourage your cat’s attention elsewhere.

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Never Scold Your Cat for Sitting on Your Keyboard

First, it’s important to note that you should never scold or punish your cat for sitting on your keyboard. Your cat is expressing a form of affection and returning that display with a negative response will confuse your cat.

Cat’s are very sensitive and will hold on to that hurt for a long time. It’s better to respond positively to your cat’s attempt at communication with and provide them with something to divert their attention.

Spend Quality Time With Your Cat Outside of Work

Despite their reputation as being independent animals, cats are very sociable beings that need lots of attention. Your cat will be less likely to seek out your attention when you’re working if you spend quality time playing and interacting with them before and after work.

Mini Laptops for Cats

Some pet owners have had success with providing their cats with their very own mini laptops to sit on. Cats are curious by nature and will explore any new object that shows up. Set up the mini laptop near your own keyboard and watch your cat explore the new addition.

Set Up a Cat Bed Next to Your Workspace

If your cats love to be near you while you work, consider setting up a resting area on the desk where you work if you have the space. Any open box or basket will most eagerly be claimed by your cat as a napping space.

An orange tabby sitting in a small basket with a wooden handle.
Try setting up an open basket or box next to where you work for your cat to hang out in. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

References

Anderton, C. (2014). Five reasons why cats make wonderful studio peripherals. Electronic Musician30(8), 82-83.

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