Why Does My Cat Sit On Your Shoulder? 9 Reasons

My cat Iggy Noodle starts pawing at my legs at 11 a.m., after I’ve been at my computer for a couple of hours. I attempt to ignore him, but he is relentless. He is desperate to be taken up. And as soon as I give in and pull him off the ground, he climbs up onto my shoulders and stays there until I weary of carrying his 18 pounds.

Iggy can’t get enough of sitting on my shoulder, unlike some cats that refuse to be carried up or held. Many of my friends also have shoulder kitties. I started to wonder if there’s a reason cats like to perch on shoulders, or if it’s just a personality trait of certain cats.

Why do cats choose to perch on your shoulders? My guess is that they prefer to be high up and near to individuals they trust, so shoulder-sitting allows them to have the best of both worlds. I’m not a cat scientist—though it would be a nice professional title to have!—so I looked to the internet for answers. Here are some professional opinions on cats and shoulders.

Why Do Cats Sit On Your Shoulder?

Why Does My Cat Sit On Your Shoulder

My cat Iggy Noodle starts pawing at my legs at 11 a.m., after I’ve been at my computer for a couple of hours. I attempt to ignore him, but he is relentless. He is desperate to be taken up. And as soon as I give in and pull him off the ground, he climbs up onto my shoulders and remains there until I weary of carrying his 18 pounds.

Iggy can’t get enough of sitting on my shoulder, unlike some cats that refuse to be carried up or handled. Many of my friends also have shoulder kitties. I started to wonder whether there’s a reason cats like to perch on shoulders, or if it’s just a personality trait of certain cats.

Why do cats choose to perch on your shoulders? My assumption is that they prefer to be high up and near to individuals they trust, so shoulder-sitting allows them to have the best of both worlds. I’m not a cat scientist—though that would be a nice professional title to have!—so I looked to the internet for answers. Here are some professional opinions on cats and shoulders.

Cats feel safer up high

Our feline buddies enjoy being up high, which may seem counterintuitive to humans with height fears. “Cats are both predator and prey,” writes veterinarian Dr. Wailani Sung for VetStreet.

Dr. Sung says that cats evolved to climb trees and reach up high in order to avoid predators before they were tamed. Furthermore, being higher above the ground allowed cats to locate prey more easily.

Your shoulder, of course, isn’t as high or as stable as a tree’s. It’s also time to call pest control if your cat is stalking prey in your living room. However, cats’ innate preference for high locations may explain why some cats enjoy riding on people’s shoulders.

Even cats need personal space

Why Does My Cat Sit On Your Shoulder

If you’ve ever had more than one cat, you know how territorial cats can be. Being up high, according to Mikel Delgado, Rover’s resident cat expert, “helps cats share the area.” In other words, if cats aren’t receiving enough personal space on the ground, they may seek higher terrain. Cat perches and cat trees are quite popular because of this.

Depending on your height, your shoulder may be the tallest point in the room. It may be an appealing perch for a cat in need of some privacy.

They long to be close to you

Although your shoulder height provides safety, it’s possible that’s not the only reason your cat gets up there. Shoulder-riding may be an attention-seeking activity, according to cat behavior analyst Ingrid Johnson, who spoke with Mother News Network.

If you praise and pat your cat for sitting on your shoulder, for example, she will associate it with happiness and will continue to do so to please you. Isn’t that lovely?

But, especially if your cat is older or less athletic, don’t take it personally if they don’t perch on your shoulders. Cats that can sustain a position on your shoulder are often young and nimble, according to Johnson. On a shifting perch, elderly cats have a tougher time keeping their equilibrium.

Iggy, my own cat, is 15 years old and has never been sporty in his life. He is, however, large and hefty, which I believe aids his center of gravity. On the other hand, he may just be a quirky cat—who isn’t?

Sometimes, cats just do strange things

Cat owners are well aware that their cats may be strange. That is one of the reasons why we adore them. One of those typical cat eccentricities, like pushing objects off ledges or fitting into too-small boxes, is sitting on your shoulder.

Why cats sit on your shoulders may not have a single scientific answer. Shoulder-sitting, on the other hand, makes sense given their fondness for heights and desire to impress their humans.

They want a higher viewpoint

Why Does My Cat Sit On Your Shoulder

Unlike earthbound canines, felines developed as skilled climbers that enjoy heights. They want to observe everything from above because it gives them a sense of security. A vantage position from which they can view everything is referred to as a higher location. For example, they can quickly observe their predators and plan their next line of action, or they can successfully scan preys.

Aside from your shoulder, it’s typical to observe them perching on the highest point of their cat trees and perches, as well as dressers, cupboards, and refrigerators.

As a result, if you are the tallest point in the home or nearby, these dogs can go on your shoulder. They don’t have the same fear of heights as the rest of us.

Even though it keeps them secure, don’t try to confine them since it will make them want to flee or squirm away. If left alone, they will come and go as they choose.

They want some privacy

Another reason your cat could like perching on your shoulder is to gain some privacy if they don’t have enough privacy on the ground or if you have other cats, dogs, or children.

If you are the tallest person in the room, your shoulder is an enticing and appropriate location for them to have some personal space where they will not be disturbed. They’re only attempting to be territorial and have their own personal area.

Attention seeking

Shoulder-sitting seeking might be a good approach to catch your attention since it allows them to get closer to you. If you like it and reward them for it, they’ll do it again, expecting for more praises, gifts, and awards.

However, few cats seek attention in this manner. Instead, they’ll paw, meow, run, or stroll around your legs, learn things off the table, surf the counter, follow you around, and sit on your laptop, among other things.

They are unlikely to desire your stroking, snuggle, or a slumber while attempting to get your attention.

Is it a sign of affection?

According to some experts, it is a show of devotion from cats, along with other behaviors such as grooming, head bunting, following you, kneading, and giving you gifts. It’s likely that your cats adore you if they like perching or cuddling up on your shoulder and don’t want care.

Are they just being weird?

Cats and other household pets may exhibit strange actions for which humans have no explanation. Have you ever noticed your cat snatching items off a table, ledge, or shelf? Some will even cram themselves into a cramped box. It’s probable that one of their strange behaviors is sitting on your shoulder.

Can you train a cat to sit on your shoulder?

Why Does My Cat Sit On Your Shoulder

Not all cats prefer to perch on people’s shoulders. The vast majority do not. Some people do it naturally and begin while they are still kittens. As a result, don’t discourage your kitten or cat from sitting on your shoulder.

Kittens are smart, and you can teach them to do things like give high-fives, skateboard, use litter trays, and walk on a leash, among other things.

As a result, you may teach them to sit on your shoulder. However, if you are patient, start when they are kittens, and don’t force them, it will assist. They will also learn to leap to it if you taught them to jump from your shoulder.

It’s important to remember that while you educate your feline companion, anticipate it to spring at you suddenly; if you are shocked, it will have a poor training experience.

A father trains his cat to perch on his shoulder in the video below. While patience is required, it is possible.

Conclusion

Don’t be concerned if your cat does not sit on your shoulders. They may eventually learn. And, if your cat is anything like mine, you might not want them up there in the first place.

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