Etiquette Hell

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Title: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: TootsNYC on February 07, 2013, 04:00:35 PM
We want to get a cat in a few weeks' time, and we're wondering whether to get a kitten or a young cat.

The 2 cats I've owned as a grownup came to me as kittens, and they neither one of them were much for lap sitting or snuggle sleeping.

My son would like to have the kind of cat that likes laps and sleeps on your head.

An older cat will have expressed its personality, so finding one that likes to be snuggly might be more guaranteed.

But can you influence a kitten to be that way?
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: magicdomino on February 07, 2013, 04:11:30 PM
Not really, at least in my experience.  Cuddlekitties seem to be born, not made.  Magic, despite being extremely timid, loves to be on top of me.  Her brother, Domino the Neurotic can barely stand to get his ears scratched.  Nani doesn't like casual petting, and hates being picked up, but will snuggle next to me if I'm sitting down.  Koa will snuggle for about 15 minutes, then leaves.

Domino and Magic were 7 or 8 months old when I got them.  Even then, Domino kept his distance, while Magic would immediately crawl into my lap as soon as I sat down.  So, your best way of getting a cuddlekitty is to sit on the floor, and see who comes and sits on you.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: katycoo on February 07, 2013, 04:14:18 PM
Nope.  We'd LOVE our cats to be lap cats but they're just not interested.  The closest they come is occasionally, OCCASIONALLY, if I'm laying on the sofa with a doona over me, one might come sit on the doona.  I'm convinced its because they're too stupid to realise my lap is underneath.
One does sleep on our bed, but only around our legs, and he never even sits with us on the couch when we're awake.

If snuggly is a must, get a grown up kitty.  I'm for adopting a grown up kitty anyway - they're much less desired and so lovely.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: dawbs on February 07, 2013, 04:15:52 PM
I'm going with 'nope' too.
Some cats have the cuddle gene, some don't.

My crazy/evil/destruct-o-kitty cuddles,...but only on his own terms.  The other kitty was sitting in my lap purring the first day she came home and that's the way she's been ever since.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Amara on February 07, 2013, 04:17:05 PM
I agree with getting a grown-up cat. The shelter people can tell you which ones are snuggle-buns. And they also know their personalities. While kittens are adorable, the adults come "pre-categorized" (so to speak) plus they don't get adopted quite as often so your "adoption points" go way up when you get one.  ;)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Sebastienne on February 07, 2013, 04:24:58 PM
I think snuggling can be drawn out of them, if it's inherent but they don't know it yet. We rescued one of our cats from the mean streets of Chicago when he was maybe two years old (it was winter, we thought he was pregnant, we were very wrong), and he was so wary of us for the first few months that we couldn't even touch him. Ten years later, he's the biggest cuddler in the history of cuddling; he sleeps in my arms like a teddy bear. But we're pretty sure that instinct was there all along; he just didn't know it was a thing.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: jpcher on February 07, 2013, 04:48:44 PM
I got my snuggle kitty when she was first weaned, so 4 weeks? I would carry her around with me, pick her up whenever I sat/laid down, gave her lots of hugs and attention. I don't know if she was born with the snuggle gene, or if she was "trained" to snuggle so early on, but she sure was snuggly all of her life. (Boy, do I miss her. :'()


My now kitty is a snuggler only when she feels like it, which isn't often. I got her when she was 7-8 months old and have no clue as to her prior life. No matter how the DDs or I tried to "train" her to be a snuggler the answer is always "Nope. Noway, nohow. I don't live by your rules." But we love her anyway and thoroughly enjoy the times when she deems us worthy of her snuggles. ::)


I guess the important thing is to tell your son that cats are like people. Everybody's different. Just because the cat doesn't enjoy snuggles doesn't mean it's a bad cat.

As a side note, DD#2 is a snuggler. Always has been ever since she was a baby. She still hold my hand when we're out in public. DD#1 is not big on hugs and stuff, even with her BF. So maybe there is something to the cuddle-gene theory, be it a cat or a human.



Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: MerryCat on February 07, 2013, 05:02:03 PM
I thought kittens would be moldable too. That's why I was so excited when we got Mitten as a tiiny little month-ish old kitten. I figured I could train her to be snuggly, lovable, laid back, etc.

Right from the first day Mitten had her own plans. She cuddled when she wanted to cuddle, and when she was done she was done. With lots of patience she's finally starting to come around at a year and half old. She'll still only snuggle on her own terms, but it's happening more often these days :)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 07, 2013, 05:29:35 PM
Bailey was not a lap kitty for the first couple of years that we had her but once I became pregnant with Piratebabe she started sitting in my lap (or what there was of it. ;) ) Now anytime I'm sitting down in a quiet place like in my room, she'll hop up and insist on being petted, but she won't do it in the living room.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: LadyL on February 07, 2013, 06:16:49 PM
My cat is not a huge snuggler but I did train him to sit in my lap by rewarding him with brushing when he does it. He will do it anywhere from  1-3 times a week. He will also cuddle if someone is using one of his favorite blankets with the fluffy texture. But he will not come sit in my lap just for the fun of it, he's too independent and will only do it if there's something extra in it for him (he's also very smart).
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on February 07, 2013, 06:21:55 PM
In my experience, you can't really train a cat to be a snuggle bug. If that's what you'd really like in a cat, I'd suggest planning to adopt an adult cat, and telling shelter staff that that's what you're looking for. I can almost guarantee that there will be one or more kitties who will be perfect for you! Remember that if that's the most important thing to you, you will in the long run value the cat's personality more than a pretty face.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Nikko-chan on February 07, 2013, 06:27:03 PM

My son would like to have the kind of cat that likes laps and sleeps on your head.


Maybe just the lap. There is a chance that if kitty also loves sleeping above someone's head.... kitty will also like to "groom" the person she is sleeping above. Said person will not like it when kitty gets into grooming and wraps paws around the person's head, claws and all. Just a thought.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Auntie Mame on February 07, 2013, 06:29:40 PM
They're born with it.  They are snuggly lap kitties or not.  My BF have polar opposite cats.  His cat hates, hates, HATES being picked up and won't get on a lap to save her life.  Whereas my cat believes "all the laps belongz to ME!".  They were both raised with tons of love and affection, it's just how their personalities are.

If you adopt a slightly older cat (1 to 4 years or so) you can get a much better feel for how snuggly they are.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Onyx_TKD on February 07, 2013, 08:07:07 PM
My family's two cats were adopted as young kittens. So young that the female wasn't even weaned yet, and we had to get kitten formula for her--the shelter thought both kittens were eating solid food, but really the male was the only one eating it. Despite being held and snuggled as kittens, neither of them ever became a lap kitty or liked being held (they weren't allowed on the beds, so no idea how cuddly they would have been there).

However, not liking laps didn't make them not cuddly--they adored being petted and would happily cuddle up with us on other terms, like hopping up on the piano bench to cuddle with whoever was playing.* There was just something about sitting directly on people's laps that freaked them out. Hold a cardboard box on your lap and they would curl up purring for ages. One of them liked to crawl in some cloth mesh bags we had and would happily allow us to carry her around the house practically upside down in the bottom of a bag (with no possibility of getting her feet under her if she was dropped), but wouldn't tolerate being held in someone's arms for more than a few seconds. Occasionally we could set her down on our laps while she was inside the mesh bag, and she'd be perfectly happy until she caught on that she was sitting on a lap and she'd immediately try to get away. I think cats are just weird and if you'd like a particular variety of cuddlyness, trying to adopt an adult cat is probably best. Otherwise, you'll probably have to adjust to the kitten and figure out if there is some type of cuddling that it likes, even if it means you end up needing to keep cat-size shoeboxes throughout the house for when you want a lap cat.

*It's a bit challenging to play the piano while a cat takes advantage of you sitting still to affectionately headbutt you in the armpit, especially if you're ticklish, like me and my brother...
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on February 07, 2013, 09:22:04 PM
My Bailey is a groomer.  I think it was on Saturday she woke DH up by licking his hand and she's been known to lick my face, hands, any exposed skin.  I really don't mind unless I'm trying to do something...like sleep in. 
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Aeris on February 07, 2013, 09:43:27 PM
This is pretty solidly a cat personality trait rather than a trainable behavior. It would be sort of like saying you wanted to adopt a child who would be really into sports. You can try to *foster* that trait, but you can't create it out of nothing and ultimately you have little control over it. It's best to be pretty comfortable with the typical full range of cat personalities before committing to adopting.

There are some breeds that are more commonly lap cats though, so you could research those breeds and try to see if shelters have kittens that appear to be those breeds when you're adopting. But even then it's far from a guarantee.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Julian on February 07, 2013, 10:14:10 PM
In my experience they're either snuggle-bugs or not, and nothing I've done with them has changed that.

Morty, one of the current batch, is Not A Lap Cat, hates being picked up, and only on exceedingly rare occasions will he get on a lap at all.  However, he loves rough love, nuggies, brushes (he'll stand on my lap drooling if I brush him, but won't sit down) and attention.  He will stand there demanding attention, complete with mournful howls, elbow licking and The Claw - one extended claw that he pokes with till he gets what he wants.  This, from a cat who never ever in his life intentionally scratched anyone, adult or child, and who as a tiny little kitten would gleefully claw the stuffing out of a toy but retract claws once a hand came near.  And he'll happily lie next to somebody with his head cushioned by their body.

Salem is a happy little lap cat, when it suits her.  In fact for most cats it's 'when it suits them'.  She's still young, not quite 2, and gets a bit excitable sometimes, so if something startles her, she'll jump off the lap, claws out, and flee. 

Previous cats I've been owned by have varied from the curl up and never move, immovable object type lap cat to the seriously psycho kitty I got landed with once when a neighbour moved and left her with me.  (Her offspring were just as ratty, so I suspect with her it was a genetic personality issue, certainly nothing I ever did caused her to be that way, and nothing I ever did improved her disposition, or her kittens'.  They all acted like ferals despite tons of attempted lovin'.)

I think PPs have it right when they suggest adopting an older/adult cat rather than a kitten, and see which of them comes to you for snuggles.  Even snugglebugs may take some time to warm to a stranger, but you can see the ones that want to - they'll frequently come close, close enough that you need to stretch to reach them, so with plenty of space if they want to make a quick getaway in case they feel threatened. 
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Daffydilly on February 08, 2013, 12:51:55 AM
If you go through a foster/rescue, they will have definite ideas about cats personalities. I have to admit, when I read the title, my first response was, "dip yourself in catnip and let em have it".
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: veryfluffy on February 08, 2013, 03:35:24 AM
Another vote for getting an adult cat with a proven lap-sitting certification! Kittens are uniquely adorable creatures, but you never can tell what their dispositions will be like.

If you do opt for a kitten, only get one if you can actually sit and interact with the litter for a good hour or so. Once they have got used to you, don't take the biggest, bravest, most sociable one. See if any of them will stay put on your lap and relax and enjoys being snoogled rather than attacking your hand. If a kitten likes to be picked up and held, it is more likely to grow up into a snuggly cat.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: atirial on February 08, 2013, 04:00:06 AM
If you go through a foster/rescue, they will have definite ideas about cats personalities. I have to admit, when I read the title, my first response was, "dip yourself in catnip and let em have it".
Argh! Have you seen a cat with a catnip mouse? I'd rather remain uneaten.

Regarding the OP, you're better off getting an adult cat. Even if they are snuggly, there's no guarantee who in the house they will 'adopt', if not everyone, so it might work better if you take your son along to meet the cat and confirm they get along before you get it.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: merryns on February 08, 2013, 04:00:47 AM
I wouldn't rule out getting a kitten, as long as you choose carefully and don't expect to be able to shift its basic nature. I've adopted seven cats as kittens over my adult years. All had the same personalities the day we got them as when they grew up. You can choose a kitten with the personality you want. Spend some time making your choice, and the staff should be able to advise as well. The RSPCA (Australian national animal welfare charity) gives a basic personality description of all the kittens on their website.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: jaxsue on February 08, 2013, 06:48:49 AM
I have had several cats in my lifetime. I've learned from them that the snuggle factor is built in; they love to snuggle or they don't. That's why I choose them carefully. The kitten that squirms away from me is not a candidate. The one that falls asleep in my arms, purring, is a keeper.

So far, it's worked, because both my cats are lap cats. You sit down, and within a few minutes you have one snoozing in your lap.  :)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: MindsEye on February 08, 2013, 07:37:16 AM
I second everyone who recommended adopting an older cat, or letting the rescue workers know that you are looking for a snuggly lap cat so that they can match you up with cats who have that kind of personality.

If you are not averse to looking at purebreeds, there are breeds that are known for having particularly snuggly qualities... the Ragdoll for example.  You can try checking out rescue groups for those breeds.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Kiara on February 08, 2013, 08:34:35 AM
I'd look for a 6 month old or older.  Personalities tend to come out around then.  The rescue workers should also know who's a snuggler.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Hmmmmm on February 08, 2013, 08:48:58 AM
Thinking about this last night, my experience with cats has been the male cats have been more demanding of attention.  My female cats have all been personable, but were more likely to want attention for shorter periods of time.  Where the male cats, especially the one we have now, seem to view me more as a member off his pride who he expects will feed, entertain, and groom him continually. But he is not a traditional lap cat. Instead he wants to mbe held while you are standing or wants to sit on nthe back of your chair rom sofa with him butt resting on your shoulder. His sister will come sit in our lap or lay beside us in the evening only. The rest of the day she's too busy tomsitbstill for more than a little attention.

I agree with others about adopting a 6 month old or so.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: wolfie on February 08, 2013, 08:55:14 AM
I don't know what your timetable is for adopting a cat, but if you can wait a few months there is a super-adoption event in April in the NY area. Lots of groups will be bringing their pets so you will have the advantage of being able to talk to a few different agencies at the same time:

http://www.bestfriends.org/What-we-do/Events/Pet-Super-Adoptions/
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: AlephReish on February 08, 2013, 10:49:06 AM
I second (third? zillionth?) what others have said - it's a pretty in-born personality trait. As my two cats have gotten older, they've gotten more into laps, but it's not constant.

When you go to the shelter to pick out a cat, spend as much time as you can there. If it's a free-range place, sit down somewhere accessible and see who comes to you and what they want. The first cats to approach will be the bold, playful, curious ones. After a little while, you'll get the more cautious kitties, and at some point, you'll look down and realize someone has snuck into your lap and fallen asleep there. You may even get a line waiting for your lap. (That happens every time I go in and volunteer at my shelter. Seriously - a line for the lap and a line for the brushing.)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Ginger G on February 08, 2013, 12:19:34 PM
Yes, it's just odd how some are such lap lover and some are not....

I have two brothers, Charlie and Clyde.  I started fostering them when they were about 6 weeks old, and ended up keeping them.  Clyde has always been extremely friendly to everybody and loves to be petted and picked up and cuddled.  He gets highly jealous when another cat is being petted and will try to insert himself between you and the other cat in order to keep all of the attention for himself.  However, he never ever sits on our laps or sleeps in the bed with us unless you're in the guest bedroom.   For some weird reason, he loves it when people sleep in there.  He's also the only cat that I've ever had that never, ever kneads.  Charlie on the other hand is a very shy kitty but loves to cuddle on your lap and sleeps right next to me every night.

My black kitty, Bix, is a very affectionate lap kitty, but doesn't like to sleep in the bed with us at all.

My female Ginger is the oddest one of the group.  When I got her, she was about 5 or 6 months old, and wasn't affectionate at all, she didn't like being petted and never purred.  She was a stray and was "semi-feral" I guess.  After much work and patience on my part, she now loves being petted and will harass you until she gets enough head rubs.  She never sits on my lap on the sofa, but when I get in bed she wants to sit right on my chest with her butt in my face.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Twik on February 08, 2013, 01:40:52 PM
Purchase a bamboo-viscose housecoat.

Worked for my mom, she can't get the cat off her when she wears it.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Reader on February 08, 2013, 01:58:52 PM
I agree.  Snuggling is a character trait, not trainable.  But the easy way to find a cuddler is to visit local shelters, especially places that have cat rooms (cats allowed to free roam with no cages), the ones that are snugglers will have no problem crawling right up in your lap for pets and purring, with no intention of leaving.   :)  I wish I could take you to this wonderful no kill shelter in my town.  They allow volunteers to cuddle with all their kitties, old and young.  So I have ended up in the kitten room with 6 or more kitten/teenage range cats in my lap all trying to fit.  It's a hilarious sight.  ;D
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: EMuir on February 08, 2013, 02:20:18 PM
It is hard to tell at shelters, if you are choosing a cat you need to spend enough time with it to tire it out and then see what it does.  However, many shelter cats may be desperate for attention.  I fostered a cat who was an absolute snugglebug, but now that she's no longer desperate she's not much of a lap cat.

I used a technique from the Way of Cats blog to convince our one cat to spend more time with us.  Find your cat wherever it is and greet it, pet it a few times, talk to it, DO NOT PICK IT UP, and then leave.  Make a point of finding your cat and showing it you like spending time with it.  It may start seeking you out too.  Then it's just a matter of making an appealing lap (treats?  Warm blanket?) and hoping. :)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Jocelyn on February 09, 2013, 12:40:09 PM
It's possible for a cat to have learned that snuggling isn't safe, and to unlearn that lesson. Gentry was a greeter- he would come running out to me, stroke up against my ankles, but when I brought him indoors and had him neutered so he could stay, it triggered anxiety from whatever had happened that made such a friendly, well-socialized cat into a stray. Took a long time before he would approach me (at least partially because he was low cat on the totem pole) and any time I put an arm around him, he'd scoot. Being held in place was scary for him. Then he went through a stage where he wanted to sleep next to me, if I had my arm lying out at a right angle to my body. Now, he likes to snuggle against the small of my back, or sleep against my shoulder, and he snuggles with the other kitties. He's still not thrilled about being held, but it's more of a grumpy acceptance rather than a panicked need to run. I've had other rescue kitties who became much more snuggly as they learned to trust.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Shoo on February 09, 2013, 12:47:00 PM
We adopted 2 feral kittens a couple of months ago, and while they're both sweet and loving, one is an extreme snuggler and the other is only a moderate snuggler.

Be careful what you wish for!  My extreme snuggler drives me bonkers sometimes.  He is so demanding of attention, that I have to make sure he's locked out of my bedroom at night.  The other one is perfect.  She wants to lay NEAR me, even touching up against me, but not ON me, like her brother.  He'd lay across my face if I let him.

Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: CrochetFanatic on February 09, 2013, 12:58:11 PM
Nope.  Cats do what they feel like doing.  You can train a cat to do tricks (sit up, give a kiss, shake paws; they're very smart) if there's something in it for them, but it still pretty much depends on whether or not they want to.

On the other hand, if a cat is a cuddler or an attention hog, good luck reading a book or a newspaper without having to do it over kitty's back.  ;D

We've got three; one who won't take no for an answer when it comes to cuddling, one who can take it or leave it, and one who will do it on her terms and give you a good hiss if you try to force her.  And we wouldn't trade them for anything.  8)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Bijou on February 09, 2013, 02:28:17 PM
I don't know if you can.  I think you have to approach the cat carefully so as not to infringe on it's wishes.  I've had cats that loved to lap sit and cuddle and cats who were not particularly fond of being handled and petted.  I think you have to let them lead the way and not force it on them.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: MamaMootz on February 09, 2013, 02:39:15 PM
I POD what everyone else said. Either they are snugglers or they aren't.

I have two cats. Both are shelter kitties. We adopted Princess as a kitten and she doesn't want any part of anyone except my husband. But she still won't snuggle up on his lap.
Blackjack, on the other hand, is our "dog cat". Even though when we adopted him from the shelter he was already an adult male cat, and he was abused by humans and is missing his top teeth because of those monsters, he will come up to anyone - even total strangers, and jump right on their lap and start purring.

It's definitely a personality trait, but I also like to think it might be breed specific as well. I had a Russian Blue that I adopted from a shelter that was the most affectionate cat to me, ever. He would sleep on my head, on my stomach, on my lap. But only with me. Anyone who came near me got hissed at, as did anyone that came near him. But that was probably his personality, too  ;D

Good on you for adopting an adult shelter animal - most people want the kittens. Adults have a lot of advantages: they are already litter trained, and they don't get into as much mischief. I agree with the poster who suggested that you spend a lot of time in the shelter with the kitties, if you can.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Bijou on February 09, 2013, 10:52:35 PM
Something I have noticed with shelter animals is that the staff seems to know something about their personalities and whether they are affectionate, like to be left alone and stuff like that. 
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: Starr on February 09, 2013, 11:10:44 PM
In my experience, snuggling is luck of the draw.  My older cat came to me as an adult stray, and he refused to cuddle for YEARS, but recently has become quite the laid back snuggle bug.  He's lying next to me as I type.

Cat number two was just past kittenhood when we adopted him (found him abandoned in a parking lot) and he loved to snuggle when he first came home.  Actually, he loved for me to hold him like a baby, rock him in our recliner, and sing the "Soft Kitty" song from Big Bang Theory  ;D.  Now, he's extremely active and won't stand cuddling for more than a minute or so.

In other words, I don't think cats can be trained to receive affection/cuddles.
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: furrcats on February 09, 2013, 11:24:30 PM
I got my cat at 3 mouths old the day I got him he got in my lap and never got off.  ;)
Title: Re: can you train a cat to be a snuggle bug?
Post by: jaxsue on February 10, 2013, 10:10:26 AM
I'd look for a 6 month old or older.  Personalities tend to come out around then.  The rescue workers should also know who's a snuggler.

I agree. 6 months old is a good time to see a cat's personality.