Why Does My Cat Go On My Keyboard?

Cats Love Warmth

One of the main reasons cats love keyboards is because of the warmth that electronics like laptops and keyboards give off. Cats are naturally drawn to warm places to rest and sleep because their bodies thrive in warmer temperatures. As mammals, a cat’s normal body temperature ranges from 100°F to 102°F, which is warmer than the average room temperature inside a home. Cats prefer lounging in warm spots because it helps them conserve energy and it feels soothing on their bodies. The heat generated from the electronics in a laptop or computer keyboard creates an inviting warm surface that your cat just can’t resist.

Cats like to sleep between 12 to 16 hours per day, and a warm laptop or keyboard provides the perfect cozy spot for your cat to curl up on. The warmth from the electrical components and battery inside laptops and keyboards creates just enough heat to keep your cat happy and comfortable without overheating. Your cat may even start kneading or become extra sleepy when lounging on your laptop or keyboard due to the soothing warmth. By lying on your keyboard, your cat can maximize its body surface area in contact with the warmth and leverage the heat during naps.

Cats Crave Attention

One of the main reasons cats go on keyboards is because they crave attention from their owners. Cats are very social animals and desire interaction and affection. When a cat jumps on your keyboard while you’re trying to work, it forces you to stop what you’re doing and pay attention to them.

Cats have learned that sitting on the keyboard will get them noticed. As soon as they walk across the keys, their owner will likely pick them up and move them, pet them, or talk to them. This gives the cat the attention and interaction they want.

Cats will often meow, rub against their owners, or gently paw at them to get attention. But the keyboard provides an even better opportunity. By physically blocking the keyboard, the cat guarantees they will receive a response. So keyboard-sitting becomes a tactics cats learn to ensure they receive the affection and care they desire from their human companions.

Keyboards Are Cozy

Cats appreciate the confined, snug space that keyboards provide. Small, enclosed areas appeal to cats due to their natural instinct to seek out safe spaces to sleep and rest. In the wild, a cat’s ancestors would have slept in rock crevices, tree hollows, and other tight spaces to feel secure and conserve body heat. According to the article “Why Do Cats Love Small Spaces?” on Chewy.com, the most convincing theory for why domestic cats seek out small spaces is that as prey animals, they are often hunted by predators like birds of prey, so confining spaces help them feel hidden and protected (Chewy). Keyboards mimic the enclosed feeling of a cozy den or cave that cats crave when sleeping or resting.

High Vantage Point

Cats love to perch up high where they can survey their territory. This stems from their natural territorial behaviors and instincts. According to Aggression Between Family Cats and Feline Social Behavior, cats are highly territorial creatures that engage in behaviors like chasing, ambushing, hissing, and swatting to defend their territory against intruders. Sitting high up on a keyboard allows your cat to look out over their domain and watch for any potential threats. The keyboard gives them an elevated spot to observe everything going on in their environment. From this high vantage point, your cat can better survey their territory and feel more in control.

Your Scent is on the Keyboard

Cats have an incredibly powerful sense of smell that draws them to keyboards. Cats have up to 200 million odor receptors compared to only around 5 million for humans (How Far Can Cats Smell?). This allows them to detect scents up to 14 times better than humans can (Cat Senses: This Is How Cats Experience the World). When you use your keyboard, you leave behind microscopic traces of your scent from your hands. While these scent traces are imperceptible to us, they stand out clearly to cats.

Cats are highly attached to their owners and love your familiar scent. By laying on your keyboard, they surround themselves with your comforting, familiar smell. The keyboard collects your odors over time as you use it, making it an even more desirable scent-soaked spot for cats. So when your cat curls up on your keyboard, it may just be their way of feeling close to you even when you’re busy working.

Keyboards Vibrate and Click

Many cats are attracted to the sounds and motions of typing on a keyboard. A cat’s sensitive ears can detect the subtle clicks and vibrations from keystrokes, which appeal to their keen auditory senses. With their ability to hear frequencies up to 64 kHz, cats can pick up on high-pitched noises that humans barely notice [1]. The rhythmic tapping of typing likely sounds interesting to cats, prompting them to investigate the source.

In addition to the sounds, cats are sensitive to the vibrations produced by typing thanks to receptors in their paws [2]. The light tremors from the keyboard provide appealing tactile stimulation for cats when they walk across the keys. Between the auditory and tactile sensations, keyboards offer cats a playground of sounds and vibrations to explore and enjoy.

Cats Love Routine

Cats are creatures of habit and often develop daily routines they follow. Sitting on a keyboard every day when their owner sits down to use the computer can become part of this routine. According to 101 Amazing Cat Facts, cats resist change and like repeating behaviors that comfort them.

Once a cat has made sitting on the keyboard part of their daily schedule, they will be reluctant to stop. The keyboard likely provides warmth and a nice perch for the cat to keep an eye on their surroundings. If the owner tries to shoo the cat off the keyboard, the cat may persist in jumping up again. To break the habit, the owner will need to provide an alternative comfortable spot near the computer for the cat.

Understanding that sitting on the keyboard has become a pleasurable and comforting routine for the cat can help owners address the behavior positively. Making a slow transition away from the keyboard, rather than abruptly blocking access, will increase the chances of successfully altering the cat’s habits.

Cats Mark Territory

Cats have scent glands on their paws, cheeks, tail, and face that they use to mark objects as their territory. When a cat sits or rubs on an object like a keyboard, they are depositing their scent to claim ownership. This territorial marking behavior is instinctual and stems from a cat’s ancestry as solitary hunters.

According to Hartz, experts believe cats mark their territory to minimize contact with other cats and enhance their survival odds. Indoor cats still exhibit this marking behavior even without other cats around.

Keyboards in particular attract cats because they provide a warm and cozy place to sit. The keyboard also vibrates and makes noises when typed on, which cats find intriguing. By sitting on the keyboard, your cat is essentially marking it as “theirs” with their scent glands.

To discourage this behavior, provide other soft, warm places for your cat to sit, and try using pheromone sprays like Feliway to reduce territorial urges. Ultimately though, marking territory is an innate feline behavior that may be impossible to eliminate entirely.

Cats Love Playing

Cats often view keyboards as an inviting place to play and pounce due to their playful personalities. According to 101 Amazing Cat Facts: Fun Trivia About Your Feline Friend, felines love to play and be active, with spontaneous bouts of energy known as “zoomies.” The keys and spaces between keys resemble cat toys or prey that cats love to pounce on.

Despite their reputation for being aloof or lazy, cats are actually quite playful, according to Are cats playful? Six insights into a cat’s play behavior. A keyboard offers a fun playground for cats to expend their natural energy. The sounds and movements generated when typing or clicking keys further stimulates cats’ predatory instincts. Overall, a cat’s playful nature makes the keyboard an enticing interactive toy.

Distracting You is Fun

Cats love to play, and one of their favorite playthings is anything you’re trying to focus on. Cats enjoy batting at keys and blocking screens not only because of the noises and movements that result, but also for the attention it gets them from their owners. When a cat paws at a keyboard or sits right in front of your monitor, they know it will get your attention as you try to nudge them away or distract them with another toy. This is an example of play behavior being used to seek attention.

Cats often see human activities like typing or reading as play invitations. From a cat’s perspective, if you’re moving your fingers across keys or flipping pages back and forth, you must be inviting them to play with you! So they happily accept the “invitation” by walking across the keyboard or pouncing on the pages. It’s their way of engaging you in play and getting your attention focused back on them.

The best response is usually to get your cat set up with an engaging solo play activity whenever you need to focus, like chasing toy mice or playing with spring wands. This allows them an outlet for play that doesn’t involve distracting you. You can also set aside regular interactive play sessions to satisfy their craving for attention. Just be patient – getting in the way is your cat’s way of saying “notice me!”

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