Cats can be mysterious creatures. You call their name to jump on your lap and they respond by walking in the other direction. They meow for food only to wander off as soon as you put it in their bowl. They curl up next to you for a good pet, purring with every stroke, when suddenly they decide it’s too much and run away. This may not describe all cats, but we can probably agree that feline behavior isn’t always easy to understand. Especially when it comes to computers.
If you work on a laptop, you likely know that the joy of your cat’s company can easily turn into annoyance as he or she takes over your keyboard, sending emails accidentally, getting in the way of your video call, and even throwing off the balance of your device as it tumbles to the floor—cat and all.
So, what’s the deal? Why is your cat so obsessed with a non-fuzzy, hard-surfaced piece of equipment that doesn’t dispense free food, offer love in return, or is even all that cozy to lay on?
“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.”
If it’s becoming a real problem for you, and you find yourself locking your feline out of the room when you need to work—but dearly wish you could enjoy their affection, there are steps you can take.
“You can break the habit by providing the cat a comfortable and a 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 on it,” 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.”
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